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