January 8, 1999
Hon. Rodney E. Slater
Secretary of Transportation
400 7th St. SW, Room 10205
Washington, D.C. 20590
Dear Secretary Slater,
The General Accounting Office (GAO) has finished their report (GAO/RCED-99-41) on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) complying with requirements for local involvement in noise mitigation projects. I ordered this study because residents living around Sea-Tac International Airport complained that the FAA did not follow the grant assurance policy calling for an airport owner to obtain written declaration that their project is consistent with local plans and has local support from communities affected by airport noise.
The report concluded that the FAA does not follow their policy that requests noise mitigation grant applications to include written declaration that an Airport Improvement Program (AIP) project be consistent with local plans and has local support. Moreover, the GAO recommends that, if the FAA chooses not to require written declarations, then they should remove the requirement from the list of AIP grant assurances. I believe this would be a hasty mistake. Though this policy is not enforceable by law or regulation, it is a sound policy nonetheless.
I believe the FAA should include the written declarations grant assurance in the public participation component of the airport noise compatibility plan. Otherwise, valuable information will not be collected. The level of detail provided in a written declaration from each city, county, municipality or any other agency with control or authority over property affected by airport noise is optimal. When the airport owner uses broad measurement to collect information about local concerns, data quality decreases. Whereas, information about the views, attitudes, feelings, and concerns of the local community is collected best at the micro level of written declaration from local governments.
I encourage you to instruct the Administrator of the FAA to enforce all standing AIP grant assurances. I took forward to discussing this issue in more detail with you. In the meantime, please provide me a written response to this letter.