The FAA Process of Selecting Locations for Automated Flight Service Stations

RCED-84-95: Published: Mar 2, 1984. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) selection process for leased automated flight service stations (AFSS's).

GAO found that the guidance provided to FAA regional offices for evaluating community proposals and costs for AFSS facilities did not contain specific instructions on how to evaluate facility communication costs which generally make up about 50 to 80 percent of the total long-term cost estimate for a site. As a result, regional office inconsistencies in dealing with communication costs influenced the selections of communities and resulted in higher costs. After this matter was brought to the attention of FAA, it took action to standardize the criteria. Despite predicted reductions in AFSS staff levels, FAA regional representatives were telling communities that each of the new stations would employ about 80 to 100 people. After notification, FAA has amended such information. GAO noted other variances among FAA regions in the way they evaluate proposals and calculated long-term costs which indicated that more specific guidance was needed. As a result, FAA may have limited competition in some areas.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The agency has developed and promulgated uniform guidelines for evaluating communications costs and personnel relocation costs. However, FAA considers its existing guidance to it regions to be adequate for evaluating maintenance costs, utilities and janitorial costs, and the use of discount and deflation factors to be adequate. FAA plans no further action.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to develop and issue to its regions standardized and consistent guidance for evaluating all cost elements in community proposals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: FAA believes that locations on airports fosters face-to-face briefings and developes familiarization which improves cooperation, safety and understanding. FAA believes that adequate competition now exists, but concedes that longer leases might lead to additional competition but not necessarily to more favorable leases, based on $1-a-year rents in 18 out of 37 awards.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to encourage additional competition by removing restrictions that require AFSS's to be located on airports and limit the lease terms to 1-year periods.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation


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