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GAO discussed fundamental weaknesses in the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) acquisition of major automated systems. GAO noted that FAA inadequately justified its planned procurement under the Computer Resources Nucleus (CORN) project, intended to hire a contractor to provide and operate computer facilities for general-purpose data processing functions, since FAA: (1) could not support its claims regarding insufficient computer capacity, poor response times, and increased data processing needs; (2) lacked a reliable method for validating bidders' proposed solutions; (3) did not provide bidders with complete information about the requirements; and (4) based its cost estimate for converting to CORN on unsupported assumptions regarding staff resources and unit costs. GAO also found that, under the Mode Select procurement, FAA: (1) decided to purchase 259 additional air traffic control systems before it tested any of the 137 systems it originally ordered; (2) spent about $145 million before receiving the first system; (3) did not remedy contract problems as they arose, causing significant delivery delays; (4) did not adequately develop or test the system before awarding the production contract; and (5) did not properly analyze requirements, adequately consider alternatives, or evaluate benefits and costs. In addition, GAO found that FAA experienced problems in acquiring its Advanced Automation System, due to: (1) the addition of requirements during the design competition phase; (2) an overly ambitious software development schedule; and (3) the contractor's inability to resolve key requirements problems.

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