Air Traffic Control:

Voice Communications System Challenges Continue

IMTEC-91-49: Published: Aug 5, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) revised acquisition strategy for its Voice Switching and Control System (VSCS).

GAO found that: (1) after 5 years of development, VSCS contractors have been unable to successfully produce a prototype system that meets FAA requirements; (2) due to the problems in acquiring an acceptable prototype, the total estimated cost to design, develop, produce, and install VSCS tripled from $258 million to over $786 million between fiscal year (FY) 1982 and FY 1989; (3) contractors' difficulties have delayed VSCS implementation at the first operational site from FY 1986 to FY 1994; (4) the revised acquisition strategy's goal is to complete acceptance and controller operational testing at the contractors' facilities and to avoid delays in Advanced Automation System workstation implementation; (5) FAA exploration of alternative interim voice communications systems will impose additional initial costs on the government, but provide FAA with additional communications options; and (6) although FAA improved its VSCS acquisition strategy, some VSCS requirements remain difficult to attain.

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