David Mayer, Chief Operating Officer NTSB


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David Mayer, Chief Operating Officer NTSB

  1. 1. Openness and Transparency in Accident Investigation: The U.S. Experience<br />David L. Mayer25 March 2011<br />
  2. 2. About the U.S. NTSB<br />Independent organization<br />Lead agency for transportation accident investigation<br />Allow others to participate<br />Make information public<br />Media briefings, advisories<br />Docket<br />Public hearings and Board meeting<br />Final report <br />
  3. 3. Evolution<br />
  4. 4. Poor coordination <br />1996 TWA flight 800, New York<br />1999 Bellingham, Washington<br />
  5. 5. NTSB Priority<br />An NTSB investigation has priority over any investigation by another department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States Government<br />The NTSB shall provide for appropriate participation by other departments, agencies, or instrumentalities in the investigation<br />
  6. 6. In Practice<br />If circumstances indicate that the accident may have been caused by an intentional criminal act, the NTSB relinquishes investigative priority<br />Therefore, the NTSB leads investigations, even if there is evidence of an crime that was unintentional<br />
  7. 7. Benefits<br /><ul><li>Both the NTSB and law enforcement obtain evidence efficiently and without difficulty
  8. 8. When the NTSB shares factual information from an interview, it can avoid several interviews of the same person</li></li></ul><li>Efficiency<br />Proper coordination helps to ensure that efforts of the various agencies, including NTSB and law enforcement officials, are less likely to cause unnecessary interference with their respective investigations and goals<br />
  9. 9. The Right Balance<br />An accident raises a number of different public interests such as the prevention of future accidents and the proper administration of justice. Those interests go beyond the individual interests of the parties involved and beyond the specific event. The right balance among all interests is necessary to guarantee the overall public interest.<br />
  10. 10. Different Approaches<br />Attachment E suggests that any person seeking disclosure of safety information should justify its release<br />In the U.S., there is a presumption of transparency and requirement to justify non-release<br />
  11. 11. Transparency<br />U.S. public and Congress expect transparency<br />U.S. law requires transparency<br />U.S. law specifically requires the NTSB to make investigative information available to the public<br />U.S. law prohibits the NTSB from releasing CVR recording<br />
  12. 12. Why transparency?<br />Credibility of the NTSB<br />Confidence in the investigation<br />Intense pressure for answers<br />Safety improvements may prevent a similar accident<br />Public understanding helps motivate safety improvements<br />
  13. 13. Balanced Transparency<br />Certain protections are needed (for example, CVR recordings, and voluntary safety data)<br />Carefully design narrow legal protections for specific types of data<br />Routine, required operational records may not need the same protection<br />
  14. 14. Sharing Data with Judiciary<br />Professionally collected and examined evidence<br />Provides information quickly<br />Overprotection could create competition, rather than cooperation<br />Might push safety investigation to secondary position, and delay<br />
  15. 15. The U.S. Experience<br />Investigation records: The public gets full access<br />Exceptions for CVR, voice/image recordings, trade secrets<br />Voluntary and self-disclosed data: Fully protected<br />Ensures availability for accident prevention safety related purposes<br />Access to investigative data by other departments<br />Allows them to accomplish their responsibilities efficiently<br />Coordination with judiciary<br />Recognizes judicial primacy to investigate intentional criminal acts<br />
  16. 16. The Result<br />A balanced approach: <br />allows significant sharing of information<br />permits safety and judicial investigations to cooperate and work efficiently<br />has ensured the continued availability of information<br />