I would like to thank everyone for coming today. Before we start, I wanted to send a kind word to my Ranking Member, Senator Jay Rockefeller. He is still at home recuperating from surgery earlier this year. We look forward to his healthy return.
Today, we will review the reauthorization of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The NTSB is an independent agency charged with determining the probable cause of transportation accidents and promoting transportation safety. The agency has played a key role throughout the years in improving the safety of the traveling public, across all modes.
Since the late 1960’s, the NTSB has investigated more than 124,000 aviation accidents, and at least 10,000 accidents in other transportation modes, including rail, pipeline, maritime, and highways. Through those investigations, the NTSB has issued almost 12,000 safety recommendations with more than 82 percent of those recommendations being adopted by the regulatory and transportation communities.
The current NTSB reauthorization runs out on October 1, 2006. Therefore, in coordination with Sen. Lott and the members of the Surface Transportation Subcommittee we will soon produce a Committee NTSB Reauthorization bill. I am hopeful we can move that bill through the process and complete our work by the October deadline. I look forward to working with our Co-Chairmen to do just that.
I believe this is a timely review of the NTSB. It is important the Committee is confident proper management practices are in place at the agency, and effective use of taxpayer dollars is ensured. The Committee has had questions regarding accident investigator staffing levels, usage of the NTSB Academy, and the timeliness and process of investigations. We appreciate Dr. Dillingham and GAO’s work in this area.
With that, I appreciate our witnesses for joining us this morning. We are starting a little early in order to accommodate a Joint Session of Congress and a couple of stacked votes. We would appreciate everyone keeping to a tight schedule since we only have less than an hour to do our work. Additionally, the record will be left open for opening statements and questions for our witnesses.
Again, I thank everyone for coming and I look forward to the testimony.
Thank you Senator Burns for holding this hearing today.
Mr. Rosenker, it’s nice to see you back here again. The Committee was pleased to support your reconfirmation to the NTSB last year, and we look forward to acting on your nomination to be its Chairman at the earliest possible markup date.
The National Transportation Safety Board serves a vital function in determining the cause of transportation accidents and promoting transportation safety. The Board’s primary goal is to determine why accidents occur in order to better ensure that they can be prevented in the future. It is impossible to determine how many lives have been saved due to NTSB’s efforts.
The Board’s authorization expires at the end of this Fiscal Year and the NTSB has submitted a three-year reauthorization request, which will be discussed here today. Co-Chairman Inouye and I want to ensure that all agencies under this Committee’s jurisdiction are reauthorized in a timely manner.
It is my hope that we will be able to introduce a reauthorization bill for the NTSB next month and get it approved by both our Committee and the full Senate in short order.