Yesterday in an interview, I told Lois Romano of The Washington Post that people will soon be reading that the Department of Transportation will not keep secret the data we collect on birds striking airplanes.
You may have heard previous reports that the Federal Aviation Administration had planned to withhold public release of airplane-bird collision information. Well, that just isn't consistent with the direction President Obama wants to take this Administration. It doesn't fit our policies thus far, and it doesn't fit the way we see our mission.
When I was in Congress, I sat on the House Intelligence Committee for 8 years. When I saw that the Administration had released the memos on torture, I thought, never in my life did I dream this sort of information would be released. But, if CIA information like that can see the light of day, there is a new paradigm, and making bird-strike reports available should certainly be a part of that new paradigm.
There's nothing amiss about the FAA wanting to keep this information under wraps. Reporting bird-strikes is a voluntary activity on the part of pilots and airlines; the FAA simply reasoned that knowing the data would be made public might lead to reduced reporting of incidents.
In the end, however, the Department of Transportation is, among other things, a safety agency. Public disclosure is our job. The sea change in government transparency is beginning, and we are happy to be a part of it.