Under the Accountability of Tax Dollars Act of 2002, the NTSB is annually required to submit audited financial statements to the Congress and Office of Management and Budget. The Inspector General for the Department of Transportation is charged with the audit oversight authority to review the NTSB’s management, property management and business operations.
After reviewing the NTSB’s 2003 financial statements, the IG agreed with the auditor’s unqualified (“clean”) opinion. Since this was the first year that the NTSB was required to sumit audited financial statements, the IG congratulated the Board for this achievement. Unfortunately, the IG’s audit does not seem to address issues relating to staffing levels and processing times for accident investigations.
Due to budget constraints, the Board’s inability to increase investigator staff levels has resulted in an increase in the number of cases per investigator. The time to complete an investigation has steadily increased over recent years and, often, the probable cause findings have not contained the investigative thoroughness they once did. Although the Board received a “clean” bill of health on its financials, the Board can definitely improve the health and performance of its investigative operations.