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Letter to Representative Petri Regarding Costs Associated with the FAA's Air Traffic Managers Conference

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At the request of Representative Thomas Petri, Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, we examined the approximately $5.1 million in costs associated with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) December 2009 Air Traffic Organization Managers Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  FAA organized the conference to provide in-depth training to managers on its new, 3-year labor agreement with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.  The new agreement includes significant new pay and benefit provisions and is the product of years of negotiation between FAA and the union. 

To ensure Government resources were used appropriately for the conference, we reviewed (1) all expenses and estimates related to the event; (2) FAA’s adherence to its acquisition guidelines and best practices; and (3) ways FAA could have minimized or reduced total costs, which could also be applied to similar conferences and events.

We found that the conference costs were in line with FAA's estimates and that officials responsible for planning the events followed Agency guidance and best practices and selected the “best value” when determining the host city and venue.  While there were some opportunities to reduce the overall cost of the event, FAA did have legitimate business reasons for not pursuing them. Based on our findings, we are not making any recommendations to FAA.