Air Traffic Control:

Smaller Terminal Systems' Capacity Requirements Need to Be Defined

IMTEC-90-50: Published: Jun 25, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 25, 1990.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Jayetta Hecker
(202) 512-8984
contact@gao.gov

 

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

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) automated safety enhancements for air traffic controllers at smaller terminal radar approach control facilities (TRACON), focusing on: (1) the extent of and reasons for delays in developing, testing, and deploying the Automated Radar Terminal System (ARTS IIA) hardware and software; and (2) whether FAA adequately identified current and future computer capacity requirements for smaller TRACON.

GAO found that FAA did not: (1) properly manage the installation of safety enhancements at smaller TRACON, which caused a 3-year delay in ARTS IIA implementation; (2) require the ARTS IIA production contractor to perform integrated tests to determine whether various portions of the system worked together; (3) have a computer capacity and performance management program for smaller TRACON; and (4) understand current computer utilization or future computer capacity requirements for smaller TRACON. GAO also found that FAA: (1) awarded the production contract before completing system development and continued to change the system requirements after it awarded the contract; (2) had not established a capacity management program because smaller TRACON had not encountered capacity shortfalls; and (3) was uncertain whether ARTS IIA would meet the needs of smaller TRACON.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department stated that FAA is ensuring that production contracts are not awarded until development is complete and that a prototype system has successfully passed an operational test. This is part of a larger program to improve the acquisition process following Office of Management and Budget Circular A-109, Major System Acquisitions, guidelines.

    Recommendation: Experience gained in implementing the ARTS IIA project can be used to prevent similar problems from occurring on future projects. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to improve management of future TRACON automation projects by awarding production contracts only after development is complete, controlling changes to operational software during system development and production, and requiring contractors to perform integrated testing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department agreed with the recommendation and FAA directed a contractor to develop a computer capacity and system performance monitoring program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to implement a computer capacity and performance management program for ARTS IIA systems. This program should include an analysis of current system performance and future work loads, including predicted traffic levels and additional software functions to determine system requirements, as well as the potential performance of the enhanced system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its December 1991 Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act report to the Secretary of Transportation, the Department reported the lack of a capacity and performance management program as a material weakness.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to report the lack of a computer capacity and performance management program as a material control weakness under the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act until a program has been implemented.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department agreed to establish computer system capacity requirements before exercising the ARTS IIA Interim Support Plan contract option for Mode C Intruder.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to delay exercising the expansion contract option to procure additional computers until a computer capacity and performance management program is implemented and future capacity requirements are adequately defined.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 14, 2016

Sep 2, 2016

Aug 8, 2016

Jul 28, 2016

Jul 13, 2016

Jul 7, 2016

Jun 24, 2016

Jun 21, 2016

May 26, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here