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Highlights

The Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), an interagency organization within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), was created to plan and coordinate research and development for the next generation air transportation system (NextGen). Transitioning to NextGen will require FAA to continue to acquire new air traffic control (ATC) systems on schedule and on budget. GAO's concerns about the size, complexity, and cost of FAA's acquisition of ATC systems led GAO to designate this issue as high-risk in 1995. NextGen includes system acquisitions but is a significantly larger initiative involving multiple federal agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which conducts aeronautics research and development for NextGen, and nonfederal aviation stakeholders, such as aviation equipment manufacturers, airports, and aircraft operators. GAO addressed (1) FAA's ATC systems acquisition activities, (2) key NextGen planning and transition issues, and (3) key challenges that FAA faces in implementing NextGen. GAO reviewed FAA's management processes and cost and schedule data for acquiring ATC systems, interviewed senior FAA, JPDO, and NASA officials, and 24 aviation stakeholders involved in NextGen. This report is also based on recent GAO products. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and NASA provided technical corrections, which GAO included.

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