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GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) acquisition of the Advanced Automation System (AAS) to determine whether it is a technically and economically sound investment.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation 1. The Secretary of Transportation should direct FAA to revise its AAS acquisition strategy to incorporate a contract phase to develop and operationally test prototype models of critical components under realistic conditions before the decision and contract award are made for full production quantities. At a minimum, critical components should include the controller workstations, en route hardware and software, and the local communications network.
Closed - Implemented
FAA revised the acquisition strategy to develop and test critical components before production, reducing risks of producing a system requiring costly changes to perform satisfactorily. By deferring large production costs from 1988 to 1991, the change also leads to better use of funds and measurable accomplishment of $332 million in fiscal year (FY) 1988 and $250 million for future years.
Department of Transportation 2. The Secretary of Transportation should direct FAA to reexamine AAS features and requirements to identify the most inexpensive and cost-effective alternatives and to revalidate requirements before proceeding to the development and testing phase.
Closed - Implemented
FAA reduced or eliminated cost driving requirements resulting in estimated program savings of $632 million over the 12-year acquisition period. This action results in another measurable accomplishment of $52.67 million in FY 1988 and an equal amount for future years, based on the assumption that savings will occur equally over the 12-year acquisition period.
Department of Transportation 3. The Secretary of Transportation should direct FAA to verify the benefit estimates and the operational suitability of Aera 1 and Aera 2 functional enhancements by operational simulation as soon as it is practicable, and before proceeding with full-scale production.
Closed - Implemented
Simulation will increase the probability of deploying timely, state-of-the-art functions, thus providing unmeasurable system performance and cost-reduction benefits.

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