Air Traffic System:

Pilot Program To Contract Out Maintenance at Selected Facilities

RCED-87-104BR: Published: Apr 17, 1987. Publicly Released: Apr 17, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) proposed test program to contract for maintenance at selected air traffic control facilities to: (1) provide information on test design and status; (2) evaluate the test's potential for air traffic safety and efficiency; (3) determine if the program would adequately test contractor performance; and (4) assess FAA ability to estimate and control test costs.

GAO found that: (1) the test would last 5 years, would cost $130 million, and would involve three of the nine FAA regions; (2) FAA would provide guidance and orientation during a projected 9-month transition from FAA to contractor personnel; (3) FAA suspended its planning, since Congress denied its 1987 budget request for initial funding for the test, but would complete planning if 1988 funding were granted; (4) although FAA designed the test program to maintain current safety and efficiency levels, the program might accelerate attrition in its maintenance work force; (5) FAA would use the first 2 to 3 years to test contractors' abilities to perform maintenance functions independently; (6) FAA designed the test to allow contractors use of FAA training materials and support throughout the test; (7) since FAA has not completed an up-to-date cost estimate, it would develop a better projection if planning were resumed; (8) FAA intends to be a silent bidder to preclude the possibility of potential contractors' underbidding or low buy-in; and (9) FAA intends to require full contractor liability for equipment and aircraft-related accidents.