Air Traffic Control Modernization: FAA Faces Challenges in Managing Ongoing Projects, Sustaining Existing Facilities, and Introducing New Capabilities
On April 14, 2008, we issued our report on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) air traffic control modernization efforts. At the request of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, we examined three objectives: (1) trends in recent FAA capital spending, (2) changes in cost and schedule baselines of major acquisitions, and (3) the effect of the transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) on existing projects. We found that recent capital funding has focused on sustaining the system but is now beginning to be shaped by NextGen. We also found that FAA is not experiencing the cost growth and schedule slips in major acquisitions that occurred in the past. This is primarily due to FAA’s incremental approach of approving programs’ cost and schedule baselines. While FAA is meeting acquisition cost and schedule metrics, the metrics do not take into account emerging changes in requirements or units to be procured. Finally, we found that much work is needed to determine NextGen’s impact on existing programs and to set realistic expectations for what new capabilities can be delivered. Our recommendations to FAA focused on: (1) developing new metrics for measuring NextGen progress on expanding capacity and boosting productivity, (2) completing a gap analysis between the current National Airspace System and the NextGen enterprise architectures, and (3) establishing an interim architecture to determine priorities to allow more accurate NextGen costs and requirements.