Cary Russell, director of Defense Capabilities and Management Issues at GAO, discusses issues with aviation mishap reporting at the Department of Defense, and what changes can be made to improve it.
The Department of Defense has seen several aviation mishaps over the last year, but preventing those mishaps in the future could be challenging. A new Government Accountability Office report says that the way the Department of Defense gathers and stores mishap data needs improvement. Cary Russell, director of Defense Capabilities and Management Issues at GAO, says that while each of the services gather data on aviation mishaps, it’s being collected inconsistently. “All the services collect an aviation mishap type. It might be a bird strike or midair collision. What some of the services will do is they’ll pick one of those from a pre-selected group of 20 and report that to DoD,” Russell told Government Matters. “The Army has a list of over 100 and they’ll pick three [to report.] They won’t necessarily be all the same. So, when DoD tries to do an analysis across the board, the data just isn’t there to support it.” Russell also says that the “human factor” is being ignored in accident reporting due to some interagency confusion. “Over the years, there’s been a couple of organizations that have developed within DoD to do this analysis and some agreements have been made with the services about what to provide. These are not that clear and there’s been a lack of a consensus really over who should be reporting what and who should have access to that,” said Russell. “Human factors data is some of the more sensitive data that comes out of the accident investigations. Right now, there’s a disconnect on who should be doing the analysis and where it should be going.”