Washington, DC - Chairman Bill Shuster released the following statement in response to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the FAA's implementation of the NextGen program:
“I am disappointed it took GAO four years to prepare a report that fails to provide an independent assessment the FAA’s implementation of NextGen. Instead of the in-depth analysis and fact checking we expect from an independent auditor, GAO’s report simply repeats the FAA’s overly optimistic and unrealistic assessment of NextGen deployment. The report ignores the many systemic problems with the FAA’s delivery of new technologies, such as overambitious plans, unreliable cost and schedule estimates, unstable requirements, software development problems, poorly defined benefits, and ineffective contract and program management.
“We held five hearings on NextGen over the four years it took to write this report. Time and again, experts and analysts painted a much different picture of NextGen progress. This GAO report just repackages FAA’s empty promises.
“On the other hand, the Department of Transportation Inspector General just released two actual independent analyses of NextGen focused the FAA’s business case and the agency’s management of a critical NextGen contract. The IG’s findings are in direct opposition to the GAO’s – that the FAA’s view of NextGen is simply not based on reality, and the FAA doesn’t even know if it’s getting what it’s paying for.
“ATC reform opponents have been trying to paint the picture that NextGen is finally back on track and on budget, but even the GAO’s report contradicts this misleading notion by stating: ‘Assessing prior NextGen cost estimates against current estimates is difficult because the NextGen program has changed since 2007. As previously discussed, six NextGen activities were removed for reasons such as costs outweighing benefits or insufficient air traffic to justify implementation. Other programs, such as PBN, were added to the NextGen program after 2007. As a result, FAA officials stated that it is somewhat coincidental that the 2016 estimate is within the range of the 2007 estimate.’
“If there are two things to take away from the GAO report, it is that uncertain funding and lack of leadership are two challenges that continue to plague the FAA and NextGen. The 21st Century AIRR Act is the only legislation that actually addresses these and other challenges head-on, instead of dusting off failed FAA reforms of the past. By removing air traffic control services, procurement and technology development from the government, the 21st Century AIRR Act ends decades of bureaucratic waste and mismanagement, and frees modernization of this important technology service from the endless uncertainties of the federal budget process.”