FAA Is Not Effectively Managing Air Traffic Controller Mid-Term Bargaining Agreements
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) management of its air traffic control workforce—one of the Agency’s largest cost drivers—depends on effective coordination and negotiation with its labor union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). In March 2012, FAA and NATCA agreed to extend their existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) until July 2016.
Our review found that FAA incurred unanticipated costs and remains at risk of further cost increases primarily due to two provisions in the 2012 CBA extension: (1) mid-term bargaining and (2) pay setting rules. Although both provisions serve legitimate purposes, FAA’s ineffective management of these provisions resulted in several costly mid-term bargaining agreements between the Agency and NATCA. In addition, FAA’s internal controls have been ineffective, in part because FAA Headquarters has not followed its established policies to control costs. For example, of the 40 national negotiations between FAA Headquarters and NATCA since 2009, only 1 received a required budget analysis. Because FAA has not followed its internal control policies, the total number of mid-term agreements and their true cost impact remains unknown.
We made four recommendations to improve FAA’s management and oversight of the provisions of the 2012 CBA extension. FAA fully concurred with all four recommendations.