Audit Reports

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Management of Software-Intensive Acquisitions for Free Flight Phase 1

Project ID: 

We are currently reviewing the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Free Flight Phase 1 initiative with particular emphasis on cost, schedule, human factors, and software development progress. This interim report provides our observations to date on how FAA can strengthen the management of two Free Flight Phase 1 software-intensive acquisitions. We met with Director of Research and Acquisitions and the Director of the Free Flight Phase 1 Program Office to discuss our results and have taken their comments into consideration in preparing this report. We will provide a full report on the status of all Free Flight Phase 1 technologies at a later date.

Free Flight Phase 1 is the limited deployment of technologies at select locations in the United States to enhance air traffic management and to improve information sharing between FAA and airlines. It offers the potential to improve the flow of air traffic and provide benefits to airspace users, principally commercial airlines.

As part of our review, we analyzed FAA’s use of earned value management and software metrics. Earned value management and software metrics are widely recognized ways to measure progress of large-scale, software-intensive acquisitions. Earned value management 1 goes beyond the two-dimensional approach of comparing budgeted costs to actual costs. It analyzes actual costs and technical progress of a program, compares that data to planned costs, and forecasts how much the program will cost and when it will be delivered. Software metrics measure the attributes of software development such as complexity, productivity, and operational requirements and can help agencies monitor the technical progress of software development. We performed our work from March 1999 to September 1999 in accordance with Government Auditing Standards as prescribed by the Comptroller General of the United States.