The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires commercial airlines to self-report diversions and tarmac delays, and these delay reports will often trigger DOT investigation and penalties. The intent of the requirement is clear-to incentivize fewer and shorter delays, and give the general public information on airline performance so that they can make informed decisions. In a comical twist, in a September 21, 2010, Consent Order, the DOT and United Airlines compromised on a $12,000 penalty assessed against United (half suspended and to be waived for good behavior) because United erroneously reported four instances of excessive tarmac delays that, after DOT investigation, turned out to be not excessive and not within the reporting requirement. When passengers are given the option to disembark, the clock on excessive tarmac delays stops running, so the four incidents were not reportable violations. In a truly collectible piece of administrative prose, the DOT states that, "United's misreporting of this data wasted valuable Department resources, since only after the [DOT] Enforcement Office initiated its investigation did it learn that United improperly filed the data." The $12,000 seemed like a good lesson to United and a deterrence to others who may be thinking about misreporting their errors. If only the constituent air carriers could assess similar charges against the DOT for its investigations that turn out to be unsubstantiated and a waste of the carrier's time. This gem (Order 2010-9-22) is available for download at