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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

NTSB would be 'modernized' under reauthorization bill


A bipartisan bill to reauthorize the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was introduced last week in the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced the NTSB Reauthorization Act (S. 2202), which would reauthorize the board at an average level of $113.4 million through fiscal year 2023. The bill also calls for reforms to modernize and improve transparency in the agency's investigations, recommendations and board member discussions, according to a press release issued by the Senate Committee on  Commerce, Science and Transportation.

"After tragic accidents, we ask NTSB to get facts and tell us what went wrong," said Thune. "This legislation expands the agency’s ability to explain causes and improves the NTSB's recommendation process so that we can more effectively address our most pressing safety challenges."

Thune is the committee's chairman and Nelson is ranking member.

Specifically, the bill calls for:
• Adding still images to items the NTSB may disclose during an investigation. The bill also would close loopholes that allowed for the release of confidential information by other federal agencies obtained during NTSB investigations.
• Requiring the NTSB to publish a report on the process used to prioritize and select safety recommendations included in the agency's "Most Wanted List."
• Allowing a majority of members to meet privately and discuss official business with "robust disclosure requirements."

"The National Transportation Safety Board is the driver of safety improvements for our transportation system — whether it's investigating accidents or making recommendations to improve our safety laws," said Nelson. "This bill will expand the board's tools and give them the resources they need to make sure that major transportation accidents are thoroughly investigated."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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