GAO Questions the FAA Office of Aviation Safety’s Workforce Oversight

Report says the agency doesn’t regularly assess the competencies of its workforce.

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The GAO says the FAA’s assessment of its Office of Aviation Safety employees should change.Avel Chuklanov/Unsplash

The US Government Accountability Office recently published a report about the methodology used by the FAA’s Office of Aviation Safety to assess the competency of its engineer and inspector force. The GAO says there’s a need to respond to workforce changes brought on by retiring personnel, as well as the host of new technologies needed to ensure all the agency’s employees are able to maintain a safe and efficient national airspace system (NAS).

The report said while the Office of Aviation Safety does identify the critical competencies the inspector and engineering force require when they’re hired, it doesn’t conduct any recurring assessments of these employees “to efficiently target workforce strategies such as hiring and training.” Additionally, “without assessing the extent to which inspectors and engineers possess critical competencies, the Office of Aviation may not be able to effectively leverage the existing skills, knowledge, and abilities of inspectors and engineers to conduct the office’s safety oversight mission.” To date the FAA has taken only one-time steps to try to rectify these problems—and that’s simply not often enough to determine if the critical competencies of these employees are being addressed in recurrent training, nor does it identify any other gaps in training.

The GAO recommends the Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety assess organization-wide gaps in identified critical competencies for the Office of Aviation Safety’s inspector and engineer workforces on a recurring basis and also reviews training curricula for the Office of Aviation Safety’s inspector and engineer workforces on a recurring basis to ensure that training courses as a whole align with critical competencies needed to address agency mission and goals.

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