FAA Information Resources:

Agency Needs to Correct Widespread Deficiencies

IMTEC-91-43: Published: Jun 18, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 24, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) management of its information resources; and (2) whether FAA was acting to implement needed agency-wide corrective measures.

GAO found that: (1) since FAA has not always ensured that agencies effectively and efficiently acquired and managed computers, software, and related information resources, it has experienced problems in developing and acquiring new computer and communications systems and in operating and maintaining existing systems; (2) FAA failed numerous times to adequately define requirements, consider available alternatives, test systems before production, manage computer capacity, or ensure data reliability; (3) the FAA fundamental information resources management (IRM) program was ineffective and failed to minimize problems in acquiring and managing information resources; (4) the FAA IRM program suffered from a lack of top management involvement, an incomplete strategic plan, and inadequate application of accepted IRM practices; (5) the FAA strategic IRM plan inappropriately excluded most of the agency's needs for information resources; (6) FAA managers did not always recognize the importance of following sound IRM practices and had inadequate knowledge, skills, and training to know how to apply them; and (7) in response to an independent review, FAA began to recognize many of its IRM problems and established an IRM Quality Task Force.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Administrator, FAA, should direct the agency's senior IRM official, with the advice of the senior-level executive IRM steering committee, to implement the requirements of applicable laws, regulations, and guidance in acquiring and managing information resources.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation: Federal Aviation Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOT agreed to implement this recommendation. FAA is assessing key processes to identify necessary changes.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, FAA, should direct the agency's senior IRM official, with the advice of the senior-level executive IRM steering committee, to raise the level of knowledge and awareness of IRM in the organization by providing IRM training to program staff.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation: Federal Aviation Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The FAA published "Information Sharing: A Guide for Investing in Human Capital for the 21st Century--Using Information Technology for Increased Technologies," in November 1994. This guide identifies the competencies needed by FAA's executives, mid-level managers, information technology specialists, and customers to help them better manage and use information technology as a resource to meet business requirements. The guide also lists information technology courses that are available. The guide was sent to all FAA divisions in November 1994.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, FAA, should direct the agency's senior IRM official, with the advice of the senior-level executive IRM steering committee, to develop and complete a strategic IRM plan for FAA within the next 12 months that considers the information technology needs of the entire agency.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation: Federal Aviation Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA has completed its strategic IRM plan.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, FAA, should appoint a top executive as the agency's senior IRM official who will spend time solely on information resources activities, and implement a senior-level executive IRM steering committee to guide the agency's efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation: Federal Aviation Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The FAA Administrator appointed a Chief Information Officer (CIO) who is to report directly to the Administrator and have responsibility for all operational and administrative information resources.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should report the lack of a complete strategic IRM plan as a material weakness under the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA). This weakness should remain outstanding until the FAA segment of the Department of Transportation's strategic plan is modified to cover all of the agency's information resources.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Transportation reported this as a material weakness in its December 31, 1991 FMFIA report.

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