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Audit Reports


FAA Needs To Improve ATCOTS Contract Management To Achieve Its Air Traffic Controller Training Goals

Requested By
Requested by the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Project ID
File Attachment

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.


Closed on
No. 1 to FAA
Create a training plan that clearly defines all air traffic controller training requirements, including proficiency training and training for new systems. The plan should also specify the training requirements to be performed by FAA certified professional controllers and those to be performed by the contractor.
Closed on
No. 2 to FAA
Implement a procedure to identify costs related to internal training performed by FAA controllers, such as a timekeeping code to record hours that controllers spend teaching classroom and simulator training, including any overtime hours accrued for training.
Closed on
No. 3 to FAA
Develop a plan to assess internal resources and verify that controllers will be available to teach training at each facility.
Closed on
No. 4 to FAA
Update cost estimates, and determine whether (a) training requirements can be met within the current contract value of $859 million, (b) the acquisition should be rebaselined and/or recompeted, or (c) the remaining contract options should be exercised.
Closed on
No. 5 to FAA
Implement procedures to hold FAA oversight staff accountable for overseeing contractor performance at the facilities, including completing required semi-annual performance evaluations.
Closed on
No. 6 to FAA
Develop a process to ensure the contract files are maintained as required by FAA's Acquisition Management System.
Closed on
No. 7 to FAA
Determine whether training innovations should be funded under the ATCOTS contract or competed under a separate contract, and modify the ATCOTS contract to reflect this determination.
Closed on $14,100,000
No. 8 to FAA
Determine whether FAA should eliminate the cost incentive fee and modify the contract to a cost-plus-award-fee type.
Closed on
No. 9 to FAA
Modify the award fees to (a) develop performance measures that motivate contractors to achieve program goals and (b) ensure that fees are paid only for performance that links to key training goals and does not conflict with other contract objectives.
Closed on
No. 10 to FAA
Perform an integrated baseline review to (a) identify the training requirements that should be included in the budget baseline; (b) identify the risks for maintaining the budget and plans for adequately mitigating those risks; and (c) determine whether resources are sufficient for completing the work.