Status of FAA's Efforts to Operate and Modernize the National Airspace System
The Inspector General testified on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) efforts to more effectively operate and modernize the National Airspace System. He noted that despite reforms aimed at improving internal operations and reducing costs, FAA’s total budget, operations budget, and compensation costs have nearly doubled, while productivity at its network of air traffic facilities decreased substantially. FAA’s reform efforts have not met their goals largely because the Agency has not effectively leveraged its personnel reform authorities or implemented business-like practices. The Inspector General also testified that FAA’s new acquisition management system and numerous organizational changes have not improved major system acquisitions outcomes. These acquisitions continue to experience cost increases and schedule delays— especially for modernization programs for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen)— largely due to longstanding and systemic contract management weaknesses. Finally, the Inspector General identified additional challenges that FAA faces in modernizing the Nation’s air traffic control system. These include responding to NextGen priorities recommended by a joint Agency-industry committee, safely integrating unmanned aircraft systems into U.S. airspace, and ensuring that appropriate business continuity plans are in place to mitigate potential security risks to the air traffic control system.