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FAA Lacks the Metrics and Data Needed To Accurately Measure the Outcomes of Its Controller Productivity Initiatives

Requested by the Chairmen of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and its Aviation Subcommittee
Project ID: 
AV2014062

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employs more than 15,000 air traffic controllers. Between fiscal years 2000 and 2012, total air traffic operations in the National Airspace System declined by 23 percent. However, in the same timeframe, the number of air traffic controllers remained relatively constant and controller costs increased. This has raised concerns about whether controllers are remaining as productive as possible during a period of reduced air traffic.

Since 1998, FAA has implemented 51 initiatives intended to increase controller productivity, reduce operating costs, and improve training and hiring practices. However, according to FAA, only two of these initiatives resulted in measurable cost savings totaling approximately $4.5 million, while six initiatives actually increased Agency costs. In addition, FAA has been unable to demonstrate the results of many controller productivity initiatives largely because it has missed opportunities to assess their effectiveness. Notably, the Agency did not establish detailed baseline metrics or quantifiable cost and productivity goals for 43 (84 percent) of its 51 initiatives. In addition, FAA does not systematically collect or analyze controller workforce data to reduce cost or improve productivity.

FAA concurred with all five of our recommendations to improve the effectiveness of its controller productivity initiatives and data collection at air traffic control facilities.

Recommendations

Open

Closed

Closed on 07.13.2016
No. 1 to FAA

Assess current controller productivity initiatives to determine whether they will achieve anticipated cost savings or productivity gains and document the results of this assessment.

Closed on 11.23.2015
No. 2 to FAA

Develop a process to ensure future controller productivity initiatives include measurable milestones and cost and productivity goals.

No. 3 to FAA

Analyze its operational and financial data to identify opportunities to increase controller productivity and reduce operating costs.

No. 4 to FAA

Require controllers to maintain their own time-on-position records by signing in and out in Cru-X/ART.

Closed on 11.30.2017
No. 5 to FAA

Ensure that all facilities implement and use new Cru-X/ART task codes designed to better differentiate the tasks that controllers are completing.