Air Traffic Control: FAA's Modernization Investment Management Approach Could Be Strengthened

RCED/AIMD-99-88 Published: Apr 30, 1999. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 1999.
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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) modernization investment management approach as carried out through the Acquisition Management System (AMS), focusing on the extent to which FAA, through AMS: (1) has established a structured approach for selecting and controlling its investments; (2) incorporates all investments, including those in operation, in the agency's portfolio; and (3) selects, controls, and evaluates its investments with complete and reliable information.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to improve the selection process by: (1) establishing clearly defined procedures for validating projects' cost, schedule, benefit, performance, and risk information; and (2) requiring documentation of the results of the validation procedures applied to each project.
Closed – Implemented
FAA officials have established procedures for validating projects' cost, benefits, and risk information, and for documenting these validation efforts. Further, FAA's investment management teams are currently validating this information and documenting their validation efforts on the systems they assess.
Department of Transportation The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to strengthen control over investments by: (1) revising the acquisition program baseline requirements to include project risks and to add milestones for project reviews during the operations phase; and (2) ensuring that project officials fully track and document estimated versus actual results on all the elements (i.e., costs, schedule, performance, and risks) contained in the baseline documentation.
Closed – Implemented
FAA revised the acquisition program baseline requirements to include systems' risk assessments, and identified milestones for project reviews during the operations phase. Further, FAA enhanced its Acquisition Program Baseline to allow it to track estimated and actual data on cost, schedule, performance and risk. Projects are currently submitting this information on a monthly basis to investment managers.
Department of Transportation The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to initiate post-implementation evaluations for projects within 3 to 12 months of deployment or cancellation to compare the completed projects' costs, schedule, performance, and mission improvement outcomes with the original estimates.
Closed – Not Implemented
FAA has not implemented a post-implementation review process. An agency official stated that the agency would revisit the issue after FAA becomes a performance-based organization, but a date for this transition has not yet been established.
Department of Transportation The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to incorporate key information from the selection process (e.g., mission need statements, cost-benefit analyses, and risk assessments) into FAA's management information system for investments.
Closed – Implemented
FAA has established an information system, called the Corporate History Inventory, which includes relevant documents from the selection process.
Department of Transportation The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to establish a complete portfolio of investments--including existing systems funded by the operations budget account as well as projects funded by the facilities and equipment account--and to require the Joint Resources Council to periodically review the baseline status and merits of each of these investments throughout their entire life cycles. As part of this portfolio, cost baselines for operating and maintaining all projects should be developed, and this information should be included in the agency's financial plan for its investments and in its annual budget request to Congress.
Closed – Implemented
FAA has developed a portfolio of investments which includes operational baselines for new systems. Also, FAA officials reported that the JRC reviews investments throughout their lifecycles. However, FAA does not yet have a policy requiring such reviews. The agency expects to implement a life-cycle management policy which will require such reviews after obtaining input from the new chief operations officer. Further, FAA developed a database/reporting tool to automate portfolio cost information and is using this tool to report on budgeting status.

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