October 18, 2017
Requested by the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and its Aviation Subcommittee
FAA Has Made Progress Implementing NextGen Priorities, but Additional Actions Are Needed To Improve Risk Management
What We Looked At
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) aims to modernize the Nation’s air traffic system and provide safer and more efficient air traffic management by 2025. In 2013, the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) recommended the aviation industry’s four priorities for NextGen investment—Multiple Runway Operations, Performance-based Navigation, Surface Operations, and Data Communications (DataComm). At the request of Congress, in November 2014, we identified the steps the Agency was taking to address NAC’s priorities and made three recommendations; to date, FAA has completed actions on two of them. In this follow-up audit, we assessed FAA’s (1) process for identifying risks to implementing the four prioritized NextGen capabilities and (2) actions to mitigate any identified risks. We also assessed the Agency’s progress in implementing the four capabilities in the context of the identified risks.
What We Found
FAA is making significant progress in implementing the four NAC priorities. However, the Agency lacks a comprehensive process for effectively identifying or assessing risks, which could hinder its ability to fully implement its priorities. For example, while FAA took some steps to identify risks, it did not fully engage or include all stakeholders or effectively evaluate the severity of the identified risks to ensure its implementation milestones were realistic. In addition, FAA is not proactively mitigating risks to keep the NAC priorities on track. In particular, FAA and industry will need to mitigate several complex risks for capabilities expected for implementation and benefits delivery in the 2019–2020 timeframe, such as resolving issues with DataComm technology installed in aircraft. However, the Agency has not developed a detailed mitigation plan to address identified risks, involved industry in its decision-making process, or transparently reported its progress in this area.
We will not make any new recommendations until FAA has completed actions on the remaining open recommendation from our November 2014 report.