September 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, by which New Zealand adopted international best practice in enabling safety-focused investigations distinct and distanced from regulatory and other jurisdictions. With the powers of a Commission of Inquiry and the status of an independent Crown entity, the Commission strives to ensure through careful conduct and sound investigative techniques that all concerned can retain confidence that the Commission’s investigative system is free from bias and conflict and the threat of sanction.
A review of how we interpret our discretion to determine which qualifying incidents or accidents we investigate was completed to ensure we focus our resources on inquiries with the greatest potential to enhance transport safety. During the current year we completed research on the first occasional impact review exploring whether and how our work is influencing transport safety.
International work involving accidents in France, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Tonga took up significant amounts of the Commission’s aviation and marine resources during the year under review, while the rail team made good progress towards clearing an inquiry backlog.
The Commission strives for continuous self-improvement. The initiatives described above and later in this report, together with a governance and management focus on ensuring probity and value in spending decisions, strong best practice and training links with our international colleagues, and the introduction of a formal staff performance management system in the current year, all help to ensure that efficiency, effectiveness, progress and accountability can be tested and demonstrated.
The year under review was conducted mainly under the stewardship of my predecessor, the Hon Bill Jeffries. I would like to acknowledge his influence and contribution over 13 years, along with the input of my fellow Commissioners and the staff, to help build what I have found to be a hardworking and expert team committed to the organisational vision of "safer transport through investigation, learning and influence".
John Marshall QC