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Highlights

The nation's current air traffic control system is reaching its capacity limits as demand for air transportation grows. The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) represents a new system that will use state-of-the-art technologies and procedures. Transitioning to NextGen will require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue to sustain the current air traffic control system while acquiring new systems on schedule and on budget. In 2003, Congress authorized the creation of the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), housed within FAA, to plan NextGen and coordinate the transition. GAO's testimony focuses on the progress FAA is making in implementing businesslike operations that could provide a foundation for managing the transition to NextGen, the status of JPDO's planning and facilitation of NextGen, and some key challenges that FAA and JPDO need to address in moving toward NextGen. This statement is based on GAO's November 2006 report and recent testimonies as well as ongoing work. GAO's November report recommended that FAA study its technical and contract management expertise and that JPDO take actions to institutionalize its collaborative practices. FAA and JPDO said they would consider our recommendations.

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