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GAO discussed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) progress in: (1) procuring the technologies required for the National Airspace System (NAS); and (2) developing human resources, including adequate controller and inspector work forces. GAO found that: (1) since NAS has experienced schedule delays, it is difficult for FAA to maintain the necessary level of air traffic control; (2) FAA is forecasting airline industry savings from NAS farther into the future; (3) the delays have increased the unused Aviation Trust Fund balance; and (4) the complexity of the automated systems, the time needed to develop associated software, and the interdependency among the systems have caused the delays. GAO also found that FAA recently changed its acquisition process to correct these problems by: (1) issuing standard operating procedures for acquiring major systems; (2) establishing test and evaluation policies and procedures, and (3) changing its methods of acquisition and design of individual systems. GAO also believes that the installation and integration of the various radars, data processors, and data links in the NAS plan may result in further delays. GAO also believes that the FAA 1988 budget request does not reflect its need to increase its staff of controllers, inspectors, and technicians to maintain a satisfactory standard of service.

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