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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) air traffic control (ATC) modernization software acquisition efforts, focusing on the: (1) maturity of FAA's ATC modernization software acquisition processes; and (2) steps/actions FAA has underway or planned to improve these processes, including any obstacles that may impede FAA's progress.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation 1. To improve FAA's software acquisition capability for its ATC modernization and thereby take the first step in institutionalizing mature acquisition processes, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to assign responsibility for software acquisition process improvement to FAA's Chief Information Officer (CIO).
Closed - Implemented
FAA recently hired a CIO who reports directly to the Administrator. FAA's new CIO has taken responsibility for the agency's software acquisition process improvement program.
Department of Transportation 2. To improve FAA's software acquisition capability for its ATC modernization and thereby take the first step in institutionalizing mature acquisition processes, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to provide FAA's CIO the authority needed to implement and enforce ATC modernization software acquisition process improvement.
Closed - Implemented
FAA issued an order providing the CIO the authority for software acquisition process improvement.
Department of Transportation 3. To improve FAA's software acquisition capability for its ATC modernization and thereby take the first step in institutionalizing mature acquisition processes, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to require the CIO to develop and implement a comprehensive plan for ATC modernization software acquisition process improvement that is based on the software capability evaluation results contained in this report and specifies measurable goals and time frames, prioritizes initiatives, estimates resource requirements, and assigns roles and responsibilities.
Closed - Implemented
FAA has a comprehensive plan for ATC modernization software acquisition process improvement based on a FAA-developed capability maturity model that specifies measurable goals and timeframes for 11 ATC modernization projects, prioritizes initiatives, estimates resource requirements, and assigns roles and responsibilities.
Department of Transportation 4. To improve FAA's software acquisition capability for its ATC modernization and thereby take the first step in institutionalizing mature acquisition processes, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to allocate adequate resources to ensure that these improvement efforts are implemented and enforced.
Closed - Implemented
Since fiscal year 1998, FAA has funded its software acquisition improvement effort with both individual project funds and CIO funding. The CIO has reduced its share of improvement funding in each of those years, due in part, to individual projects' funding increases for acquisition process improvements. FAA's CIO Office believes that adequate resources have been allocated to ensure sufficient software acquisition efforts are implemented.
Department of Transportation 5. To improve FAA's software acquisition capability for its ATC modernization and thereby take the first step in institutionalizing mature acquisition processes, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to require that, before being approved, every ATC modernization acquisition project have software acquisition processes that satisfy at least Software Acquisition Capability Maturity Model level 2 requirements.
Closed - Implemented
FAA partially concurred with this recommendation. FAA program offices continue to make improvements in their acquisition processes. Thirteen FAA directorates have committed to achieving level 2 capabilities for a portion of their systems. Also, several program offices have undergone Integrated Maturity Capability Model audits to certify their level of acquisition capability. However, FAA does not require all systems to achieve level 2 capability, and an FAA software process improvement official stated that the agency would not require all of its systems to achieve level 2 capabilities.

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