FAA Needs to Strengthen Controls Over the 2009 FAA/NATCA Collective Bargaining Agreement
On June 9, 2011, we issued a report on cost issues related to the 2009 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). We conducted our review at the request of the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The 2009 CBA is the first successfully negotiated CBA since a 5-year agreement ratified in 1998, which was associated with significant cost overruns. FAA estimates that the 2009 agreement will cost $669 million more than extending the controller work rules that were in place prior to the 2009 agreement. We found that while FAA’s methodology for developing this estimate appears to be reasonable, it includes several assumptions that may increase total costs, such as the rate at which veteran controllers retire. There are also some provisions in the 2009 CBA that could escalate costs beyond FAA’s estimate, including negotiated memoranda of understanding (MOU). While FAA established controls in 2003 to prevent additional costs with MOUs, we found that those controls are insufficient and that Agency personnel do not consistently adhere to them. We made four recommendations to help FAA ensure its internal control policies are sufficient to prevent cost escalations. FAA concurred with or met the intent of our recommendations, and we consider them resolved pending completion of planned actions.