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President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the National Transportation Safety Board told senators she intends to enhance the agency’s approach to new technologies and workforce development.
Appearing before the U.S. Commerce Committee on June 24, Jennifer Homendy pledged to improve the safety agency’s management systems and adopt certain programs meant to reduce the length of time to complete investigations.
Homendy, an NTSB board member, began her tenure with the agency in 2018. Prior to the NTSB she was a congressional staffer.
“Technology is constantly evolving and being integrated into our transportation system. For these reasons, we are initiating a workforce needs assessment to evaluate our existing workload and identify our immediate gaps and future needs in resources,” the nominee told the panel.
She continued, “The assessment will help us determine what we will need five or 10 years down the road by evaluating industry trends and determining what resources are required, what skill sets we will need, and how we will find those resources and skills. And it is absolutely critical, as we look at our resources, that we maximize our opportunities to create a diverse and inclusive, highly-skilled workforce of the future.”
Responding to a questionnaire from the Senate committee, Homendy addressed her views on workforce development: “As the federal government faces a growing number of retirements, it is vitally important that we focus on developing a diverse and inclusive workforce and environment within the agency.”
Cantwell introduces Homendy at June 24 hearing. (commerce.senate.gov)
Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) praised her background on transportation safety matters and pointed to policies on the panel’s radar. “The concerns of this committee on aerospace and aerospace safety remain paramount. This is an issue, like in all areas of automation and human response, whether we’re talking about the rail sector or the automobile sector, the aviation sector, we believe we need to give specific focus to this,” Cantwell said.
The committee has yet to announce a vote on Homendy’s nomination. If confirmed by the Senate, she would succeed NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt, who recently announced his retirement.
NTSB is an independent agency with a mission of investigating aviation and high-profile transportation accidents. It publishes a “Most Wanted List” of priorities to alert the public of strategies meant to improve safety.
Besides Homendy, the Senate committee also is considering the nominations of Karen Hedlund to be a member of the Surface Transportation Board, Robert Hampshire to be assistant secretary for Research and Technology at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Carol Petsonk to be assistant secretary for Aviation and International Affairs at USDOT.
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