The FAA has identified the competencies needed in its aviation inspection and engineering positions but does not regularly assess the level of those competencies in its workforce, the GAO has said in calling for such an assessment.
While individual managers assess their respective employees for skills such as data analytics, systems thinking, and risk-based decision-making, that does not produce an organization-wide view of competency gaps, which is one of the GAO’s strategic workforce planning principles, and leaves the FAA “limited in its ability to implement appropriate strategies for addressing organization-wide gaps in critical skills.”
It said that while the agency trains inspectors and engineers on skills to carry out their safety work it similarly “does not assess on a recurring basis whether the training curricula as a whole adequately provide employees with needed competencies.” Without such assessments, the FAA “does not have the ability to identify whether there are gaps within the training, such as on oversight activities related to new technologies, or whether critical competencies necessary for carrying out its safety mission are being sufficiently emphasized,” a report said.
It added that assessments of training and skills gaps are especially important given the pace of new technologies to be learned, such as unmanned aircraft systems, and that 50-60 percent of its roughly 4,800 inspectors and engineers will be eligible to retire within the next five years.
It said the agency agreed with its recommendations to regularly conduct such assessments.