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Feels like Groundhog Day: Another Inspector General Report Critical of FAA Management

Washington, D.C., September 18, 2017 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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Ever get that feeling of déjà vu? In what seems like an endless stream of reports critical of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) management oversight, the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General has released its newest independent analysis, casting doubt on the agency’s ability to identify and track hundreds of its contracts.

“Another day, another report detailing another reason why the FAA simply is not set up to succeed in managing our country’s long-delayed and increasingly costly transition to a modern aviation system. Time and again, independent government auditors and investigators have raised alarms over FAA’s failure to efficiently implement programs like NextGen or oversee how taxpayer money is spent,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA).  “Enough is enough. It’s time to fundamentally change the way FAA operates.”

“Congress has a real opportunity to truly reform the way FAA operates with the 21st Century AIRR Act,” Shuster added.  “It’s time to take the FAA out of the technology business and let it focus squarely on regulating the safety of aircraft and the airspace.”

Brief summary of the self-initiated IG report:

  • Congress gave FAA the authority to enter into Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs), a more flexible procurement tool, in 1996.
  • FAA has not effectively used this reform and procurement flexibility, and weak management puts federal funds and programs at risk.
  • FAA has $1.4 billion in OTAs that is subject to questionable oversight.
  • FAA uses OTAs extensively but has no comprehensive record or the policies and procedures needed to adequately track these agreements.
  • When pressed by the IG, the FAA could only identify 120 OTAs. The DOT IG ultimately found 694.
  • Half of FAA’s OTAs lacked authorization from the proper official.
  • DOT IG found $2.2 million in wasteful spending.

    The newest DOT IG report (available here) joins a long list of past reports critical of FAA management and its implementation of the NextGen program.  Some additional examples are below.  It’s important to note that the federal government’s difficulties with ATC modernization predate NextGen, extending back to the early 1980s.

  • Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, DOT and FAA Lack Adequate Controls Over Their Use and Management of Other Transaction Agreements, ZA-2017-098, September 14, 2017
  • Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, Greater Adherence to ADS-B Contract Terms May Generate Better Performance and Cost Savings for FAA, AV-2017-075, September 7, 2017
  • Letter from Calvin Scovel, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, to Bill Shuster, Chairman, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Chairman Frank L. LoBiondo, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation Regarding FAA’s July 2016 NextGen Business Case, August 15, 2017
  • Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, Although FAA Has Taken Steps To Improve Its Operational Contingency Plans, Significant Work Remains To Mitigate the Effects of Major System Disruptions, AV-2017-020, January 11, 2017
  • Statement of Calvin Scovel, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, The Need to Reform FAA and Air Traffic Control to Build a 21st Century Aviation System for America, May 17, 2017
  • Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, Total Costs, Schedules, and Benefits of FAA’s NextGen Transformational Programs Remain Uncertain, Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General, p. 17, AV-2017-009 November 10, 2016
  • Letter from Calvin Scovel, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, to Bill Shuster, Chairman, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Responding to Questions About the Cost and Schedule of FAA’s NextGen, CC-2016-013, September 30, 2016
  • Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, FAA Reforms Have Not Achieved Expected Cost, Efficiency, and Modernization Outcomes, AV-2016-015, p. 12 January 15, 2016
  • National Research Council, A Review of the Next Generation Air Transportation System: Implications and Importance of System Architecture, The National Academies Press, 2015
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office, Aviation Finance: Observations on the Effects of Budget Uncertainty on FAA, GAO-16-198R, November 19, 2015
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office, Next Generation Air Transportation System: Improved Risk Analysis Could Strengthen FAA’s Global Interoperability Efforts, GAO-15-608, July 29, 2015
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office, Air Traffic Control System: Selected Stakeholders’ Perspectives on Operations, Modernization, and Structure, GAO-14-770, September 2014
  • Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, FAA’s Implementation of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 Remains Incomplete, CC-2014-010, February 5, 2014
  • Statement of Calvin Scovel, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, before the House Aviation Subcommittee, The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012: Two Years Later, February 5, 2014
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office, FAA Reauthorization Act: Progress and Challenges Implementing Various Provisions of the 2012 Act, GAO-14-285T, February 5, 2014
  • Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, FAA Made Limited Progress in Implementing NextGen Provisions of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, AV-2014-027, January 28, 2014
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office, National Airspace System: Improved Budgeting Could Help FAA Better Determine Future Operations and Maintenance Priorities, GAO-13-693, August 22, 2013
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office, NextGen Air Transportation System: FAA Has Made Some Progress in Midterm Implementation, but Ongoing Challenges Limit Expected Benefits, GAO-13-264, April 8, 2013.
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office, Next Generation Air Transportation System: FAA Faces Implementation Challenges, GAO-12-1011T, September 12, 2012
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office, Air Traffic Control Modernization: Management Challenges Associated with Program Costs and Schedules Could Hinder NextGen Implementation, GAO-12-223, February 2012
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office, Next Generation Air Transportation: Collaborative Efforts with European Union Generally Mirror Effective Practices, but Near-Term Challenges Could Delay Implementation, GAO-12-48, November 3, 2011
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office, Next Generation Air Transportation System: FAA Has Made Some Progress in Implementation, but Delays Threaten to Impact Costs and Benefits, GAO-12-141T,  October 5, 2011
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office, Nextgen Air Transportation System: Mechanisms for Collaboration and Technology Transfer Could Be Enhanced to More Fully Leverage Partner Agency and Industry Resources, GAO-11-604, June 30, 2011
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office, Next Generation Air Transportation System: FAA’s Metrics Can Be Used to Report on Status of Individual Programs, But Not of Overall NextGen Implementation or Outcomes, GAO-10-629, July 27, 2010

     

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    Tags: Aviation