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Highlights

Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the status of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) project, focusing on: (1) whether the Secretary of Transportation's report provides a complete assessment of FAA's risks in developing the WAAS project; and (2) how alternative assumptions would affect WAAS' benefit-cost analysis of January 1998.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation 1. To assist Congress in making future funding decisions for the Wide Area Augmentation System project, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to report information to Congress on the range of milestones for making the initial and full WAAS operational and the probabilities associated with those milestones.
Closed - Implemented
The agency completed an alternatives analysis in September 1999 to determine what the future air navigation system would look like. This analysis presents a range of alternatives and discusses the risks associated with implementing FAA's preferred WAAS approach. As a result of this analysis, which will be provided to Congress, decisionmakers will be better able to understand the milestones for achieving system improvements.
Department of Transportation 2. To assist Congress in making future funding decisions for the Wide Area Augmentation System project, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to report information to Congress on a detailed explanation of the agency's strategy for leasing geostationary satellites.
Closed - Implemented
FAA has considered several options for acquiring additional geostationary satellites. Furthermore, FAA has completed a lease vs. buy analysis to support its strategy for leasing geostationary satellites. This lease vs. buy analysis is being provided to Congress.
Department of Transportation 3. To assist Congress in making future funding decisions for the Wide Area Augmentation System project, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA to report information to Congress on updated benefit-cost analyses, including a comparison with alternative investments of FAA's resources and an explanation of the effects of including small increments of passenger time savings.
Closed - Implemented
FAA's alternatives analysis completed in September 1999, included an updated benefit-cost analysis of WAAS along with benefit-cost analyses of alternative investments. It also highlighted how effects of including small increments of passenger time savings impact the value of the WAAS investment.

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