Summary: S.579 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Public Law No: 108-168 (12/06/2003)

National Transportation Safety Board Reauthorization Act of 2003 - (Sec. 2) Amends Federal transportation law to extend the authorization of appropriations for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for FY 2003 through 2006, including the NTSB Academy and an emergency fund.

Authorizes appropriations necessary to increase the emergency fund from $2 million to $3 million.

Authorizes the NTSB to impose and collect appropriate fees for services provided by or through the Academy. Credits receipts as offsetting collections to the account that finances Academy activities. Requires an annual report on the activities and operations of the Academy.

(Sec. 3) Relieves the NTSB of the duty to render specified assistance to families of passengers involved in an aircraft accident if the NTSB has relinquished its investigative priority to investigate it and the Federal agency to which it has relinquished such priority is willing and able to provide assistance to the victims and families of the passengers. Requires the NTSB, however, even if it has relinquished such priority, to assist, to the maximum extent possible, the agency to which it has relinquished it in assisting families with respect to the accident.

Directs the NTSB and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to revise their 1977 agreement on the investigation of accidents to take into account the amendments made by this Act, and to submit such revision to specified congressional committees.

(Sec. 4) Allows the NTSB to enter into agreements or contracts necessary to conduct accident investigations without regard to competition requirements if necessary to expedite investigation. Requires that each contract for at least $25,000 be enumerated in the NTSB's annual report to Congress.

(Sec. 5) Requires any NTSB employee, whenever heor she determines that an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft, but not resulting in a loss of life, constitutes an accident, to notify the aircraft owner or operator of the right to appeal that determination to the NTSB. Requires the NTSB to establish and publish appeal procedures.

(Sec. 6) Revises requirements for an annual report to Congress by the Secretary of Transportation on NTSB transportation safety recommendations. Requires the Secretary to report on February 1 of each year to Congress and the NTSB on the regulatory status of each recommendation on the NTSB "most wanted list," until final regulatory action is taken or the Secretary (or an Administration within the Department of Transportation (DOT)) determines and reports that no action should be taken. Requires the NTSB to report to specified congressional committees on March 1 of each year if it has not received the Secretary's report.

(Sec. 8) Amends Federal transportation law and the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 to make certain technical and conforming amendments with respect to the investigative authority of the DOT Inspector General.

(Sec. 9) Requires the Secretary to report biennially to Congress and the NTSB on the regulatory status of each NTSB open safety recommendation concerning: (1) 15-passenger van safety; (2) railroad grade crossing safety; and (3) medical certifications for a commercial driver's license. Requires NTSB notification to specified congressional committees of any failure to receive such report.