Thu, May 10, 2012
Watchdog Agency Says Greater Oversight Needed
A Special Counsel assigned to protect government employees who expose mismanagement or wrongdoing said the FAA has repeatedly dragged its feet in responding to whistleblower complaints about safety problems. Carolyn Lerner detailed seven cases for the White House and Congress in which "paint a picture of an agency with insufficient responsiveness given its critical public safety mission."
The Herald Net reported that while some of these cases are years old, Ms. Lerner said FAA employees, specifically air traffic controllers continue to point out safety problems after making their initial allegations because the agency did not take promised actions to correct the problem.
Lerner cited an investigation which confirmed most of the complaints made in 2011 by a controller formerly assigned to a busy ARTCC on Long Island, N.Y. These substantiated allegations include controllers sleeping in the control room at night, leaving shifts early, using personal electronic devices while on duty, using improper ATC procedures and engaging in work stoppages to gain overtime pay. While the FAA has taken action to correct those problems, Lerner said another controller has recently made nearly identical allegations about a different air traffic control facility which she didn't identify.
The special counsel’s office has received 178 whistleblower disclosures from FAA employees in the last five years, giving it one of the highest rates of filings per employee of any government agency. 89 of these related to aviation safety, and 44 of these cases were referred to the Department of Transportation for investigation. All but five were substantiated.
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