Appointments and Selections get no Publicity
Vacancies are too HIGH
FAA Employee Telephone Directory hidden?
Lack of Information limits Access
The mission of the FAA is to regulate and oversee all aspects of the nation’s civil aviation. FAA employees work from staff and regional offices, centers and airports across the nation in a variety of occupations to provide the safest, most efficient aviation technology and airspace in the world. As a public agency, it is critical that the agency is transparent to all stakeholders. A pilot, an airport director, a concerned citizen, a Hill staffer, an individual/corporation with an idea for improved safety and even the press need to be able to reach out to THE individual at headquarters, an Airports District Office, an Aviation Safety Inspector or whomever to discuss her/his concern.
The linked headline above (“FAA news- per Politico”) is symptomatic of a growing problem with this safety organization. The resources available to connect with the person or even office with an answer or willing to point the inquirer in the right direction ARE DIMINSHING! That should be a concern for the Administrator (Acting) and is disconcerting to others.
First, the idea that Politico should announce an important position like the #2 person charged with aviation safety is absurd. The appointment or selection of high ranking FAA executives ought to be a matter of public record. The FAA’s Office of the Assistant Administrator for Communications (ACO) has issued more than 20 press releases so far for 2018,~ 34 in 2017 (which included announcements that the Deputy Administrator and the FAA Management Board had been named) and about 45 in 2016. Likely internal notices were distributed, but those outside the FAA walls remain in ignorance.
Efforts to close that gap come from third party sources like Politico and
Where are the new UAS executives, FAA? [a post asking about a promised announcement of two key positions.]
Unfortunately, more than a few beyond the Beltway have misgivings, perhaps more accurately misunderstandings, about the federal government. They see it as an amorphous, invisible and unfeeling entity. That impression is fostered by the absence of information about the humans who take on the challenge and heavy burdens of these offices. Adding some dimensions to the face of the FAA might reduce the anxiety of those who mistrust government. In any event, the talent of the people, their professional experiences, education and accomplishments would enhance the reputation of the FAA and should add to the pride of its own professionals.
The appointment information deficiency remains until the FAA publishes its organizational chart (although there is an order on this relationship designation). The document is issued occasionally and without any schedule. Worse, however, is the degree to which its currency is maintained.
This chart (here in Word format) provides a nice seque to a second point. The executive positions depicted on this chart are vital to the performance of the FAA’s mission. The 72 boxes identify some, not all, of the leaders of this organization. The red boxes signify that the persons sitting in those 14 chairs are there on an acting basis. While these individuals are likely most competent, they are not there on a permanent basis. For some in their organizations, the acting decisions with which a subordinate may disagree may receive the defer/delay treatment until a permanent person is selected. Even where there is no subterfuge, the organizational efficacy is often diminished.
With an Administrator carrying the “Acting” title, there may be a reluctance to pick someone who will work for the Senate confirmed Administrator for 5 years and beyond. To be clear, Dan Elwell is doing an exceptional job and might well be the right pick to be the next Administrator; delay in selecting his successor might not be bad.
Having worked down the “inverted pyramid of journalism”, the subject of the most granular sort has been reached—how do I get in contact with Ms./Mr. XYZ to learn what are the right regulations for my_______? The name is known but how might one call this important source of safety information. On the FAA main page there is an “A to Z” drop down box and it has listed “telephone directory”—the answer to my telephone question is?
[curiously, seeking the same information via Google results in these two links–http://www.orgcharting.com/faa-org-chart-templates-key-divisions/ ; https://careertrend.com/how-6134570-faa-employee.html; neither solves the problem. A friend with a wicked sense of humor suggested that the answer must be found in 14 CFR Part 22 and the author would be Joseph Heller.My repartee was finding an answer in an FAR 22 would not be odd!]
This is not the first time that the Directory has disappeared; so, maybe it is being redesigned. If the listings are being reorganized, then the pop-up on the A to Z page should mention its temporary absence.
Good access to all government agencies is essential to democracy. Given the FAA’s heavy burden of protecting all who fly adds to the importance of announcing new appointments, filling vacancies and providing a real telephone directory. Publicity, Vacancy and Telephony!
 The author held one of these jobs on an acting basis.
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