In 2006, the FAA established the Voluntary
Disclosure Reporting Program (VDRP), which
allows air carriers to voluntarily report
adverse safety issues to FAA without fear of
enforcement actions. While this program provides
an important opportunity to identify and
mitigate safety issues that might not otherwise
come to the Agency’s attention, it also requires
close monitoring by the FAA to ensure the
program is not misused.
For example, in 2008, OIG reported that the FAA
allowed a major airline to repeatedly
self-disclose violations of mandatory safety
directives without ensuring the carrier had
developed and implemented solutions to prevent
recurrence of the reported problems. Carriers
are required to develop comprehensive solutions
to identified safety issues in order for the FAA
to accept the disclosure and absolve the carrier
of any penalty.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012
included a mandate that the Office of Inspector
General examine the FAA’s oversight of VDRP.
Accordingly, OIG’s audit objectives are to
determine whether FAA ensures that air carrier
disclosure reports meet FAA requirements prior
to acceptance into the Voluntary Disclosure
Reporting Program and evaluates the
effectiveness of air carrier corrective actions
prior to closing the reports. OIG also expressed
concern that FAA may rely too heavily on
self-disclosures to identify safety issues,
which may promote a pattern of leniency in the
acceptance and closure of these reports.
OIG’s audit will include visits to FAA
Headquarters and regional offices as well as
select Flight Standards Service field offices
that oversee commercial airlines. OIG will begin
this audit September 19, 2012.