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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) program for testing the air traffic control systems and equipment it procures under its National Airspace System (NAS) plan.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation 1. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to revise the recently issued test policy by providing for a test and evaluation component organizationally independent of the development and user communities, in accordance with federal guidance. This independent component should be responsible for ensuring that adequate test plans and procedures are developed and that testing is successfully completed for all critical NAS systems. To discharge its responsibilities, the component should: (1) be responsible for reviewing all NAS systems it considers critical to safety, regardless of their cost; (2) be given test plans, procedures, and other documentation that it determines is necessary to assess tests and evaluations; and (3) review test results and report findings to an appropriate level.
Closed - Implemented
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the recently revised test and evaluation order addresses all of the reported shortcomings, except for the independence issue. DOT stated that the recent FAA organizational realignment has addressed the issue of independence from the developers and users.
Department of Transportation 2. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to: (1) focus management attention on implementing fully the test and evaluation policy; and (2) periodically review the program to ensure its success.
Closed - Implemented
DOT stated that the recently established Test Policy and Planning Review Board will provide continuous management oversight.

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