Skip to Highlights
Highlights

GAO discussed issues concerning the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) effectiveness in ensuring aviation safety in light of recent proposals to make FAA an independent agency. GAO found that: (1) FAA modernization of air traffic control equipment under the National Airspace System (NAS) Plan was one of the largest civilian procurements ever undertaken; (2) NAS costs have risen from the 1981 estimate of $12 billion to an estimated $24 billion by the year 2000; (3) NAS delays have resulted from unrealistic schedules and technology development problems; (4) although FAA must manage over 44,000 personnel to achieve its mission, its staffing standards are inadequate to address its work-force shortages; (5) FAA dependence on the Office of Personnel Management to conduct prospective employee exams and investigations caused hiring delays; (6) Department of Transportation (DOT) oversight of FAA was instrumental in improving security and inspection programs; and (7) although the Aviation Trust Fund had a projected surplus of about $5 billion, legislation restricted the fund's availability to cover work-force salaries and projected needs. GAO believes that Congress may wish to consider: (1) changing the fund's tax and fee structure to provide for its use in financing FAA costs while retaining congressional authorization and appropriation oversight; and (2) whether an independent FAA would best serve the long-term interests of transportation policy and aviation.

Full Report