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.
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
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