vehicle safety defect oversight

GAO: Better project management can improve vehicle safety defect oversight

To address the increasing complexity of overseeing vehicle safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) created the Corporate Information Factory, a new system to help it identify and investigate potential automotive safety risks and defects. CIF includes advanced data-mining and analytical tools, case management capabilities and access to multiple NHTSA datasets via a data warehouse.

And while CIF follows some recognized project management practices -- like developing plans for managing system requirements and risks -- the Government Accountability Office pointed out two areas where the program can improve.

The first area is in integration management. The Office of the CIO (which is responsible for the system’s infrastructure) and the Office of Defects Investigation (which handles the system’s customizations) have not integrated their project plans, which would benefit offices. With better integration, ODI could ensure CIF customizations meet staff needs and are incorporated into its daily work. For its part, the CIO would learn from the ODI’s customizations and take that knowledge to other offices that will be using the CIF.

The second area for improvement relates to the timelines for customizations. Although ODI officials told GAO that they view customization as an ongoing process, the auditing agency believes an overall schedule with set timelines would help ODI prioritize already identified and new customizations.

GAO recommended the NHTSA develop a project management plan for the CIF and the ODI develop an overall schedule for CIF applications. The Department of Transportation, NHTSA's parent agency, agreed with the recommendations.

The full report can be read here.  

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.


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