The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Sept. 27 reported hiring a record number of employees this year “to keep up with emerging technologies and reduce the average time it takes to complete investigations.”
According to NTSB, 433 employees will be on staff at the end of the current fiscal year, up 9% from the 397 staffers in August 2019. Last year, it hired 57 new employees, vs. seven in 2017, and is on track to add 70 this year, it said. The workforce had remained flat since the mid-1990s, according to the agency, “even as new transportation technologies have flourished.”
NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy on Sept. 25 swore in 15 new employees, the largest new-hire cohort in years, NTSB reported. The agency noted that the Office of Aviation Safety’s air traffic control division is now fully staffed for the first time in seven years and the number of investigators in the Office of Rail, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations has increased nearly 50%. Increased staffing, it added, helped to reduce the number of investigative reports more than two years old—from a high of 442 cases in February 2022 to zero by Sept. 30.
NTSB said it has obtained, in the past two years, direct hire authority from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for “mission-critical positions to streamline the hiring process and target the right level of expertise for the job.” The agency noted that it also reorganized its human resources department, hired its first Chief Human Capital Officer, and “leveraged data to identify and remediate bottlenecks in the hiring process.”
“My vision for the NTSB is an agency where everything we do—from our investigations to our advocacy to our internal processes and procedures—advances our critical safety mission,” Homendy said. “The first step was to right-size our agency’s workforce, which had been stagnant for decades, because it is our people who will ensure the NTSB is a ‘mission-first’ agency for years to come.”