Letter to Ranking Members DeFazio, Lowey, and Price Regarding DOT Officials’ Communications Concerning the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act
On August 30, 2017, we responded to a letter from Ranking Member Peter A. DeFazio of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; Ranking Member Nita M. Lowey of the House Committee on Appropriations; and Ranking Member David E. Price of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. In their letter, the Ranking Members requested that we determine whether U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) officials have engaged in conduct that violates Federal law, including the Anti-Lobbying Act, when communicating to Members of Congress and non-Federal stakeholders regarding the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act (AIRR Act).
To respond to the Ranking Members’ request, we reviewed correspondence from DOT officials, applicable laws and guidance, and DOT’s website and social media accounts for its Smarter Skies initiative, which DOT created to promote the Administration’s positions on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) restructuring. Our review did not identify any conduct or correspondence by DOT officials that violates the Anti-Lobbying Act. Department officials told us they consulted with the Office of General Counsel prior to and during the course of their correspondence with stakeholders regarding the AIRR Act and FAA restructuring. In addition, we concluded that the materials provided in the Ranking Members’ request did not violate the Department’s appropriations restriction on lobbying. Our review did identify one potential concern regarding a retweet and like on the Smarter Skies Twitter feed, which we are referring to the Government Accountability Office to determine whether they comply with the restriction on DOT’s current appropriations.