FAA Staffing:

FAA's Definition of Its Controller Work Force Should Be Revised

RCED-88-14: Published: Oct 23, 1987. Publicly Released: Oct 23, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO identified problems with the way the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines its air traffic controller work force.

GAO found that: (1) the FAA definition includes air traffic assistants and controller trainees, who do not control air traffic, and excludes supervisors and traffic managers, who do control traffic; (2) if FAA had defined its controller work force more accurately, its work force would have totalled 14,400 at the end of fiscal year 1986, rather than 14,800; (3) FAA staffing in supervisory and traffic management positions is well below authorized levels; and (4) FAA no longer reports the number of developmental controllers separately from the number of fully qualified controllers, as it did before the 1981 controllers' strike.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Secretary of Transportation informed Congress that the Department of Transportation (DOT) agreed and would use the new definition.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should require the Administrator, FAA, to revise the definition of the controller work force to include only those who are responsible for separating and controlling air traffic, including first-line supervisors and traffic management coordinators. The revised definition should be used in reporting the controller work force count to Congress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Secretary of Transportation informed Congress that DOT agreed with this recommendation and would use the new definition.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should require the Administrator, FAA, to include in the FAA fiscal year budget justifications and other reports to Congress staffing targets for full-performance-level controllers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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