House Passes Four-Year NTSB Reauthorization
H.R. 4714 would increase the agency's funding by 15 percent during the next four fiscal years, allowing it to increase its personnel and take on more investigations, U.S. Rep. James Oberstar said.
A bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote and now before the U.S. Senate transportation committee would reauthorize the National Transportation Safety Board for the next four years and steadily raise its funding. H.R. 4714 would authorize $107.6 million in fiscal year 2011, $115.3 million in FY2012, $122.2 million in FY2013, and $124.2 million in FY2014, representing a 15 percent increase in that time.
The increases will allow the NTSB to hire an additional 66 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, increasing its staffing to 477 FTEs. U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said 477 is the staffing level NTSB considers optimal to fulfill its mission. "In addition, H.R. 4714 should resolve, once and for all, any ambiguity in the NTSB's authority to issue subpoenas in all investigations," the chairman said. "In a few cases, NTSB investigations have been hindered or delayed when the recipients of subpoenas have not complied, arguing that the NTSB's authority to issue subpoenas only extends to the conduct of public hearings. H.R. 4714 makes it clear that the NTSB's subpoena authority extends equally to all investigations: those that require public hearings, as well as those that do not.
"The bill also clarifies that the NTSB is not required to determine a single cause or probable cause of a transportation accident, but may determine that there was more than one probable cause. The bill keeps pace with advances in accident investigation, which recognize that a particular accident is rarely attributable to a single cause or probable cause, and that most accidents happen as the result of cumulative factors." The bill was referred Sept. 29 to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman was in Montreal at the time as part of the U.S. delegation to the 37th Session of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). On Sept. 28, a cooperative memorandum was signed by DOT, the European Commission, ICAO, and the International Air Transport Association to create a Global Safety Information Exchange to reduce accident risks worldwide by making countries' safety oversight performance available.