Federal Aviation Administration's System for Prioritizing Airport Grants

RCED-84-124: Published: Apr 13, 1984. Publicly Released: Apr 13, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) system for prioritizing discretionary airport grant projects. GAO analyzed airport planning and development projects in four FAA regions to determine: (1) whether FAA funded the projects in conformance with its priority system; and (2) the basis for funding projects that ranked low under the system. GAO also reviewed the airports named in 1982 and 1983 congressional appropriation reports to determine whether naming airports for priority consideration caused FAA to fund low-priority projects.

GAO found that the FAA priority system conforms to statutory guidance on airport planning and development priorities, in that the highest priority is given to safety-related projects and priority is given to commercial service and reliever airports. An analysis of 519 projects in the four FAA regions disclosed that FAA discretionary grants generally went to high-priority projects. However, in some instances, FAA awarded discretionary grants to low priority projects outside the funding criteria without written justification as required by the system guidelines. The projects that did not conform to the priority system represented only about 3 percent of the total discretionary funds obligated in the period reviewed. GAO also found that the congressional naming of airports for priority consideration in appropriation reports did not result in low-priority projects' being funded.