FAA’s Use Of RTCA—OIG Recommendations -
FAA’s Use of RTCA, Inc. as an Advisory Committee
Office of Inspector General—Audit Report, May 15, 2000
Department of Transportation

Background: (NJCAAN Commentary)
The FAA continues to favor the aviation industry and excludes public involvement. The FAA has provided detailed modeling to the aviation industry and has relied on input from the industry. The aviation industry also has participated in the development of the redesign through the RTCA Free Flight Select Committee (FFSC).

RTCA is a Federal Advisory Committee and has acted as an industry advisory panel in conjunction with the FAA on the redesign project. The FFSC was chaired by Roger Wall of Federal Express, and consisted of aviation industry and FAA members. It was closed to the public. Industry members included Glen Morse of Continental Airlines and Phil Mullis of Southwest Airlines. The AWG of the FFSC was co-chaired by Bob Lamond of NBAA and Charlie Hall of American Airlines; Sabra Kaulia of the FAA was the Federally Designated Official. The FFSC was retired in June 2004 when a new committee, the RTCA Air Traffic Management Advisory Committee (ATMAC), was formed. Russ Chew, chief operating officer of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization (formerly from American Airlines), is the Federally Designated Official of ATMAC.

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In response to the request in the Conference Report for the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2000, the Office of Inspector General reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) use of RTCA, Inc. (RTCA) as an Advisory Committee. (Memorandum)

The objectives of our review were to examine FAA’s relationship with RTCA, review the role and organization of RTCA, and compare FAA’s relationship with RTCA to that of other Federal advisory committees. (Pp. i)

RTCA is chartered by FAA and a Federal advisory committee, and it is therefore subject to the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA)… …Congress enacted FACA in 1972 to bring about more review, oversight, and accountability for advisory committees. (P.p. i)

Among other things, FACA promotes openness, accountability, and balance of viewpoints so that advisory committee recommendations will be the result of objective and independent judgment. (P.p. ii)

FAA Representatives Should Not Serve in an Official, Voting Capacity on RTCA Boards, Committees, and Working Groups. (P.p. iv)

FAA Should Ensure RTCA Takes Steps to Provide Public Access to Closed Meeting Deliberations (P.p. v)

FAA Should Ensure RTCA Adopts Procedures to Ensure Balanced Membership, Including Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and Representational Interests. (P.p. vii)

FAA and the Management Advisory Council Should Assess the Role RTCA Will
Play in Future Air Traffic Modernization Initiatives (P.p. viii)

Agency Comments:
FAA concurs with our recommendations and will proceed to implement them.
(P.p. ix)

Public Disclosure:
Of concern is the closure to the public of the Free Flight Select Committee and its four working groups, the restrictive committee member selection process wherein an individual must be appointed or invited to join by the RTCA Policy Board, and the lack of minutes available to the public for these meetings. Because of the closed nature of these RTCA proceedings, it is unclear to those outside the process how decisions are made and who makes them. (P.p. v)

A subcommittee, such as the Free Flight Select Committee, can be created and even closed, but it cannot serve as a mere proxy for the full committee. To meet the spirit of the FACA, open meetings should not simply be a “rubber stamp” of the subcommittee’s recommendations, and the public should not be excluded from the committee deliberative process. (P.p. v-vi)

FACA requires that recommendations flow up through the committee deliberations process, not directly to the agency outside of the public eye. (P.p. vi)

In contrast, other advisory organizations we reviewed established controls to meet the openness criteria of FACA. (P.p. vi)

The National Academy of Sciences (Academy), among other things, posts ongoing project descriptions and minutes of closed meetings on the Academy’s web site. (P.p. vi)

For example, FAA and RTCA should consider steps the Academy has taken to increase public access to current project activity. The Academy posts the following project information on its web site. (Pp. 10)

· Names and brief biographies of committee members,
· Notices of open meetings,
· Copies of written materials presented to the committee,
· Summary minutes of closed meetings,
· Descriptions of ongoing projects, and
· Copies of final committee reports.

FAA’s Use of RTCA, Inc. as an Advisory Committee
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