FAA’s Acquisition Strategy for Terminal Modernization Is at Risk for Cost Increases, Schedule Delays, and Performance Shortfalls
Since 1996, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been working to modernize and standardize the terminal automation systems that air traffic controllers rely on to manage traffic within a 50-mile radius of airports. Now known as the Terminal Automation Modernization/Replacement (TAMR) program, this effort is necessary both to replace aging equipment and achieve FAA’s goals to enhance capacity and reduce delays through the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). FAA is currently working on segment 1, phase 3 of TAMR, which aims to install the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) at 11 large terminal facilities.
Our audit found that FAA faces significant risks in developing and implementing the technical requirements for its current terminal modernization effort. Specifically, FAA has yet to identify and finalize all the software and hardware requirements needed to successfully install STARS at the 11 large terminal facilities. In addition, FAA’s final investment decision did not result in a reliable schedule and cost baseline for implementing STARS at these facilities, putting TAMR at risk of further schedule delays and cost growth. For example, FAA’s approved schedule to deploy STARS by 2017 lacks key deployment milestones and completion dates and was not evaluated for risk. In addition, FAA omitted major program cost elements from the cost baseline approved during its final investment decision, such as an estimated $270 million in technical software refresh and modernization costs. FAA concurred with three of our four recommendations to improve FAA’s effectiveness in achieving terminal modernization. FAA partially concurred with one recommendation, and we are requesting additional information for one recommendation.