FAA Computer Systems:

Limited Progress on Year 2000 Issue Increases Risk Dramatically

AIMD-98-45: Published: Jan 30, 1998. Publicly Released: Feb 5, 1998.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Joel C. Willemssen
(202) 512-6253
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the effectiveness of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) year 2000 program, including the reliability of its year 2000 cost estimate.

GAO noted that: (1) FAA's progress in making its systems ready for the year 2000 has been too slow; (2) at its current pace, it will not make it in time; (3) the agency has been severely behind schedule in completing basic awareness activities, a critical first phase in an effective year 2000 program; (4) for example, FAA appointed its initial program manager with responsibility for the year 2000 only 6 months ago, and its overall year 2000 strategy is not yet final; (5) FAA also does not know the extent of its year 2000 problem because it has not completed most key assessment phase activities, the second critical phase in an effective year 2000 program; (6) it has yet to analyze the impact of systems' not being year 2000 date compliant, inventory and assess all of its systems for date dependencies, develop plans for addressing identified date dependencies, or develop plans for continuing operations in case systems are not corrected in time; (7) FAA currently estimates it will complete its assessment activities by the end of January 1998; (8) until these activities are completed, FAA cannot know the extent to which it can trust its systems to operate safely after 1999; (9) the potential serious consequences include degraded safety, grounded or delayed flights, increased airline costs, and customer inconvenience; (10) delays in completing awareness and assessment activities also leave FAA little time for critical renovation, validation, and implementation activities--the final three phases in an effective year 2000 program; (11) with 2 years left, FAA is quickly running out of time, making contingency planning for continuity of operations even more critical; (12) FAA's inventory and assessment actions will define the scope and magnitude of its year 2000 problem; since they are incomplete, FAA lacks the information it needs to develop reliable year 2000 cost estimates; and (13) FAA's year 2000 project manager currently estimates that the entire program will cost $246 million based on early estimates from managers throughout the agency.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA issued its enterprise-wide business continuity and contingency plan on April 15, 1999.

    Recommendation: Urgent action is imperative to improve the management effectiveness of FAA's year 2000 program and thus the likelihood of its success. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct that the Administrator, FAA, take the actions necessary to expedite the completion of overdue awareness and assessment activities. At a minimum, the Administrator should craft year 2000 contingency plans for all business lines to ensure continuity of critical operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA agreed with the recommendation and requires test plans for mission-critical systems being repaired.

    Recommendation: Urgent action is imperative to improve the management effectiveness of FAA's year 2000 program and thus the likelihood of its success. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct that the Administrator, FAA, take the actions necessary to expedite the completion of overdue awareness and assessment activities. At a minimum, the Administrator should develop validation and test plans for all converted or replaced systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA established plans for addressing date dependencies in its mission-critical systems and data exchanges.

    Recommendation: Urgent action is imperative to improve the management effectiveness of FAA's year 2000 program and thus the likelihood of its success. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct that the Administrator, FAA, take the actions necessary to expedite the completion of overdue awareness and assessment activities. At a minimum, the Administrator should establish plans for addressing identified date dependencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA agreed with the recommendation and has determined priorities for system conversion. Mission-critical systems are divided into three tiers; those that affect safety, those that affect the capacity of the National Airspace System, and those that impact efficiency throughout the agency.

    Recommendation: Urgent action is imperative to improve the management effectiveness of FAA's year 2000 program and thus the likelihood of its success. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct that the Administrator, FAA, take the actions necessary to expedite the completion of overdue awareness and assessment activities. At a minimum, the Administrator should determine priorities for system conversion and replacement based on systems' mission-criticality.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA has completed assessing its inventory of systems and data interfaces.

    Recommendation: Urgent action is imperative to improve the management effectiveness of FAA's year 2000 program and thus the likelihood of its success. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct that the Administrator, FAA, take the actions necessary to expedite the completion of overdue awareness and assessment activities. At a minimum, the Administrator should, by January 30, 1998, finish assessments of all systems in FAA's inventory to determine each one's criticality and to decide whether each system should be converted, replaced, or retired.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA completed its inventory of systems and data interfaces.

    Recommendation: Urgent action is imperative to improve the management effectiveness of FAA's year 2000 program and thus the likelihood of its success. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct that the Administrator, FAA, take the actions necessary to expedite the completion of overdue awareness and assessment activities. At a minimum, the Administrator should, by January 30, 1998, complete inventories of all information systems and their components, including data interfaces.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA issued an enterprise-wide contingency plan which identifies the potential impact of key system failures.

    Recommendation: Urgent action is imperative to improve the management effectiveness of FAA's year 2000 program and thus the likelihood of its success. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct that the Administrator, FAA, take the actions necessary to expedite the completion of overdue awareness and assessment activities. At a minimum, the Administrator should assess how its major business lines and the aviation industry would be affected if the year 2000 problem were not corrected in time, and use the results of this assessment to help rank the agency's year 2000 activities, as well as a means of obtaining and publicizing management commitment and support for necessary year 2000 initiatives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The administrator issued an agencywide year 2000 plan on March 9, 1998. This document outlines FAA's year 2000 strategy and provides the year 2000 program manager the authority to enforce year 2000 policies.

    Recommendation: Urgent action is imperative to improve the management effectiveness of FAA's year 2000 program and thus the likelihood of its success. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct that the Administrator, FAA, take the actions necessary to expedite the completion of overdue awareness and assessment activities. At a minimum, the Administrator should finalize an agencywide plan which provides the year 2000 program manager the authority to enforce year 2000 policies and outlines FAA's strategy for addressing year 2000 date change.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA agreed with this recommendation, and has repeatedly refined its cost estimates as new and better cost information became available. Most recently, in April 1999, the Department of Transportation reported revised FAA Year 2000 cost estimates.

    Recommendation: Urgent action is imperative to improve the management effectiveness of FAA's year 2000 program and thus the likelihood of its success. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct that the Administrator, FAA, take the actions necessary to expedite the completion of overdue awareness and assessment activities. At a minimum, the Administrator should make a reliable cost estimate based on a comprehensive inventory and completed assessments of the various systems' criticality and handling needs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Dec 10, 2014

Sep 25, 2014

Sep 23, 2014

Jun 10, 2014

May 22, 2014

May 12, 2014

May 8, 2014

Looking for more? Browse all our products here