Government Performance and Results Act:

Information on FAA's Science Activities in DOT's Performance Report for Fiscal Year 1999, Performance Plan for FY 2001, and July 2000 Draft Strategic Plan

RCED-00-258R: Published: Aug 18, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 22, 2000.

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John H. Anderson, Jr
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Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) science activities, in the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Performance report, focusing on: (1) how fiscal year (FY) 1999 performance report/FY 2001 performance plan addresses FAA's science activities; (2) the extent to which FAA's science activities in the President's FY 2001 budget request are linked to DOT's FY 2001 performance plan; and (3) the extent to which DOT's FY 2001 performance plan addresses weaknesses regarding FAA's science activities.

GAO noted that: (1) DOT's performance report/plan addresses FAA's science activities by including information on these activities as explicit goals and as strategies for achieving other goals; (2) however, not all of FAA's science activities are explicitly included as goals or strategies in the document, and as a result, readers may have difficulty identifying these activities; (3) since 1999, DOT's performance plans have contained a goal related to another one of FAA's science activities--developing aviation security technology--to improve the detection rate for explosives and weapons that may be carried through metal detectors and concealed in carry-on baggage; (4) DOT plans to reduce the rate of fatal aviation accidents for commercial air carriers through, among other things: (a) FAA's research program on aviation medicine, which works to enhance cabin safety; and (b) FAA's research on safety technology, which supports its regulatory program by studying such areas as fire detection equipment and the prevention of engine failures; (5) DOT's FY 2001 performance plan links FAA's science activities--and other DOT activities--in its FY 2001 budget request to the five strategic goals contained in DOT's 1997 strategic plan; (6) for FAA's science activities, DOT's FY 2001 performance plan addresses weaknesses that GAO observed in previous annual plans; (7) DOT's performance plans for FY 1999 and 2000 did not consistently explain coordination strategies with outside organizations and include annual performance goals and measures for addressing the management challenges facing the Department; (8) the FY 2001 performance plan, however explains coordination strategies for annual performance goals related to FAA's science activities; (9) for example, to improve access to airports in all types of weather, DOT's performance goal is to increase the number of published global positioning system (GPS) airport approaches; (10) the performance plan explains that the basic enabling technology for precision approaches is the GPS satellite navigation system developed and maintained by Department of Defense, the map information will be obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Office of National Geodetic Survey will survey airports to obtain information for locating airport runways and obstacles near the flight paths for approaching them; and (11) in addition, the performance plan addresses the management challenges that are relevant to FAA's science activities--air traffic control modernization and aviation safety and security--by including FY 2001 performance goals for each issue.

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