FAA Needs To Improve ATCOTS Contract Management To Achieve Its Air Traffic Controller Training Goals
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to hire over 11,700 air traffic controllers through fiscal year 2021. To help develop the new cadre of professional air traffic controllers FAA awarded the $859-million Air Traffic Control Optimum Training Solution (ATCOTS) contract, which is intended to provide up to 10 years of controller training support. In September 2010, we reported on FAA’s weak acquisition practices and lack of effective contract oversight for the ATCOTS contract. At the request of the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, we conducted a follow-up review to determine FAA’s progress in addressing our prior findings and recommendations, as well as to determine whether FAA can achieve ATCOTS training goals under the current contract. We found that, although FAA addressed 8 of 9 recommendations from our prior report, weaknesses in contract and program oversight continue. Due to lack of clearly defined requirements, the ATCOTS program experienced 4 consecutive years of cost overruns, totaling about $89 million. FAA has also not been able to achieve key training goals to reduce training time and innovate training and has not measured its progress toward its goal to reduce training costs. In addition, FAA’s cost incentives were ineffective for controlling costs; and the performance measures FAA used for award fees were not tied to enhancing key contract goals. FAA concurred with 9 of 10 recommendations, and partially concurred with one. However, we are requesting additional information for 7 recommendations.