FAA Budget:

Issues Related to the Fiscal Year 1996 Request

T-RCED/AIMD-95-131: Published: Mar 13, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 1995.

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GAO discussed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) fiscal year (FY) 1996 budget request, focusing on the: (1) facilities and equipment account, which funds air traffic control modernization; (2) airport improvement account, which funds airport improvement projects; and (3) operations account, which supports daily FAA operations and safety oversight functions. GAO noted that: (1) the Administration is requesting $8.4 billion for FAA programs in FY 1996, which represents a 1-percent increase over the appropriation for FY 1995; (2) FAA estimates the Airport and Airway Trust Fund will receive about $6.8 billion in revenue during FY 1996; (3) FAA has taken several initiatives to strengthen controls over the Advanced Automation Program, for which the agency has requested $419 million in FY 1996, but it is accepting substantial risk by planning to spend about three-fourths of total program costs before completing operational testing; (4) FAA has requested 261 additional aircraft certification and inspection staff, but its technical competence in certification lags behind its industry counterparts, particularly in advanced technologies, and FAA has no plan to rectify the situation; (5) an inspection resource targeting system now under development will not be deployed until 1997 and may be based on flawed data; and (6) FAA has made progress responding to GAO recommendations for strengthening its management and providing for more cost-effective use of Airport Improvement Program funds, but its request for an increase in staff may be premature.