The Audit found the lack of a risk-based process of oversight problematic, and criticized the FAA’s focus on education over enforcement.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General has issued a damning report on the FAA’s oversight of commercial drones, saying that the agency has “limited knowledge of where UAS actually operate and limited means to oversee [commercial] operators.”
The Inspector General’s Audit Report concludes that the FAA is insufficiently trained, has poor communication systems,lacks good oversight process, and has not enforced drone laws sufficiently.
The report, authored by DOT’s Assistant Inspector General Matthew Hampton, is the result of a year-long audit of the FAA’s oversight of commercial drones performed between October 2015 and October 2016.
The report says that the FAA streamlined it’s process of granting commercial licensing for drone operators too quickly, resulting in slipshod procedures that did not track operators effectively or even ensure that operators understood the requirements clearly.
The OIG claims that the agency still does not have a “fully developed risk-based process to oversee UAS operations” and focuses more on “education rather
For instance, the report says, the FAA has not established an “automated data and reporting tracking system for current UAS activity” or a “centralized database for reporting and classifying UAS incidents.”
The Audit found the lack of a risk-based process of oversight problematic, and criticized the FAA’s focus on education over enforcement. The report concludes with recommendations that include the development of comprehensive drone training for inspectors, improved communications systems with field offices, development of risk-based oversight procedures, and the periodic testing of commercial drone operators.