DARs – Where Can They Work? From Home?

I have heard from quite a few ASA members that their DARs are being told that they can no longer work from their own facilities.  This is a problem for many DARs who receive parts at their home or office, review each part and its paperwork, and then if the part is eligible the DAR issues an 8130-3 tag for the part.

The source of the issue appears to be an FAA email that stated:

It has come to the attention of the FAA some designees are unclear on where FAA Form 8130-3 may be issued when performing authorized work at the request of a distributor.  As defined in FAA Order 8130.21, any certification work when performed on a distributor’s inventory must be performed at the distributor’s place of business.  This policy does not allow for a designee to perform these functions at their personal home location.  In addition, the Designee Management Policy in FAA Order 8000.95 requires the designee to define the location of where the activity is going to take place, prior to the FAA delegating the function.

Contrary to the email, there is no general requirement in FAA Order 8130.21H that 8130-3 tags must be issued “at the distributor’s place of business.”  We’ve been in touch with FAA Headquarters about this, and they have pledged to examine the situation.

Different Type of DARs

In examining the guidance situation, it is important to remember that there are different types of DARs with different privileges.  There are DARs who received their privileges under FAA Policy memos:

Those DARs are typically restricted to only working at the facility of the sponsoring distributor.  The reason for this is because their privileges are tied to the AC 00-56B system of the distributor. They use a systems approach based on the accredited system to support their findings.

These ‘limited-DARs’ should be contrasted with traditional DARs who are not specifically tied to an accredited distributor.  Traditional DARs are typically limited to the geographical range of the office from which they received their credentials (the managing office).  If the DAR needs to work outside of that range, then there is a well-documented process for expanding those geographic limitations (it involves assurances that the FAA is able to adequately monitor and supervise the designee, as well as coordination between geographically relevant offices).

Note of course that a DAR who lives in a geographic district different from that of his or her FAA managing office should consider transferring to a more geographically-suitable FAA managing office if he or she plans to work from (and issue tags from) a home office.  Designee operations outside of the geographic territory of the managing office are typically not permitted without written permission from the FAA.

Limit on ‘Traditional’ DARs

The recent email received by some DARs appears to have been sent to traditional DARs.  But it appears to have confused the restrictions placed on the special category DARs who work on for distributors (and who must operate within the AC 00-56 quality system of the distributor), with the privileges of ‘normal’ DARs, who may operate anywhere within their prescribed geographic limitations.

This is more than just a matter of confusion of standards.  There are problems with this directive, including:

(1) Order 8130.21H states that when a tag is issued at a distributor’s facility then the distributor’s name and address should be placed in block 4 – but this does not limit where the tag can be issued – it only sets a rule for how to complete block 4 (this is consistent with the guidance in para 2-5(b) of that same order, which requires block 4 to state the name and address where the tag is issued;

(2) There is no restriction in Order 8130.21H that forbids a DAR from operating out of his or her home, even when reviewing parts that belong to a distributor;

(3) Many DARs are both semi-retired and aged, so it is not unusual for many of them to operate out of their home offices,

(4) When the DAR operates out of his or her home office, the distributor must bring the parts to the DAR for review prior to issue of the tag; and,

(5) Order 8130.21H requires that the 8130-3 state where the tag was issued, so it is supposed to list the DAR’s home office address, if that is where the tag was issued.

The recent language is already causing problems for several distributors, whose DARs feel that they can no longer accept and review parts at their home offices.

ASA has brought this to the attention of FAA management, and they rapidly pledged to examine the situation.

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DAR Privileges, During the Shutdown

We have been receiving queries about what the Government Shutdown means for DARs who issue 8130-3 tags.  The Government Shutdown began Friday night after midnight, when the appropriations continuing resolution expired.

Some people have received notification that their DAR needs pre-approval from their FAA Advisor before doing any DAR work; in the absence of working FAA employees, such pre-approval may be impossible. This means that those DARs may be unable to function during the shutdown because of the absence of FAA employees to issue such pre-approval.

But this does not mean that all DARs are inhibited in this way.  In fact, many DARs should be able to issue 8130-3 tags during the government shutdown.

What is the Legal Effect of the Shutdown?

The U.S. Constitution limits the ability of the government to use funds by stating that money can only be spent if it is permitted under an “Appropriation.”

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time. U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9, Clause 7

The government is shut down because the government no longer has the authority to spend funds (because the appropriated funding from the most recent continuing resolution ran out on Friday, January 19).

The continuing resolutions that have been discussed in the press have appropriated funds for temporary periods, in order to keep the government functioning at its prior appropriated levels during the temporary funding period. Congress did not pass any sort of extension by the deadline, so the U.S. Government no longer has authority to spend money.

The government shutdown does not mean that the government can’t function – it means that the government can’t spend money.  DARs do not draw any appropriated funds from the U.S. Treasury for their DAR activities, and thus their activities are not curtailed merely as a consequence of the government shutdown.

What Rules Apply to DARs?

There are other rules that apply to DARs that might curtail their activities, or some of their activities, depending on the specific written authority that they’ve been granted.

FAA guidance explains that:

“DARs may perform authorized functions only within the limits of their authority.” FAA Order 8100.8D – Designee Management Handbook ¶ 1410(b).

DARs cannot perform functions outside the authority.  So if you couldn’t perform a function before the shutdown, you still cannot do it during the shutdown.  This also means that if the DAR’s written instructions required him or her to obtain FAA-Advisor approval before beginning a project, that the government shutdown may inhibit that DAR from starting new projects (due to lack of pre-approval).  Similarly if the DAR received appropriate approval before the shutdown (e.g. on Friday the 19th), then the DAR would still be eligible ,

The same FAA guidance also explains that the FAA needs to obtain authorization before accepting “certification or inspection activity.”

“DARs must contact their managing office for authorization BEFORE accepting any certification or inspection activity requested by an applicant and obtain any special directions or instructions deemed necessary.” FAA Order 8100.8D – Designee Management Handbook ¶ 1410(c).

This means that DARs need be authorized to perform DAR work before they start it.  For projects involving complete aircraft, this can mean going back to the FAA Advisor for each aircraft, which permits the FAA Advisor to review any special conditions applicable to that aircraft.  But typically, DARs are provided with general authorization to issue 8130-3 tags for articles, and the DAR’s instructions will be issued with that general authorization.  It would be extremely impractical for DARs to go back to their FAA advisors for form-by-form instructions for each 8130-3 tag that they issue.  It is not unusual for the FAA to insist on annual or quarterly activity reports showing the 8130-3 tags issued (thus permitting review of the use of the authority as it has been exercised).

DAR Advice

What does this mean for DARs who issue 8130-3 tags for articles?  It means that they should go back to their authorizing documents and ensure that they do not have any restrictions that would forbid exercise of authority during the shutdown.  As long as there is no limitation/prohibition, and as long as the DAR has general authority to issue 8130-3 tags, it should be acceptable for the DAR to continue issuing 8130-3 tags during the government shutdown in the same manner that the DAR did before the shutdown.

For DARs who are exercising authority under the FAA’s policy memos, be sure that you are operating under the authority of the appropriate FAA guidance, including the policy memos, which impose additional limits beyond those in the FAA Orders.  For more on this authority, see our past articles:

And also be sure to review the FAA’s policy memo guidance and remain in compliance with the terms and conditions found therein:

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