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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the computer systems the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) uses to safely control air traffic, focusing on: (1) the extent to which computer software problems affect FAA control of air traffic en route between airports; and (2) whether FAA actions to minimize and resolve those problems are timely and effective.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation The Administrator, FAA, should direct that the current backlog of high-priority and medium-priority problems involving a significant risk to the air traffic system be resolved as soon as practicable.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) concurred in the recommendation and FAA subsequently allocated additional contractor resources to reduce its backlog of software problems.
Department of Transportation The Administrator, FAA, should develop and implement a software maintenance plan that includes establishing standard time frames, based on problem severity and analysis of risk to the air traffic system, for resolving software problems.
Closed - Not Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Not Implemented.

DOT did not concur with the recommendation. It stated that establishing standard time frames for resolving software problems is not practical.
Department of Transportation The Administrator, FAA, should develop and implement a software maintenance plan that includes reducing the inventory of system patches, including establishing milestones for early reduction, and setting goals to minimize future patches.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

DOT concurred in the recommendation and FAA has allocated additional resources to lessen its reliance on system patches.
Department of Transportation The Administrator, FAA, should develop and implement a software maintenance plan that includes identifying the resources needed to maintain system software until the Advanced Automation System is implemented.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

DOT stated that it concurred with the recommendation and has been identifying the resources needed to maintain software in annual budget submissions. However, as discussed in the GAO report, these annual submissions do not focus on the strategic planning required to address long-term resource needs.
Department of Transportation The Administrator, FAA, should develop and implement a software maintenance plan that includes acquiring modern automated tools that can assist in estimating the amount of effort required to maintain the system and correct software problems.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

DOT stated that it partially concurred with the recommendation but believed that modern automated tools were not available for its system. As discussed in the GAO report, tools are available that can assist in estimating the amount of maintenance effort.

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