Year 2000 Computing Challenge:

FAA Continues to Make Important Strides, But Vulnerabilities Remain

T-AIMD-99-285: Published: Sep 9, 1999. Publicly Released: Sep 9, 1999.

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Joel C. Willemssen
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) efforts to address the year 2000 computing problem, focusing on: (1) FAA's progress to date; (2) challenges FAA faces in ensuring that its internal systems will work; (3) risks associated with external organizations--airports, airlines, and international entities; and (4) the critical need for business continuity and contingency plans that identify how aviation operations will continue should systems fail.

GAO noted that: (1) FAA and its employees have made excellent progress in tackling the monumental year 2000 problem; (2) FAA is now reporting that all of its systems are ready for the year 2000; (3) however, FAA's work is not yet done; (4) FAA continues to face challenges in ensuring that its internal systems will work as intended through the year 2000 date change; (5) these challenges involve managing modifications to compliant systems, independent verification of systems' compliance, and systems testing; (6) FAA must also mitigate risks posed by external organizations, including airports, airlines, and foreign air traffic control systems; (7) these factors could impede FAA's ability to provide reliable aviation services, which could seriously affect the flow of air traffic across the nation and around the world; and (8) in the event that critical internal or external systems do not work as intended, FAA must have a comprehensive and tested business continuity and contingency plan ready to implement, and train its staff in how to do so.