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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Safety Performance Analysis System (SPAS), focusing on: (1) whether FAA is effectively managing the SPAS acquisition; (2) the extent to which SPAS will rely on Aviation Safety Analysis System (ASAS) databases; and (3) whether FAA is effectively addressing known data quality problems with the ASAS databases.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Federal Aviation Administration 1. The Administrator, FAA, should direct the Associate Administrator for Regulation and Certification to ensure that SPAS software costs are estimated using systematic and rigorous estimating techniques and methods.
Closed - Implemented
Department of Transportation (DOT) concurred with the recommendation. In January 1996, FAA used a cost estimating tool called CHECKPOINT to develop a SPAS I cost estimate of $6.4 million. This tool is also being used to develop a SPAS II cost estimate. The SPAS II cost estimate is to be finalized by the end of August 1996.
Federal Aviation Administration 2. The Administrator, FAA, should direct the Associate Administrator for Regulation and Certification to require the Office of Flight Standards to develop and implement a comprehensive and coordinated strategy, specifying how the quality of all data residing on SPAS source data systems will be brought up to the minimum level needed for SPAS to meet operational requirements. At a minimum, this strategy must include: (1) clear and measurable data quality objectives for each SPAS source data system that recognize the sensitivity of various SPAS analyses to the respective source data inputs; (2) accurate assessments of the current quality of the data on each SPAS source data system; (3) clear statements of organizational responsibility and authority for improving the source systems' data quality; (4) both interim and long-term milestones for attaining stated quality objectives that tie closely to SPAS development schedules; and (5) estimates of resource requirements to meet stated objectives and agency commitments to providing these resources.
Closed - Implemented
FAA concurred with the recommendation and issued the Comprehensive Data Quality Plan for the Flight Standards Service in October 1996. The plan satisfies the last three of the five specifications provided in GAO's recommendation. FAA is now implementing the plan. To address specifications 1 and 2 of GAO's recommendation, FAA is developing a process for defining and developing SPAS performance measures that will include a review of specific data elements.

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