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Launched Aug 26 1996.

 
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Obstacles to Investigation Process Research

 

Introduction

The following exchanges are posted to illustrate difficulties that can be encountered when attempting to get data from governmental agencies for investigation research purposes.

The request under US Freedom of Information laws seeks data which will support methodological and quality assurance inquiries. The entire process started with the rejection of a paper presenting findings that conflicted with an official government agency report by a professional society. Further inquiry led to the question whether this was an isolated instance, or does it might occur more frequently, and of course, why did the differences in the finding occur? While reviewing the rports, the significance of the handling of the data acquired during the investigations was observed. Did these differences extend to other investigations? The best source of such data would be an agency like the National Transportation Safety Board's records of Petitions for Reconsideration of its findings, which are provided by its regulations. Thus the FOIA request, which was supposed to be answered in 30 working days.

Subsequently, two additional examples of such conflicting results were identified and acquired through private sources. In one case the differences resulted in entirely different directions for preventive action. Good examples to examine for quality assurance research purposes are solicited.

In view of the stakes involving corrective actions, the inquiry seems worth undertaking. Stay tuned. New examples will be posted when the become available.. Suggestions and examples invited.

L Benner.

Oakton, VA June 2, 2000


Copy of original FOIA request for information, July 16, 1999


LUDWIG BENNER, JR.

12101 Toreador Lane,
Oakton, VA 22124-2217

703 758 4800
luben@patriot.net

 

July 16, 1999

National Transportation Safety Board
Attn: Ms Melba Moye FOIA Officer
Washington D.C. 20504

Freedom of Information Request

Dear Ms. Moye,

This is a three part request for information about Petitions for Reconsideration submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board (Board) under its Regulations.

Request Part 1. Reference.: Accident Report NTSB-AAR-81-8 TWA Flight 841. Boeing 727-100, Saginaw, Michigan, April 4, 1979

I request a list of all Petitions for Reconsideration submitted to the Board about this case, said list to include the name of the Petitioning party and the person submitting the Petition, and the date of the petition or date the Board received it, whichever is most readily available. For each Petition, I request a copy of the Board’s response to the Petition, the Board’s Docket number under which the responses were adopted, and the date the response was adopted by the Board. I am aware that the Air Line Pilots Association submitted such a Petition in this case, and there may have been others.

Request Part 2. Please furnish a list of all Petitions for Reconsideration of Board facts, findings, conclusions or Probably Cause(s) in any Accident Reports, Accident Briefs or special studies adopted by the Board between Jan 1, 1994 and June 30, 1999, for any mode of transportation. Please include on this list the

  • Board report, brief or study identifier addressed by the Petition, date the report was adopted, and Board Docket number;
  • name and address of the person or party petitioning for reconsideration, and date of their petition;
  • the current status of each petition; and
  • where each listed Petition or completed Docket can be accessed for public viewing.

Part 3. Please provide a description of the Board’s procedures for processing Petitions for Reconsideration it receives.

Please send the information to me at the above address

Sincerely,

S/ L Benner, Jr.

 

Ludwig Benner, Jr.

 

 


 

NTSB acknowledgement of receipt of FOIA request, August 6, 1999.

 

 


 Follow up letter inquiring about status of request.

LUDWIG BENNER, JR.

12101 Toreador Lane,
Oakton, VA 22124-2217

703 758 4800
luben@patriot.net

December 20, 1999

 

 

Honorable Jim Hall, Chairman
National Transportation Safety Board
490 L'Enfant Plaza East, SW
Washington, DC 20594

 

Dear Chairman Hall,

On August 4, 1999, the NTSB acknowledged the receipt of my July 16, 1999 FOIA request for information about Petitions for Reconsideration of NTSB reports and findings. A copy of my request is attached for your information.

Over four months have passed - well beyond the response time mandated by the FOI statute - and I have not received any of the requested information. When my request was submitted, I assumed the NTSB would have good records of these Petitions, since they represent an important form of feedback of value to Board Members about the quality of the Board’s performance. Therefore, I thought this request would require little effort, and expected a timely response.

Can you tell me when I might expect to receive the information I asked for in any one or all of the three parts of my request, and why the NTSB has not lived up to its obligations in responding to my FOIA request within the prescribed time limits?

Sincerely,

S/ L Benner, Jr.

Ludwig Benner, Jr.

Enclosure: July 16, 1999 FOIA request

cc: Robert Frances II
John Hammerschmidt
John Goglia
George W. Black
Congressman Frank Wolf

LB/hc


Request for help from my district's representative in the US Congress.

 

LUDWIG BENNER, JR.

12101 Toreador Lane,
Oakton, VA 22124-2217

703 758 4800
luben@patriot.net

 

February 22, 2000

The Honorable Frank Wolf
U S House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

 

 

Dear Congressman Wolf,

I hate to bother you, but I am having difficulty getting a response to an FOIA request that I sent to the National Transportation Safety Board. Since the head of the agency is not responding to my followup, I don’t know where else to turn. Attached are a copy of my original letter and my followup letter to the Chairman.

Given the subject matter of the request, I thought it could be a relatively simple response. Is there anything you can do to help me get the information I requested from this agency?

Thank you.

 s/ L Benner, Jr.

 

Ludwig Benner, Jr.
LB/hc

 


Congressman Wolf's reply.

 

 


Attachment to Congressman Wolf's reply.

 


Followup letter to representative in Congress.

 

LUDWIG BENNER, JR.

12101 Toreador Lane,
Oakton, VA 22124-2217

703 758 4800
luben@patriot.net

 

June 2, 2000

 


The Honorable Frank Wolf
U S House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Congressman Wolf,

Please refer the your kind letter of March 8, 2000 concerning a July 29, 1999 Freedom of Information request to the National Transportation Safety Board about Peititions for Reconsideration of the Board's decisions, and Chairman Hall's March 7 2000 response to you.

To date, I have still had no subsequent response to either my request or a December 1999 followup letter I sent to the Charman and other Board members, despite Charman Hall's letter to you saying I "should receive a Board response shortly." By the way, his letter to you was somewhat misleading, in that while I am an ex-employee of the Board, I left the Board in 1982 and have no idea how the Board handles FOIA requests seventeen years later.

Given the subject matter of the request, I thought it could be answered with a relatively simple response by simply sending me copies of logs and policy or procedures ducments. Perhaps the nine month delay reflects not a FOIA processing problem, but a different problem at this agency. Two petitions and another report I have located from private sources and posted on my investigation process research site on the internet indicate serious conflicts between Board and others' investigation findings. Who in the Congress has oversight jurisdication for this Agency, and do you think that Committee might like to be made aware of what has been happeneing.?

Thank you for your assistance.

 

s/ L. Benner, Jr.

 

Ludwig Benner, Jr.

cc: Chariman Jim Hall- NTSB

LB/hc