Audit Reports

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FAA's Air Traffic Controller Optimum Training Solution Program: Sound Contract Management Practices are Needed to Achieve Program Outcomes

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On September 30, we issued our report on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Air Traffic Controller Optimum Training Solution Program (ATCOTS). ATCOTS is a critical component of FAA's plans to hire and train 15,000 new controllers by 2018. In 2008, FAA awarded a contract to Raytheon to provide training support for new and existing controllers and to help modernize the training program. We conducted this audit at the request of the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, who stated that while ATCOTS could bring positive changes, a better understanding of the financial and contractual aspects is needed. Accordingly, our audit objectives were to determine (1) whether effective management and contract controls are in place to ensure program goals are achieved and (2) if the program has improved training methods currently provided to the controller workforce. 

In designing and executing the ATCOTS program, FAA did not fully (1) mitigate staffing and cost issues identified during acquisition planning, (2) adequately define how many controllers would need training, or (3) initially implement adequate controls to oversee contractor services or ensure that fees paid for performance were justified. As a result, FAA now faces significant challenges in achieving the program’s goals.  To date, the ATCOTS contract costs and fees have far exceeded baseline estimates. Moreover, those funds have only been sufficient to support existing training methods and procedures; innovations to reduce training time and cost have not been implemented. 

We made nine recommendations to improve oversight of the ATCOTS contract. FAA fully concurred with eight and proposed acceptable alternative actions for the remaining recommendation. FAA has also begun actions to address many of the issues identified during our audit. However, unless there is a significant decrease in its current training requirements, it will be difficult for FAA to achieve the original ATCOTS program goals or any training innovations without significantly modifying the existing contract.