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GAO discussed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) appropriation issues, focusing on: (1) how well FAA was ensuring aviation safety; and (2) FAA efforts to modernize the air traffic control (ATC) system. GAO found that: (1) the original FAA $15.8-billion estimate did not reflect all the projects needed to meet original system goals because cost estimates through the year 2000 would total $24 billion; (2) FAA had not established the staffing necessary to implement modernization projects or identified the implications of keeping staff at current levels; (3) FAA was slow to use its technical services contractor to help with field project installation; (4) FAA did not provide adequate guidance to define tasks and scheduling to complete implementation; (5) although FAA has made progress in addressing its critical safety work-force needs, it may not be able to meet full-performance-level staffing goals in the established time frames; (6) FAA instituted a streamlined hiring process for air traffic controllers, planned to expand the process to other safety-related jobs, and developed a system to ensure adequate quality training; and (7) FAA reduced its field maintenance work force for 1990 in order to stay within its funding and may need to contract for the services. GAO believed that FAA needed to: (1) revise its modernization plan to identify the projects, associated benefits, costs, and schedules in order to provide realistic funding projections; and (2) determine its resource needs for project field installation, make more effective use of support contractors, and improve planning and scheduling of implementation activities.

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