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Audit Reports


FAA Reforms Have Not Achieved Expected Cost, Efficiency, and Modernization Outcomes

Requested By
Requested by the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Aviation Subcommittee
Project ID
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Over the past 2 decades, Congress has enacted legislation aimed at making the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) a performance-based organization that would operate effectively and efficiently while improving the delivery of air traffic services and expediting modernization efforts. However, while FAA has implemented the requirements of past reform legislation, completed several reorganizations, and implemented cost-cutting measures, these efforts have not slowed the Agency’s escalating operating costs or improved its productivity. In fact, FAA’s total budget, operations account, and total personnel compensation and benefits costs doubled while air traffic facility productivity declined. In addition, FAA reports that acquisition and organizational reforms have improved the delivery of technologies and capabilities on newer acquisitions through its Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) efforts. However, several NextGen-critical programs remain over budget and behind schedule due to overambitious plans, unresolved requirements, software development problems, ineffective contract management, and unreliable cost and schedule estimates.

We made three recommendations to improve FAA’s management of major acquisitions and better meet the goals of its reforms. FAA concurred with all three recommendations. We requested that FAA provide a target action date for one recommendation and the other two are considered open, pending completion of planned actions.


Closed on
No. 1 to FAA
Identify and implement Agency-wide cost-saving initiatives and develop appropriate timelines and metrics to measure whether the initiatives are successful.
Closed on
No. 2 to FAA
When reporting on major acquisitions, identify the current estimated costs for each acquisition system, including all segments. Separately identify cumulative amounts for acquisition costs, technical refresh, and other enhancements in order to identify the total baselined/rebaselined costs for each system and account for the way funds are being used when reporting to managers, Congress, and other stakeholders.
Closed on
No. 3 to FAA
Review and identify Federal and industry best practices and guidance from OMB and the Federal CIO that may be incorporated into AMS for acquiring major capital investments and IT systems, including the use of successive contracts that are separately priced and the use of modular concepts when planning and purchasing IT, and determine which are appropriate for incorporation into AMS.