Issues Related to FAA's Modernization of the Air Traffic Control System

T-RCED-90-32: Published: Feb 27, 1990. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 1990.

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GAO discussed the status of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) National Airspace System Plan. GAO noted that: (1) 12 projects that the Department of Transportation considered crucial to the plan's success were experiencing major implementation delays; (2) FAA was not following established guidelines for reviewing each acquisition phase to reduce cost overruns, schedule delays, performance problems, and premature production; (3) FAA did not have an independent test group to ensure unbiased system evaluation and testing; (4) because project delays and new requirements have expanded the plan's original scope, modernization costs will total an estimated $27 billion, more than double the initial FAA projection; (5) in November 1988, FAA revised the plan to include new requirements, but still needed to set project priorities; (6) FAA needed to determine how to finance higher modernization costs and how increasing financial reliance on the modernization trust fund will affect user fees and modernization activities; (7) expanded FAA use of support contractors may affect the role of the prime contractor in integrating modernization projects; (8) inadequate regional management information systems and a lack of well-defined requirements and time frames were causing major field implementation problems; and (9) FAA was experiencing difficulties with integrating new technology into hazardous weather detection operations.