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Weaknesses In Program And Contract Management Contribute To ERAM Delays And Put Other NextGen Initiatives At Risk

Requested By
Requested by the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development and Related Agencies
Project ID
File Attachment

On September 13, 2012, we issued a report on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) progress and problems with the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) program, a multibillion dollar air traffic management system that will provide the foundation for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).  ERAM is a key NextGen enabling program for controlling high-altitude flights. It replaces a 40-year-old computer hardware and software system, plus a backup, and more than 800 computer display workstations at 20 of FAA’s Air Route Traffic Control Centers.

We found that FAA has experienced extensive software problems with ERAM that have delayed the effort by almost 4 years, with cost increases that could reach in excess of $500 million.  FAA’s problems with ERAM are attributable to fundamental program management weaknesses as well as weaknesses in its contract—a contract that wasnot structured or administered to effectively manage costs and achieve desired outcomes.  Ultimately, ERAM’s delays pose significant risks to other critical NextGen initiatives. ERAM is on much stronger footing now than when we began our review, mostly due to sustained management attention by FAA leadership as well as focused risk management and close work with controllers.  However, while FAA has made strides towards improving its program and contract management for ERAM, considerable risk still lies ahead as FAA implements ERAM at some of the Nation’s busiest facilities.

FAA concurred with 12 of our 13 recommendations to improve ERAM’s program management, testing, contract structure, and oversight.  Based on FAA’s response, we are requesting that the Agency provide additional information and/or reconsider its response for four recommendations.


Closed on
No. 1 to FAA
We recommend that the ERAM Progam Office develop a mitigation plan to address ERAM's core capabilities problems at all 20 ERAM sites before deploying new capabilities
Closed on
No. 2 to FAA
Evaluate available options and take action to deploy an additional backup for ERAM until the system has become significantly more mature.
Closed on $157,000,000
No. 3 to FAA
We recommend that FAA's Acquisiton Executive revise the Contract Line Item Number (CLIN) structure to more effectively track ERAM costs. This should include establishing subordinate CLINs, cost targets, and incentives to better achieve program objectives, beginning with software release 4.
Closed on
No. 4 to FAA
We recommend that FAA's Acquisiton Executive include a requirement in the AMS to definitize CLINs in a reasonable time period, such as FAR's 180-day benchmark. Ensure that future ERAM CLINs are definitized according to the new requirement.
Closed on
No. 5 to FAA
We recommend that FAA's Acquisiton Executive design incentives to better achieve desired program outcomes. For example, offer incentives over shorter intervals, such as bi-annually, to effectively motivate the contractor.
Closed on
No. 6 to FAA
We recommend that FAA's Acquisiton Executive review AMS requirements for a contracts file list and contract maintenance procedures to verify that they are adequate. In addition, develop a process to verify that major contract files are reviewed by FAA's National Acquisition Evaluation Program for compliance with AMS policy and best practices for contract management.
Closed on
No. 7 to FAA
Develop a formal process for ERAM invoice reviews that requires supporting documentation, such as travel vouchers and hotel receipts.
Closed on
No. 8 to FAA
We recommend that FAA's Acquisiton Executive update the performance measurement baseline for ERAM's earned value management system to include all remaining work on the ERAM contract, including planned work that has not yet been priced and work performed by the Government.
Closed on
No. 9 to FAA
We recommend that FAA's Acquisiton Executive develop procedures in FAA's "Program Level Integrated Baseline Review Guide" to verify that integrated baseline reviews meet the requirements and to establish a time frame for conducting integrated baseline reviews after executing major contract modifications.
Closed on
No. 10 to FAA
We recommend that FAA's Acquisiton Executive complete the comprehensive risk management guidance that FAA is currently developing, to more effectively manage acquisition risks.
Closed on
No. 11 to FAA
Assess current testing capabilities and limitations at FAA's Technical Center and develop corrective action plans to more robustly test future complex software-intense air traffic systems.
Closed on
No. 12 to FAA
Require complex software-intensive systems (that are interdependent on other systems, such as ERAM) to be successfully tested in a live, operational environment, at one or more FAA air traffic facilities, prior to Government Acceptance.
Closed on
No. 13 to FAA
Revise AMS to better define key milestones, such as Government Acceptance and initial operating capability, so that milestones are clear measures of progress for managing major acquisitions.