oversight

Air Traffic Control: Observations on FAA's Air Traffic Control Modernization Program

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-03-25.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                         United States General Accounting Office

GAO                      Testimony
                         Before the Subcommittee on Aviation, Committee on
                         Commerce, Science and Transportation, U.S. Senate




To Be Released
at 10 a.m. EST
Thursday
                         AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL
March 25, 1999


                         Observations on FAA’s Air
                         Traffic Control
                         Modernization Program
                         Statement for the Record by
                         Gerald L. Dillingham
                         Associate Director, Transportation Issues
                         Resources, Community and Economic
                         Development Division




GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
    Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

    We appreciate the opportunity to provide our observations on the Federal
    Aviation Administration’s (FAA) efforts to modernize the nation’s air traffic
    control system. In 1981, FAA began a multibillion-dollar modernization
    effort to improve the safety, capacity, and efficiency of this system to meet
    the increasing demand for air traffic services and to replace aging
    equipment. The agency’s most recent estimate is that it will spend
    approximately $41 billion on the modernization effort through 2004. FAA
    has had some success in deploying new modernization systems over the
    past two decades. However, the agency has not delivered most of its major
    systems within cost, schedule, and performance goals due largely to its
    failure to implement established guidelines for acquiring new systems.
    Implementing disciplined acquisition management practices is key to
    allowing the agency to consistently deliver new systems within established
    goals.

    In light of past problems and continuing concerns about key projects
    funded under this program, you asked us to provide current information
    on the status of the modernization program based on prior reports and
    testimonies as well as ongoing work.1 Our statement will focus on (1) the
    causes of the problems that have plagued FAA’s modernization program for
    nearly two decades and (2) recent agency efforts to overcome these
    problems. We will also discuss our concerns about the readiness of FAA
    and others to meet Year 2000 requirements.

    In summary:

•   From the inception of the air traffic control modernization program to
    today, FAA has not consistently followed a disciplined management
    approach for acquiring new systems. In the 1980s and early 1990s, FAA did
    not follow the phased approach of federal acquisition guidance designed
    to help mitigate the cost, schedule, and performance risk associated with
    the development of major systems. The agency believed that it could
    develop and install new systems more quickly by combining several of the
    five phases outlined in this guidance. However, as a result of not following
    this disciplined, phased approach, FAA often encountered major difficulties
    such as those associated with developing the Advanced Automation




    1
      See Air Traffic Control Modernization: Status of FAA’s Modernization Program (GAO/RCED-99-25,
    Dec. 3, 1998) for our most recent work on air traffic control modernization.



    Page 1                                                               GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
                 System.2 In 1995, the Congress exempted FAA from many federal
                 procurement rules and regulations. In April 1996, FAA implemented an
                 acquisition management system, which emphasized, once again, the need
                 for a disciplined approach to acquisition management. However, we found
                 continuing weaknesses in key areas such as how FAA monitors the status
                 of projects throughout their life-cycle.

             •   FAA  has taken a number of steps to overcome problems with past
                 modernization efforts. Most notably, the agency has moved away from its
                 prior practice of taking on large, complex projects all at once and is now
                 acquiring new systems by using a more incremental approach. In addition,
                 the agency is no longer making unilateral decisions about air traffic
                 control modernization. Instead, it has been working actively with the
                 aviation community to make decisions more collaboratively. Furthermore,
                 FAA has begun to address some of the root causes of its modernization
                 problems by implementing processes to help (1) improve its ability to
                 estimate and account for project costs, (2) develop a complete
                 architecture (blueprint) for modernizing the National Airspace System,
                 (3) reduce the risks associated with software development, and (4) reform
                 the organization’s culture, including providing incentives to make
                 managers more accountable. While FAA has delivered some of its major
                 systems, it must be recognized that many of these projects encountered
                 difficulties in meeting their original cost and schedule goals, and the
                 baselines were subsequently revised.

             •   FAA has taken critical steps over the past year to address problems
                 associated with the date change to the year 2000, but much work remains
                 to be done to help ensure that FAA and other key players such as airports
                 have made needed fixes and have contingency plans in place so that
                 operations can continue should problems arise.


                 As the principal component of the National Airspace System, FAA’s air
Background       traffic control system must operate continuously—24 hours a day, 365
                 days a year. Under federal law, FAA has the primary responsibility for
                 operating a common air traffic control system—a vast network of radars;
                 automated data processing, navigation, and communications equipment;
                 and air traffic control facilities. FAA meets this responsibility by providing
                 such services as controlling takeoffs and landings and managing the flow


                 2
                  AAS–the centerpiece of the modernization program-was designed to replace the computer hardware
                 and software, including workstations, used by controllers in air traffic control facilities. Numerous
                 development problems led the agency to restructure the project in 1994.



                 Page 2                                                                  GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
of air traffic between airports.3 The users of FAA’s services include the
military, other government users, private pilots, and commercial aircraft
operators.4 Projects in FAA’s modernization program are primarily
organized around seven functional areas—automation, communications,
facilities, navigation and landing, surveillance, weather, and mission
support.

FAA expects to spend approximately $41 billion for its modernization
program through 2004.5 Of this amount, Congress appropriated over
$27 billion for fiscal years 1982 through 1999. The agency expects that
approximately $13 billion will be provided for fiscal years 2000 through
2004. See figure 1 for an illustration of how FAA’s appropriation was
divided among the seven functional areas.




3
 FAA uses three types of facilities to control traffic. Airport towers direct traffic on the ground, before
landing, and after takeoff within about 5 nautical miles from the airport and about 3,000 feet above the
airport. Terminal radar approach control (TRACON) facilities sequence and separate aircraft as they
approach and leave airports, beginning about 5 nautical miles and ending about 50 nautical miles from
the airport and generally up to 10,000 feet above the ground. Air route traffic control centers, called en
route centers, control planes in transit and during approaches to some airports. The airspace that most
en route centers control extends above 18,000 feet for commercial aircraft. En route centers also
handle aircraft at lower altitudes when dealing directly with a control tower or when agreed upon with
a terminal facility.
4
 The Department of Defense (DOD), with FAA’s authority and oversight, also provides air traffic
services, primarily in support of its military mission but also to civil users. The DOD operates tower
and terminal facilities; therefore, FAA and DOD have formally agreed to cooperate in modernizing air
traffic control facilities.
5
 Total spending on modernization includes all actual and projected facilities and equipment
appropriations from fiscal year 1982 through fiscal 2004 for projects in FAA’s financial plan. Projected
appropriations for future years fluctuate so the total estimated spending will vary. FAA’s financial plan
contains funding primarily for projects, including prime contract costs; costs for personnel
compensation, benefits, and travel; and contract costs for technical support service activities. The plan
also includes estimated future costs for some projects that have not yet been funded but are part of the
National Airspace System architecture.


Page 3                                                                     GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
Figure 1: Air Traffic Control
Modernization: Funding by Functional
Areas, FY 1982-99 (Dollars in billions)                                          9%
                                                                                 Surveillance ($2.6)

                                                                                 5%
                                                                                 Weather ($1.5)

                                                                                 7%
                                                                                 Other ($1.9)


                                                             •
                                                       •
                                                                 23% •           Automation ($6.3)
                                                   •

                                                   •
                                                                    12% •        Communications ($3.2)

                                                       20%
                                                         •
                                                                 16% •           Facilities ($4.4)




                                                                                 Mission support ($5.6)

                                                                                 8%
                                                                                 Navigation and landing ($2.1)




                                          Source: FAA.




                                          Figure 2 illustrates how FAA’s appropriation was divided by project
                                          status—completed projects, ongoing projects, canceled/restructured
                                          projects, and personnel-related expenses.




                                          Page 4                                                     GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
Figure 2: Air Traffic Control
Modernization: Funding by Project
Status, FY 1982-1999 (Dollars in billions)

                                                                        •                         7%
                                                                                                  Personnel-related costs ($1.9)
                                                                            10%
                                                                              •


                                                   60%                       23%
                                                     •                         •




                                                                                                  Canceled/restructured projects
                                                                                                  ($2.8)

                                                                                                  Completed projects ($6.3)

                                                                                                  Ongoing projects ($16.5)




                                             Source: FAA.




                                             Over the past 17 years, FAA’s modernization projects have experienced
                                             substantial cost overruns, lengthy schedule delays, and significant
                                             performance shortfalls. Because of the size, complexity, cost, and
                                             problem-plagued past of FAA’s modernization program, we have designated
                                             it a high-risk information technology investment since 1995.6



                                             6
                                              FAA’s modernization program is one of four high-risk system development and modernization efforts.
                                             See High-Risk Series: An Overview (GAO/HR-95-1, Feb. 1995), High-Risk Series: Information
                                             Management and Technology (GAO/HR-97-9, Feb. 1997), and High-Risk Series: An Update
                                             (GAO/HR-99-1, Jan. 1999).



                                             Page 5                                                                GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
                             FAA has encountered difficulty in acquiring new systems to help achieve its
FAA Has Historically         goals of replacing the air traffic control system’s aging infrastructure and
Not Followed a               of meeting the projected increase in air traffic. In the 1980s and early
Disciplined                  1990s, the agency did not follow the structured approach outlined in
                             federal acquisition guidance. Even after the agency revised its approach in
Acquisition                  1991—to address past shortcomings in the design and implementation of
Management                   the approach—problems persisted with FAA’s air traffic control
                             modernization program. In 1996, FAA began a new approach that
Approach                     emphasized, once again, the need for discipline in selecting, monitoring,
                             and evaluating modernization projects. Despite this new approach,
                             problems persist with FAA’s ability to effectively implement and manage its
                             modernization program. We have identified a number of root causes that
                             have contributed to modernization problems. These causes are related to
                             the lack of a disciplined acquisition management approach.


During the First Decade of   In the 1980s and early 1990s, we reported that problems with
Modernization, FAA Did       modernization projects occurred largely because FAA did not follow the
Not Follow a Disciplined     guidance outlined in Office of Management and Budget Circular A-109,
                             which is the principal guidance for acquiring major systems in the federal
Approach                     government.7 Circular A-109 calls for following a disciplined, five-phased
                             approach to acquisition in order to minimize problems, such as cost
                             increases and schedule delays. The five phases include (1) determining
                             mission needs; (2) identifying and exploring alternative design concepts;
                             (3) demonstrating alternative design concepts, including prototype testing,
                             and evaluation; (4) initiating full-scale development and limited
                             production, including independent testing; and (5) full production. Before
                             moving from one phase to the next, the guidance calls for a key decision
                             point, at which time agency heads are to evaluate the cost, schedule, and
                             performance parameters of major projects. During these reviews, any
                             management concerns about these parameters must be resolved before
                             the acquisition is allowed to proceed.

                             From the inception of the air traffic control modernization program until
                             1991, FAA did not follow Circular A-109 guidance. The agency believed that
                             it could deliver and install new systems more quickly by combining
                             Circular A-109 phases. For example, FAA merged the first three phases into
                             one, under which the agency performed some prototype testing but
                             ignored mission need and alternative analyses. However, FAA’s failure to
                             follow Circular A-109 resulted in delays in many of the major systems in

                             7
                              On April 5, 1976, the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, issued
                             Circular A-109. The circular was designed to improve the effectiveness of the management of major
                             system acquisitions.



                             Page 6                                                                 GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
                            the modernization effort, most notably FAA’s centerpiece project, known as
                            the Advanced Automation System (AAS). For example, FAA contracted for
                            the production of a key component of this project before it had fully
                            defined requirements for this component. Between 1983 and 1991, the lack
                            of clarity and decisiveness in resolving requirements contributed to costs
                            for the project increasing from $2.6 billion to $4.5 billion and the schedule
                            slipping by 7 years.


FAA Incorporated Circular   In February 1991, FAA issued revised guidance on major acquisitions,
A-109 Guidance Into Its     which put FAA policy in compliance with Circular A-109. Among the
Approach in 1991            changes incorporated in this guidance was a requirement that new
                            projects have a mission needs statement approved before being included
                            in FAA’s budget. The guidance also required that alternatives be identified
                            and evaluated and that operational testing be conducted and reviewed by
                            an independent test group within FAA before production decisions were
                            made. Moreover, FAA required that program managers submit a risk
                            management plan, including measures to reduce risk, that FAA senior
                            managers must approve before an acquisition could proceed to the next
                            phase. Program managers were also required to develop acquisition
                            program baselines (boundaries) for the most costly major
                            acquisitions—usually those exceeding $150 million. These baseline
                            documents were intended to promote stability and control costs by
                            establishing quantified targets for key performance, cost, and schedule
                            parameters that are critical to the success of the acquisition.

                            Although FAA revised its acquisition policies in 1991 to instill more
                            discipline into the acquisition management process, shortcomings in both
                            design and implementation limited the process’s effectiveness. For
                            example, the agency’s acquisition orders and guidance still did not require
                            an analysis of current system performance as the starting point in the
                            acquisition process. Instead, under the order, the starting point for the
                            acquisition process was the mission needs statement. The order did not
                            include any procedures or guidance for conducting a mission analysis
                            before generating mission needs statements and made little mention of
                            what types of data analyses were expected. As a result, the agency did not
                            document that its current assets could no longer fulfil its needs and did
                            not have any assurance that it was not wasting scarce resources in
                            developing systems that were not the most appropriate and cost-effective.
                            Similarly, senior acquisition officials did not thoroughly review project
                            justifications to ensure that they were adequately supported. Other
                            conditions that contributed to this lack of discipline in FAA’s acquisition



                            Page 7                                                GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
                         process during this period included the frequent turnover of FAA senior
                         managers. For example, between 1982 and 1995, the average tenure of the
                         FAA Administrator was less than 2 years. This lack of continuity in
                         personnel allowed the agency’s bureaucracy to focus on short-term
                         improvements, avoid accountability, and resist fundamental changes.


FAA Implemented Its      FAA continued to experience problems in the mid-1990s with its major
Acquisition Management   acquisitions. For example, in 1994, FAA restructured AAS after the
System in 1996           estimated cost to deploy the system had tripled, capabilities were
                         significantly less than promised, and delays were expected to run nearly a
                         decade. Additionally, the costs of the Voice Switching and Control
                         System8 increased by 400 percent, from about $260 million to $1.4 billion,
                         and the project’s planned date for implementation slipped by 6 years.
                         Concerned about the continuing slow pace of the air traffic control
                         modernization program—which led at times to FAA’s having to implement
                         costly interim projects to sustain the ATC system—FAA sought from the
                         Congress exemptions from many federal procurement rules. The agency
                         asserted that these rules contributed to its acquisition problems and that
                         exemptions would allow it to reduce the time and cost to deliver new
                         products and services. In response, Congress exempted FAA in 19959 from
                         many federal procurement rules, and the agency implemented its
                         Acquisition Management System (AMS) on April 1, 1996. AMS is intended
                         to provide high-level acquisition policy and guidance and to establish
                         rigorous management practices for selecting and monitoring investments.

                         To date, FAA has established a structure that is generally sound and could
                         provide the discipline needed to help ensure that ATC modernization
                         projects are implemented in a cost-effective manner. However, our past
                         and recent work have shown that FAA has fallen short when it comes to
                         implementing practices to build discipline into acquisition management.
                         Specifically, our preliminary findings on FAA’s present approach indicate
                         that the agency has not fully implemented an effective process for
                         monitoring the cost, schedule, benefits, performance, and risk of its key
                         projects throughout their life-cycle. Additionally, FAA lacks an evaluation
                         process for assessing outcomes after projects have been developed to help
                         improve the selection and monitoring of future projects.



                         8
                          The Voice Switching and Control System replaces and improves ground-to-ground and air-to-ground
                         communications equipment at FAA’s air route traffic control centers.
                         9
                          Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-50).



                         Page 8                                                                 GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
Root Causes of           As we reported in 1995, exempting FAA from procurement rules could
Modernization Problems   result in a somewhat more expeditious acquisition process, but those
Are Varied               looking for dramatic, immediate changes in the modernization program
                         would likely be disappointed.10 Our work showed then, and continues to
                         show today, that the schedule, cost, and performance problems are caused
                         by factors other than procurement rules. We have reported on several root
                         causes of FAA’s past modernization problems. First, FAA lacks reliable cost
                         estimating practices and cost accounting data, which leaves it at risk of
                         making ill-informed decisions on critical and costly air traffic control
                         systems and limits the ability of congressional decisionmakers to make
                         trade-offs among FAA programs.11 Second, FAA attempted to modernize the
                         National Airspace System without a complete systems architecture, or
                         blueprint, to guide development and evolution and did not have the
                         management structure needed to enforce its architecture once
                         completed.12 The result has been unnecessarily higher spending to buy,
                         integrate, and maintain hardware and software. Third, FAA processes for
                         acquiring software for air traffic control systems are ad hoc, sometimes
                         chaotic, and not repeatable across projects.13 As a result, FAA is at great
                         risk of acquiring software that does not perform as intended and is not
                         delivered on time and within budget. Finally, FAA’s organizational
                         culture—the values, beliefs, attitudes, and expectations shared by an
                         organization’s members that affect their behavior and the behavior of the
                         whole organization—is an underlying cause of acquisition problems.14
                         When employees act in ways that do not reflect a strong commitment to
                         mission focus, accountability, coordination, and adaptability, acquisitions
                         can be impaired. We made recommendations in these reports to correct
                         these root causes.




                         10
                          See Federal Aviation Administration: Issues Related to FAA Reform (GAO-T-RCED-95-247, Aug. 2,
                         1995).
                         11
                           See Air Traffic Control: Improved Cost Information Needed to Make Billion-Dollar Modernization
                         Investment Decisions (GAO/AIMD-97-20, Jan. 22, 1997).
                         12
                          See Air Traffic Control: Complete and Enforced Architecture Needed for FAA Systems Modernization
                         (GAO/AIMD-97-30, Feb. 3, 1997).
                         13
                          See Air Traffic Control: Immature Software Acquisition Processes Increase FAA Systems Acquisition
                         Risks (GAO/AIMD-97-47, Mar. 21, 1997).
                         14
                          See Aviation Acquisition: A Comprehensive Strategy Is Needed for Cultural Change at FAA,
                         GAO/RCED-96-159.



                         Page 9                                                                GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
                        FAAhas taken a number of steps, in addition to implementing its
FAA Has Taken Steps     Acquisition Management System, to overcome past problems with
to Overcome             modernization efforts. However, most of these initiatives are just getting
Modernization           under way, and it is too soon to tell how successful they will be.
                        Additionally, the agency has now completed work on about 90
Problems and Has        modernization projects. In some cases, the costs were higher and the
Delivered Some          development longer than expected.
Systems
Recent Initiatives to   The FAA Administrator took a notable step in November 1997 when she
Address Modernization   began an outreach effort to the aviation community to build consensus on
Problems                and seek commitment to the future direction of the agency’s
                        modernization program. As a result of this outreach effort, FAA and the
                        aviation community agreed to (1) use an incremental approach to
                        modernizing the National Airspace System, referred to as the “build a
                        little, test a little” approach; (2) revise its blueprint for modernizing this
                        system; and (3) deploy certain technologies earlier than FAA had planned
                        because the aviation industry believed that these technologies could
                        provide immediate benefits. These practices differ from those of the past
                        in which FAA made unilateral decisions about air traffic control
                        modernization and tried to deploy large, complex projects all at once,
                        known as the “big bang” approach.

                        Furthermore, FAA has actions under way to address the root causes we
                        have identified in the past with its acquisitions. First, FAA has begun to
                        develop a cost estimating process for its projects that will satisfy
                        recognized estimating standards; draft guidance on reporting project cost
                        estimates as ranges rather than precise point estimates; and develop a cost
                        accounting system. Specifically, FAA plans to complete a cost estimating
                        handbook, which should help improve the agency’s approach to estimating
                        project costs. However, FAA has not established a firm date for issuing the
                        handbook or for completing other tasks related to cost estimating. As for
                        cost accounting, FAA had hoped to have a system operating by October
                        1998, but officials underestimated the complexity of developing the system
                        and found that their implementation milestones were unrealistic. The
                        agency now projects that the system will be fully operational by April
                        2001. Second, FAA has begun to develop a complete systems architecture
                        for its modernization program and estimated in May 1998 that it would
                        take 18 to 24 months to complete the development. Third, FAA has initiated
                        efforts to improve its software acquisition processes. However, these
                        efforts have not been implemented agencywide. In this connection, the




                        Page 10                                                GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
                         agency hired a Chief Information Officer in February 1999. It is expected
                         that FAA will establish a management structure similar to the
                         department-level Chief Information Officers provision of the
                         Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, as we recommended.14 If so, the Chief
                         Information Officer organization would be responsible for activities
                         related to information technology, including software acquisition and
                         systems architecture. Finally, FAA has outlined its overall structure for
                         changing its organizational culture and described its ongoing actions to
                         influence organizational culture.15 In this area, FAA has a pilot program
                         under way for a new compensation program that it plans to implement
                         agencywide.


FAA Has Delivered Some   In recent years, FAA has claimed some success with delivering systems
Modernization Systems    under its modernization program. While the agency has completed some
                         modernization projects since 1982, many of the major projects, especially
                         in the automation area, are years behind schedule. The agency has spent
                         $6.3 billion of the over $27 billion appropriated between 1982 and 1999 on
                         93 completed projects. We note that although FAA completed several of its
                         major projects, they generally cost more than anticipated and were
                         delivered behind schedule. For example, FAA has declared the Display
                         System Replacement a success because it deployed operational equipment
                         to the first of 20 sites in December 1998.16 However, FAA’s 1983
                         modernization plan called for a similar system under the Advanced
                         Automation System to be deployed in 1990. Likewise, FAA is now
                         completing the deployment of other key systems first identified in its 1983
                         modernization plan. For example, FAA expects to complete the deployment
                         later this year of two projects—Airport Surface Detection Equipment and
                         Air Route Surveillance Radar—which were originally scheduled to be
                         completed in 1990 and 1995, respectively.17 Of FAA’s key modernization
                         projects, the agency has successfully deployed two large-scale projects
                         over the past 17 years—both involving the HOST computer system.18 FAA
                         completed the implementation of the HOST computer in 1988 and is

                         14
                           The Clinger-Cohen Act requires that major federal departments and agencies establish Chief
                         Information Officers that report to the department/agency head and are responsible for developing,
                         maintaining, and facilitating the acquisition of information technology systems.
                         15
                           See Strategy for Acquisition Culture Change, FAA (June 1997).
                         16
                          The Display System Replacement will modernize en route center equipment by replacing
                         20-to-30-year-old display channels, controllers’ workstations, and network infrastructure.
                         17
                          Airport Surface Detection Equipment detects traffic on airport runways. Air Route Surveillance
                         Radar detects air traffic and weather in the en route environment.
                         18
                          The HOST computer is the centerpiece information-processing system in FAA’s en route centers. It
                         processes flight, radar, and display data for use by the controllers.


                         Page 11                                                                 GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
                       currently replacing portions of this system. Both of these projects involve
                       replacing hardware while utilizing existing system software.


                       On a related issue, our work on the Year 2000 problem has shown that FAA
Progress Made on       has made tremendous progress over the past year, but much remains to be
Addressing Year 2000   done to complete the validation and implementation of FAA’s
Problems               mission-critical systems.19 In addition to these systems, the agency is
                       concerned that system failures by external organizations, such as airports
                       and foreign air traffic control systems could seriously affect FAA’s ability to
                       provide aviation services. For example, we recently reported that 26 of the
                       largest 50 airports in the United States are not planning to be Year 2000
                       compliant by June 30, 1999.20 Because of the risk of anticipated and
                       unanticipated failures—whether from internal systems or from reliance on
                       external partners and suppliers—a comprehensive business continuity and
                       contingency plan is crucial to continuing core operations. FAA drafted its
                       Year 2000 Business Continuity and Contingency Plan in December 1998
                       and is currently reviewing it. The agency plans to release four more
                       iterations of this plan by the end of the year, with the next version due out
                       in April 1999. We and others have expressed some concerns with FAA’s
                       draft plans, which the agency is working to address.


                       In conclusion Mr. Chairman, FAA has fallen short over the past two
                       decades in implementing a disciplined management acquisition approach.
                       While the agency has many of the elements in place to improve its
                       management of the modernization program, implementation is key to the
                       agency’s future success in this area. Among the positive steps that FAA has
                       taken include actions to bring stability to the agency’s senior management
                       ranks, as evidenced by the Administrator’s commitment to serve a full
                       5-year term. Moreover, she has filled many key management positions that
                       had been vacant and has also begun to provide senior managers with
                       incentives to work together toward agency goals. For the most part, FAA
                       will need to sustain its commitment to fully implementing the various
                       initiatives underway. As a first priority, it will be important for the agency
                       to continue all of its efforts to help ensure that it can fulfill its mission
                       when the year 2000 arrives. As for the longer-term, FAA’s continued
                       collaboration with the aviation community will allow the agency to

                       19
                        See Year 2000 Computing Crisis: FAA is Making Progress But Important Challenges Remain
                       (GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118, Mar. 15, 1999).
                       20
                        See Year 2000 Computing Crisis: Status of Airports’ Efforts to Deal with Date Change Problem
                       (GAO/RCED/AIMD-99-57, Jan. 29, 1999).



                       Page 12                                                                GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
           develop future plans for air traffic control modernization, including
           establishing realistic and clear goals and measures for tracking progress.
           Similarly, fully implementing solutions to the root causes of modernization
           problems and strengthening FAA’s control over modernization investments
           will better position the agency to consistently deliver modernization
           projects within established cost, schedule, and performance goals.




(348165)   Page 13                                              GAO/T-RCED/AIMD-99-137
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