FAA Staffing:

Challenges in Managing Shortages in the Maintenance Work Force

RCED-87-137: Published: Sep 25, 1987. Publicly Released: Oct 13, 1987.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the adequacy of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) maintenance staffing, focusing on the impact of the: (1) current staffing situation on the air traffic system; and (2) projected attrition of maintenance personnel on staffing requirements.

GAO found that: (1) FAA hiring restrictions, staffing priorities, and failure to receive budget approval for additional staffing caused critical technician vacancies; (2) staffing shortages seriously impaired air traffic maintenance services; (3) increased work loads affected staff morale; (4) the outlook for technician staffing was not good, due to the large number of prospective retirements and the long training period for replacements; and (5) the performance data used for management analysis did not accurately reflect current conditions in the field.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA developed a 5-year hiring plan to identify staffing requirements due to attrition. The plan was completed as of December 1988. It is premature to assess the results of this effort.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to consider the options discussed above, such as rehiring retirees and redistributing the work force, to deal with situations where field staffing is already critical.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The fiscal year 1990 budget included FTE requirements based on study results and a 5-year plan.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should submit these targets and a funding plan to support hiring to these levels to the appropriate congressional committees.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The plan was completed as of December 1988.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should establish staffing targets for field maintenance at a level approaching authorized positions to provide a technician pipeline to replace anticipated attrition over the next 5 years.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On-site reviews were completed and the information was fed to the staffing standard system and used in the development of a 5-year plan.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to improve the airway facilities staffing standard validation process by: (1) requiring the field to review and verify facility inventories; (2) linking staffing projections to facility-specific data available through the systems engineering and integration contractor database; and (3) estimating pipeline staffing needs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA developed a standardized maintenance management system which will allow the agency to evaluate the level of maintenance at all facilities. Technicians will be responsible for prioritizing maintenance needs. It is premature to assess the results of this effort.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to standardize the preventive maintenance reporting system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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