FAA Can Strengthen Its Oversight of the AIP Acquired Noise Compatibility Land Program
What We Looked At
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) provides grants to airport sponsors for land acquisition. Airport sponsors that choose to reduce the impact of airport noise on nearby communities may acquire land, known as noise land, with these grants. Given FAA’s large investment in these acquisitions and ongoing concerns over aviation noise, we initiated this audit. Our audit objectives were to assess FAA’s (1) oversight of land that airport sponsors acquire with AIP grants for noise compatibility, (2) processes for determining whether airport sponsors identify land they no longer need for noise compatibility, and (3) oversight of airport sponsors’ disposal of noise land.
What We Found
FAA did not always comply with Federal standards for internal control which direct agencies to design measures to support accurate and timely recording of transactions. FAA’s record on grants awarded for noise compatibility between 2005 and 2020 was incomplete and grants for noise land valued at approximately $32 million were erroneously omitted. FAA also did not follow policy when it reimbursed two of five sample airports’ noise land purchases, totaling approximately $2.1 million, prior to receipt of evidence of the sponsors’ good land title. Furthermore, FAA’s processes for monitoring noise land status are insufficient and processes for overseeing sponsors’ disposal of noise land are inadequate. FAA policy requires sponsors to promptly dispose of noise land they no longer need but does not establish a time standard for FAA follow-up on disposal status. Two sample airports retained noise land parcels for over 10 years and 15 years, without FAA-approved plans for final disposition.
We are making nine recommendations to help FAA strengthen its oversight of AIP grants for noise compatibility and sponsors’ disposal of noise land. FAA concurred with recommendations 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. FAA partially concurred with recommendations 2 and 4. We consider recommendations 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 resolved but open pending completion of planned actions. We consider recommendation 4 open and unresolved and request that FAA reconsider its position.