IT drives DOT goals

Results of the Transportation Department's 1999 performance plan highlight

the role information technology plays in meeting safety and efficiency goals.

The plan marks the first submission of what are to be annual reports under

the Government Performance and Results Act.

One success story is a reduction in highway fatalities and injuries last

year. DOT is employing IT to improve truck safety, with the goal of a 50

percent reduction in motor carrier-related fatalities by 2009, the agency

said in a statement Monday.

The nation's runways are another matter. DOT reported that the U.S. aviation

safety record continues to be the best in the world, but the Federal Aviation

Administration failed to meet its 1999 goals for reducing aviation runway

collisions and operational errors. FAA Administrator Jane Garvey recently

announced an action plan to reduce runway incursions, which have increased

in the past 10 years. The plan includes long-awaited software — the Airport

Movement Area Safety System — to help detect and prevent runway collisions.

The action plan has 186 items, of which 75 percent are complete, Garvey

said. Many are technology-related, she said.

The AMASS software creates visual and auditory warnings when aircraft come

within a certain distance of one another, and the tower controllers need

to detect those warnings. Delivery of the system originally was planned

for 1994. But after resolving human interface issues, the FAA expects the

first installation to be operational in San Francisco in September and full

capability at all airports in 2002, Garvey said.

Preventing runway incursions has remained on the National Transportation

Safety Board's "most wanted list" for the past 10 years, said Kenneth Mead,

DOT's inspector general, during a hearing before the House Appropriations

Committee's Transportation Subcommittee March 22.

"FAA must expedite the technical solution," Mead said.

Garvey said the FAA will use the Year 2000 conversion effort as a model

for attacking the runway safety problem and has created a director responsible

for the effort at the agency. The agency will host a national summit on

runway safety in June.

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