FAA Has Not Gone Far Enough With Improvements to Its Planning and Acquisition Processes

PSAD-80-42: Published: Jun 4, 1980. Publicly Released: Jun 16, 1980.

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In 1977, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advised a congressional subcommittee that FAA was well into the process of comprehensively overhauling its acquisition management process. Directives for planning and system acquisition management processes were being implemented and a high-level management panel, the System Requirements Group (SRG), had been established to monitor the acquisition process. These actions were taken to correct deficiencies in the FAA agencywide planning and system acquisition management processes. A GAO review of this process included: (1) an evaluation of the directives developed to support the FAA agencywide planning and the System Acquisition Management (SAM) process; (2) an evaluation of the SRG activities in monitoring major system programs under the acquisition process; and (3) a review of various major programs to determine what impact the revised acquisition process had on their management.

The review showed that while the concepts set forth in the directives were sound and represented an improvement over the previous situation, the agencywide planning directive was not fully implemented and the acquisition directive did not provide sufficient guidance and needed to be revised. It also was found that: (1) The policy, mission analysis, long-range planning, and program performance and evaluation areas had not been implemented. (2) The FAA system acquisition management directive was not always followed and did not conform to either the Department of Transportation's (DOT) acquisition directives or the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Circular A-109. (3) The FAA management concept limited the role of the program manager. (4) The SRG has been ineffective because of its exclusion from such significant functions as planning. (5) The SRG has no written charter identifying responsibilities, authority, and tenure of office. (6) The requirements set forth in the OMB Circular continued to be rejected by DOT and FAA. FAA and DOT internal reports showed that the same deficiencies continued to exist. Without an agencywide comprehensive planning process and a sound system acquisition management process, the validity of the FAA budgetary process can be questioned, including how effectively it uses resources.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator to: implement the FAA agencywide planning directive emphasizing policy, mission analysis, long-range planning, and program performance and evaluation; replace or revise the FAA system acquisition management directive to prescribe a simplified acquisition process, a stronger role for the program manager, and a restructured system acquisition management process to conform to requirements in the Department of Transportation acquisition directives relative to identifying programs and prescribed reporting of them, and to meet the Office of Management and Budget Circular A-109; and improve the management of the acquisition process. This improvement should be implemented by: (1) making the Systems Requirement Group (SRG) a part of the FAA planning process so programs that should come under its review and evaluation are identified early; (2) assuring that SRG program reviews coincide with key decision points of the system acquisition process for selected programs; (3) giving the SRG the authority to approve, delay, or discontinue a program subject to the approval of the Administrator; and (4) providing each member of the SRG with a written charter setting forth the responsibilities, authority, and tenure of office.

    Agency Affected:


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