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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) automated safety enhancements for air traffic controllers at smaller terminal radar approach control facilities (TRACON), focusing on: (1) the extent of and reasons for delays in developing, testing, and deploying the Automated Radar Terminal System (ARTS IIA) hardware and software; and (2) whether FAA adequately identified current and future computer capacity requirements for smaller TRACON.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation 1. Experience gained in implementing the ARTS IIA project can be used to prevent similar problems from occurring on future projects. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to improve management of future TRACON automation projects by awarding production contracts only after development is complete, controlling changes to operational software during system development and production, and requiring contractors to perform integrated testing.
Closed - Implemented
The Department stated that FAA is ensuring that production contracts are not awarded until development is complete and that a prototype system has successfully passed an operational test. This is part of a larger program to improve the acquisition process following Office of Management and Budget Circular A-109, Major System Acquisitions, guidelines.
Department of Transportation 2. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to implement a computer capacity and performance management program for ARTS IIA systems. This program should include an analysis of current system performance and future work loads, including predicted traffic levels and additional software functions to determine system requirements, as well as the potential performance of the enhanced system.
Closed - Implemented
The Department agreed with the recommendation and FAA directed a contractor to develop a computer capacity and system performance monitoring program.
Department of Transportation 3. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to report the lack of a computer capacity and performance management program as a material control weakness under the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act until a program has been implemented.
Closed - Implemented
In its December 1991 Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act report to the Secretary of Transportation, the Department reported the lack of a capacity and performance management program as a material weakness.
Department of Transportation 4. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to delay exercising the expansion contract option to procure additional computers until a computer capacity and performance management program is implemented and future capacity requirements are adequately defined.
Closed - Implemented
The Department agreed to establish computer system capacity requirements before exercising the ARTS IIA Interim Support Plan contract option for Mode C Intruder.

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