Year 2000 Computing Crisis: FAA Is Making Progress But Important Challenges Remain

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-03-15.

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

                          United States General Accounting Office

GAO                       Testimony
                          Before the Subcommittee on Government Management,
                          Information and Technology, Committee on Government
                          Reform, and the Subcommittee on Technology, Committee
                          on Science, House of Representatives

For Release on Delivery
Expected at
10 a.m.
                          YEAR 2000 COMPUTING
March 15, 1999            CRISIS

                          FAA Is Making Progress
                          But Important Challenges
                          Statement of Joel C. Willemssen
                          Director, Civil Agencies Information Systems
                          Accounting and Information Management Division

Mr. Chairman, Ms. Chairwoman, and Members of the Subcommittees:

We appreciate the opportunity to testify on the Federal Aviation
Administration’s (FAA) efforts to address the Year 2000 problem. With
fewer than 300 days remaining until January 1, 2000, this critical issue is at
the forefront of the world’s information technology challenges and is
especially crucial to FAA.

Hundreds of critical computer systems make FAA’s operations possible.
FAA uses these systems to effectively control air traffic, target airlines for
inspection, and provide up-to-date weather conditions to pilots and air
traffic controllers. However, many of these systems could fail to perform
as needed when using dates after 1999 unless proper date-related
calculations can be ensured. Should systems fail or malfunction, hundreds
of thousands of people could be affected through customer inconvenience,
increased airline costs, grounded or delayed flights, or degraded levels of

My statement today will focus on five topics: (1) FAA’s progress to date,
(2) the agency’s self-reported data showing that much remains to be done,
(3) challenges FAA faces in ensuring its internal systems will work,
(4) risks associated with external organizations—focusing specifically on
airports and international entities, and (5) the critical need for business
continuity and contingency plans that identify how aviation operations will
continue should systems fail.

In brief, FAA and its employees have worked hard over these past months
and continue to show dedication in tackling the monumental Year 2000
problem. Looking back to where the agency was only a year ago, FAA has
made tremendous progress. However, much remains to be done to
complete validating and implementing FAA’s mission-critical systems, and
the agency continues to face challenges in making these internal systems
Year 2000 compliant. Additionally, the risk of failures by external
organizations, such as airports and foreign air traffic control systems, could
seriously affect FAA’s ability to provide aviation services—which could
have a dramatic effect on the flow of air traffic across the nation and
around the world. To mitigate the risk that critical internal or external
systems will fail, FAA needs sound business continuity and contingency

Page 1                                                 GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
FAA Has Made              Over the past year, FAA has made substantial progress. In January 1998,
                          FAA had no central Year 2000 program management; an incomplete
Substantial Progress in   inventory of mission-critical systems; no overall strategy for renovating,
Its Year 2000 Program     validating, and implementing mission-critical systems; and no milestone
                          dates or schedules. At that time we recommended that FAA provide its
                          Year 2000 program manager with the authority to enforce policies; outline
                          FAA’s overall strategy for addressing the Year 2000 date change; complete
                          inventories of all information systems and interfaces; set priorities;
                          establish plans for renovating, validating, and testing all converted and
                          replaced systems; and develop Year 2000 business continuity and
                          contingency plans to ensure the continuity of critical operations.

                          FAA has now addressed these recommendations. The agency has a strong
                          Year 2000 management structure; an overall Year 2000 strategy; detailed
                          standards and guidance for renovating, validating, and implementing
                          mission-critical systems; a database of schedules and milestones for these
                          activities; and a draft Year 2000 business continuity and contingency plan.
                          Additionally, FAA reported that it completed 99 percent of its mission-
                          critical systems repairs by the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB)
                          September 1998 deadline and 74 percent of its systems testing by OMB’s
                          January 1999 deadline.

Self-Reported Data        While the governmentwide deadline for completing systems
                          implementation is at the end of this month, FAA’s self-reported data
Show FAA Still Has        demonstrate that much work remains to be done in a limited amount of
Much to Do                time. Specifically, FAA must still finish implementing 141 mission-critical
                          systems. Figure 1 details the overall reported status of FAA’s mission-
                          critical systems as of March 8, 1999.

                          Page 2                                                GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
Figure 1: Percentage of Mission-Critical Systems That Have Completed Key Year
2000 Phases as of March 8, 1999










               Renovation            Validation             Implementation

Source: FAA.

As of March 8, 1999, FAA’s internal systems database showed that 50 of its
423 mission-critical systems had not yet been validated. These include
25 systems that have been repaired, 5 replacement systems, and 20 systems
that were determined not to need repair or replacement. FAA intends to
complete validation of all mission-critical systems by March 31, 1999.

Much more remains to be done to complete the implementation of mission-
critical system repairs and replacements. While FAA determined that
224 of its 423 mission-critical systems do not require changes to be made,
the remaining 199 systems (47 percent) must be modified, replaced, or
newly installed. As of March 8, 1999, FAA reported that it had implemented
58 of these 199 systems. The agency plans to implement an additional
74 systems by March 31, and the remaining 67 systems by June 30, 1999.
Figure 2 details FAA’s schedule for completing the validation and
implementation of its mission-critical systems.

Page 3                                                  GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
                              Figure 2: Percentage of Mission-Critical Systems Completing Validation and
                              Implementation Over Time
                              Percentage complete



                              80              Validation


                              40                                 Projected


                                       01/31/99       02/28/99       03/31/99          04/30/99    05/31/99    06/30/99
                              Source: FAA.

Many Critical Air Traffic     FAA has identified 26 mission critical systems as posing the greatest risk to
Control Systems Still Await   the National Airspace System (NAS)—the network of equipment, facilities,
                              and information that supports U.S. aviation operations--should their repairs
Validation and
                              experience schedule delays or should the systems not be operational on
Implementation                January 1, 2000. FAA ranked mission-critical air traffic control systems
                              based on their impact and criticality to the NAS, their overall functionality,
                              and an evaluation of the risk associated with solving the Year 2000

                              As of March 8, 1999, five of these critical systems had not yet been
                              validated, and 14 had not yet been implemented. Twelve of the 14 that have
                              not yet been implemented--providing critical functions ranging from

                              Page 4                                                              GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
                           communications to radar processing to weather surveillance—are not
                           scheduled to be implemented until after March 31, 1999.1

FAA’s Year 2000 Efforts    FAA faces several challenges in completing its Year 2000 activities. These
                           challenges include
Face Significant
Challenges                 •   ensuring that systems validation efforts are adequate,
                           •   implementing multiple systems at numerous facilities,
                           •   completing data exchange efforts, and
                           •   completing end-to-end testing.

Support for Systems’       FAA’s Year 2000 program office has developed standards for testing and
Validation Is Not Always   implementing mission-critical systems that require system owners to
                           prepare and obtain approval on a validation plan that includes test plans
Sufficient and Complete
                           and procedures, funding requirements, test management roles, and
                           schedules. The system owners are then required to test the system
                           according to this plan, complete a checklist of required validation
                           activities, and prepare a Year 2000 validation results report. Once this
                           report has been approved within the relevant FAA business line, a
                           contractor for FAA’s Year 2000 program office performs an independent
                           verification and validation (IV&V) review of key validation documents. The
                           system is then considered ready to be implemented.

                           In reviewing validation plans, reports, and supporting test documentation
                           for six mission-critical air traffic systems2 that were reported as having
                           completed validation, we found that the validation of three systems was

                           1The 12 systems are (1) the Automated Radar Terminal System (ARTS-IIIE), (2) the Host Environment,
                           (3) the En Route Automated Radar Tracking System, (4) the Graphic Weather Display System, (5) the
                           U.S. Notices to Airmen System, (6) the Aeronautical Mobile Communications Services, (7) the
                           Integrated Communications Switching System (ICSS) Litton-types 2 and 3, (8) ICSS type III-Denro,
                           (9) Terminal Doppler Weather Radar, (10) the Remote Maintenance Monitoring System, (11) Heating,
                           Ventilation and Air Conditioning Systems, and (12) Mejoras Al Enlace De Voz Del ATS, a satellite-based
                           communications system in the Caribbean and Central American regions.

                             In choosing systems for our case studies, we attempted to cover a range of air traffic control functions
                           in different environments. We selected validated systems from three different critical core functions
                           (surveillance, communications, and weather processing) that operated in one or more of the different
                           air traffic control environments (en route, terminal, tower, and flight service station). Two of the
                           systems (FSAS and ICSS-Litton type 2,3) were also chosen because they were identified by FAA as
                           among the 26 most at-risk systems.

                           Page 5                                                                     GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
                                   supported.3 However, one system’s testing was found to be insufficient,
                                  and two systems lacked the documentation necessary to ensure that testing
                                  was adequate.

ARTS-IIIA Validation Testing Is   The Automated Radar Terminal System (ARTS)-IIIA is the critical data
Insufficient                      processing system used in about 55 terminal radar approach control
                                  facilities. These systems provide essential aircraft position and flight plan
                                  information to controllers. The ARTS-IIIA system continues to rely on a
                                  1960s-vintage computer (a UNIVAC 8303 Input Output Processor), which
                                  was originally produced by UNIVAC but is now supported by the Lockheed
                                  Martin Corporation. Home computers available today have 250 times the
                                  memory of this archaic processor. In 1989 and 1990, we reported on the
                                  flight safety risks associated with this system and recommended that FAA
                                  assess other alternatives for meeting air traffic requirements. 4 However,
                                  FAA did not act on our recommendation, stating that it had a plan—which
                                  included continuing with the old processors. Ten years later, these
                                  processors are still in operation.

                                  FAA validated the ARTS-IIIA system based on source code analysis, testing,
                                  and vendor inquiries performed by Lockheed Martin, whose
                                  representatives told us that they retained some of the experts who had
                                  worked on the UNIVAC 8303 processor in the 1960s. Source code analysis
                                  was used to identify all date processing code in the system. Testing was
                                  performed after problematic code was repaired, and vendor inquiries were
                                  used to determine the Year 2000-compliance status of all commercial-off-
                                  the-shelf (COTS) hardware, firmware, and software in the ARTS-IIIA
                                  system. Because of its criticality, we focused on the ARTS-IIIA subsystem
                                  that uses the UNIVAC 8303 processor and processes radar data. We found
                                  shortcomings in the source code analysis, testing, and vendor assessment
                                  of the UNIVAC processor, which form the basis for FAA’s decision to
                                  validate this system.

                                  Specifically, the analysis of the ARTS-IIIA source code, which includes
                                  code written in UNIVAC Ultra assembly language, depended upon using a
                                  common text search utility to search for 10 specific character strings that

                                  3These systems are the Voice Switching and Control System, the Display System Replacement, and the
                                  Low Level Windshear Alert System version FA-10240.

                                   Air Traffic Control: Computer Capacity Shortfalls May Impair Flight Safety (GAO/IMTEC-89-63, July 6,
                                  1989) and Air Traffic Control: Inadequate Planning Increases Risk of Computer Failures in Los Angeles
                                  (GAO/IMTEC-90-49, July 16, 1990).

                                  Page 6                                                                 GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
included “DECADE,” “LEAP,” “YEAR,” “DATE,” and “DAY.” However,
computer programs written in assembly language do not use only common
English words such as “YEAR” and “DATE” for names of date fields.
Instead, assembly language programs often use cryptic names such as
DATCHK (for “date check”) or CURDAT (for “current date”). Thus, FAA’s
analysis may not have found all date processing code in the Ultra assembly
language programs that run in the UNIVAC processor. FAA officials stated
that the code analysis was sufficient because they believe there are no date-
related items in the code. We believe that the criticality of this system
warrants a more thorough analysis.

The ARTS-IIIA system testing consisted of two phases. The first phase,
performed at FAA’s Technical Center, involved evaluating data file transfers
between the ARTS-IIIA memory and the peripheral equipment during
simulations rolling the date forward through key dates—including from
December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000. The second phase, key site testing,
involves performing Year 2000-rollover and functional evaluations at a site.
FAA’s test documentation showed that these tests focused primarily on off-
line programs, such as an editing application. The test documentation does
not show any tests designed to validate the radar tracking functionality of
the UNIVAC 8303 Input Output Processor at critical dates. Therefore, FAA’s
testing to date validated data exchanges between the ARTS-IIIA memory
and the peripheral devices in Year 2000, but not the critical functionality of
tracking real radar data. FAA officials responded that they did not test the
radar tracking functions because they did not make any modifications to
these applications. However, the Lockheed Martin’s test report showed
that there are date calculations in operational segments of the ARTS-IIIA
system. Therefore FAA should test these functions. FAA officials stated
that they plan to test the radar tracking functions during end-to-end testing.

Further, FAA’s use of vendor inquiries to assure the Year 2000 compliance
of COTS hardware, firmware, and software was insufficient, given the
criticality of the ARTS-IIIA system. The list of COTS hardware includes the
UNIVAC 8303 input-output processor, which is no longer produced. FAA
officials told us that they did not request or obtain a statement from the
manufacturer that the processor was Year 2000 compliant. Instead, FAA
relied on Lockheed Martin’s finding--based on analysis by an engineer that
had worked on the UNIVAC processor since the 1960s--that there were no
Year 2000 issues associated with the processor. Given the criticality of this
processor, FAA’s Year 2000 program manager agreed that a statement of the
processor’s Year 2000 compliance would be nice to have. A Lockheed

Page 7                                                 GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
                           Martin representative agreed to look into the possibility of providing such a

                           Because of shortcomings in the source code analysis, testing, and vendor
                           certification of the UNIVAC processor’s Year 2000 compliance, FAA’s
                           validation of the ARTS-IIIA system may be premature. A statement from
                           the vendor that the UNIVAC 8303 processor is Year 2000 compliant together
                           with FAA’s planned end-to-end testing of radar tracking functions should
                           provide greater assurance that the system will work through the Year 2000
                           date change as anticipated.

Two Systems’ Tests Lack    The Integrated Communications Switching System (ICSS)5 supports
Supporting Documentation   ground-to-ground voice communications between air traffic controllers in
                           adjacent facilities and air-to-ground voice communications between air
                           traffic controllers and pilots. We reviewed ICSS test results and found that
                           they lacked sufficient details to determine if all required testing was
                           actually conducted. Specifically, for 1 of 2 key components, we could not
                           determine whether required tests for processing 5 of 11 critical dates had
                           been performed and passed.6 If they were not tested, the risk that the
                           system could experience unanticipated failures on these specific dates is
                           increased. FAA testing documents also did not specify which version of
                           ICSS had been tested and deemed Year 2000 compliant. As a result, the
                           version of ICSS that was successfully tested may not be the version that is
                           implemented in air traffic control facilities. If it is not, there is an increased
                           risk of Year 2000-induced communications failures between air traffic

                           The test results for the Flight Service Automation System (FSAS), which
                           provides essential weather information and flight planning services to
                           general aviation pilots, also did not show whether the required tests for
                           processing 6 of the 11 critical dates had been performed and passed. As a
                           result, to the extent that the tests were not performed, FSAS is also at risk
                           of failing unexpectedly on these dates, potentially affecting the flight
                           planning capabilities of the general aviation community—a group that
                           comprises over 95 percent of all flights within the United States. In

                           5There are multiple versions of ICSS in FAA’s mission-critical systems inventory. We reviewed the
                           validation information on ICSS-Litton types 2 and 3.

                             FAA’s compliance checklist requires the following 11 dates to be checked to ensure that they roll over
                           to the next day correctly: 12/31/1998, 9/9/1999, 9/30/1999, 12/31/1999, 1/1/2000, 2/28/2000, 2/29/2000,
                           3/1/2000, 12/31/2000, 1/1/2001, and 12/31/2027.

                           Page 8                                                                    GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
                             responding to a draft of this testimony late last week, an FAA official stated
                             that he was confident that all of the dates had been tested and agreed to
                             provide the supporting documents this week.

                             Further, the validation plans for both ICSS and FSAS were not completed
                             prior to testing, in accordance with FAA standards. For example, FAA
                             conducted FSAS validation testing through June 1998, but the plan for
                             conducting the validation test was written in July 1998. Not having a plan
                             before testing compromises the integrity and objectivity of the tests and
                             raises the risk that critical testing will be overlooked.

The Number of FAA Air        FAA’s ability to implement system repairs and replacements in a timely
Traffic Control Facilities   manner is complicated by the agency’s highly decentralized nationwide
                             configuration of air traffic control facilities. FAA intends to deploy about
Complicates Systems
                             75 mission-critical air traffic control systems to one or more of its roughly
Implementation               654 air traffic facilities.7 Concurrently rolling out numerous systems
                             changes to multiple sites will be time-consuming, labor-intensive, and filled
                             with difficult implementation challenges.

                             FAA’s Year 2000 program manager acknowledged that schedules are tight
                             and there is no room for any schedule delays. He estimated that FAA has to
                             complete roughly 4500 “events” by June 30, 1999—each one entailing the
                             activation of a single system in a single site. To aid in this monumental
                             task, FAA has established system implementation schedules for managing
                             system changes at its facilities.

Data Exchange Efforts Are    In order to ensure that systems will successfully navigate the Year 2000
Ongoing                      date change, systems’ data exchanges must be assessed and any necessary
                             modifications must be made. If not addressed, data exchanges could cause
                             the failure of an otherwise compliant system.

                             Last month, FAA reported that it had 1,127 data exchanges in its inventory.
                             After evaluating each, the agency determined that 119 data exchanges
                             required modification. FAA reports that these data exchanges are

                               These facilities include the Air Traffic Control System Command Center, Automated Flight Service
                             Stations, Flight Service Stations, Alaskan Rotational Flight Service Stations, Air Route Traffic Control
                             Centers, Airport Traffic Control Towers, Terminal Radar Approach Control facilities, Radar Approach
                             Control facilities, and Combined Center/Radar Approach Control facilities.

                             Page 9                                                                    GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
                     associated with 42 different systems. As of last week, 33 of these systems
                     have been validated and 12 have been implemented. FAA plans to
                     complete implementing modifications to the data exchanges on its mission-
                     critical systems by June 30, 1999.

                     While most of these systems’ data exchanges requiring modification are
                     between internal FAA systems, 10 systems also exchange data with outside
                     entities. Specifically, three systems exchange data with other federal
                     agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and
                     the National Transportation Safety Board; three exchange data with other
                     entities, such as foreign air traffic control providers; and two systems
                     exchange data with both other federal agencies and other entities. Data
                     exchanges with external entities are more at risk because FAA cannot
                     control the schedule and priorities of these organizations. We are
                     continuing to review FAA’s progress in resolving Year 2000 issues
                     associated with data exchanges.

End-to-End Testing   Integrated, end-to-end testing of multiple systems that have individually
Underway             been judged Year 2000 compliant ensures that the systems that collectively
                     support a core business function will operate as intended. Without such
                     testing, systems individually deemed compliant may not work as expected
                     when linked with other systems in an operational environment. This
                     testing should include not only those owned and managed by an
                     organization, but also any external systems with which they interface.

                     In August 1998, we reported that FAA’s draft end-to-end test program plan
                     was not sufficiently detailed to provide an understanding of how the
                     agency planned to accomplish this testing.8 Since that time, however, FAA
                     has developed a detailed end-to-end testing strategy and plans.

                     FAA’s end-to-end testing strategy related to the NAS focuses on systems
                     that directly support navigation, surveillance, weather, maintenance, and
                     air traffic control functions. While most of the systems that support these
                     functions are owned and managed by FAA, some tests include external
                     systems with which FAA systems interface, including commercial voice
                     and data telecommunications systems, National Weather Service systems,
                     and international air traffic control systems.

                      FAA Systems: Serious Challenges Remain in Resolving Year 2000 and Computer Security Problems
                     (GAO/T-AIMD-98-251, August 6, 1998).

                     Page 10                                                            GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
FAA established plans for, and is in the process of conducting, three types
of Year 2000 end-to-end testing: system integrity testing, operational
demonstration, and field site testing. The system integrity test involves
testing groups of systems that together make up a core function to ensure
that data are processed correctly. FAA has identified groups of systems
that support weather processing, communications, flight- and radar-data
processing, and remote maintenance monitoring. The results of these tests
are to be analyzed to ensure that inputs and outputs are processed
correctly across interfaces.

FAA has completed two system integrity tests using systems that have
passed individual systems testing, although these systems have not
necessarily completed all of the steps necessary to complete validation.
FAA plans to complete a third system integrity test by the end of this

The end-to-end operational demonstration simulates having aircraft pass
through all phases of flight using recorded data and tests the activities
associated with these phases—such as weather briefings, clearances,
aircraft tracking, rerouting, handoffs, and transfers. This test focuses on
FAA’s ability to continue intersystem and interfacility data communications
through the Year 2000 date change. FAA officials stated that they
completed this test last month, again using systems that had passed
individual systems testing but that had not necessarily completed all
validation activities.

Field site testing involves a demonstration of core NAS functions using
equipment at operational air traffic control facilities in order to
demonstrate that functional components at selected sites are reliable under
Year 2000 conditions. FAA plans to complete this testing in April 1999.

FAA officials reported that they have encountered no Year 2000 problems
thus far in any of their end-to-end tests and plan to issue a report on the
results of all three types of end-to-end testing in June. We are continuing to
review FAA’s end-to-end testing results.

Page 11                                                GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
Risks Associated With   In addition to the risks that its internal systems will malfunction or fail,
                        FAA is at risk that external systems will fail, thereby affecting its
External Partners       operations. Two prime areas of concern are airports and international
Could Affect Aviation   partners.

Many Airports May Not   The successful operation of the NAS depends, in part, on the equipment
Complete Year 2000      that airports use to carry out their operations. This equipment helps
                        provide safe, secure, and efficient aircraft operations and other services to
Activities in Time
                        the public; it includes controls for functions such as runway lighting,
                        monitoring access to secured areas, handling baggage, providing
                        emergency communications, and fueling aircraft. Because much of this
                        equipment is automated, it is at risk of Year 2000-induced failures and

                        We recently reported on the status of airports’ efforts to address the Year
                        2000 computing problem, based on a survey of 413 airports.9 While the
                        nation’s airports are making progress in preparing for the year 2000, such
                        progress varies among airports. Of the 334 airports responding to our
                        survey, about one-third reported that they would complete their Year 2000
                        preparations by June 30, 1999. The other two-thirds either planned on a
                        later date or failed to estimate any completion date, and half of these
                        airports did not have contingency plans for any of 14 core airport
                        functions.10 Although most of those not planning to be ready by June 30
                        are small airports, 26 of them are among the nation’s largest 50 airports.

                        According to FAA and airport officials, adequate safeguards are in place to
                        ensure the safety and security of the National Airspace System through the
                        Year 2000 date change. Specifically, FAA requires an airport to suspend or
                        restrict operations if it is unable to provide safety and security functions.
                        Yet, airport officials stated that they would be unlikely to suspend or
                        restrict operations should an automated system malfunction or fail,

                            2000 Computing Crisis: Status of Airports’ Efforts to Deal With Date Change Problem
                        (GAO/RCED/AIMD-99-57, January 29, 1999).

                         Our questionnaire focused on 14 core airport functions: access control, administration, airfield
                        operations, airport services, baggage handling, communications, environmental systems, facilities
                        maintenance, fuel services, ground support and ramp services, navigational aids, parking, ramp
                        operations, and weather services.

                        Page 12                                                                 GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
                            because the airport could usually resort to manual operations. However,
                            they also noted that if manual procedures are substituted for operations
                            normally controlled by automated equipment, an airport’s efficiency—its
                            ability to handle its normal number of scheduled flights per day—could
                            decrease and cause flight delays. Delays at one airport could cause delays
                            at other airports and eventually reduce the efficiency of the entire National
                            Airspace System.

International Activity Is   American international carriers operate in over 90 countries and at over
Continuing                  200 foreign airports; similarly, over 125 foreign carriers cross FAA-
                            controlled airspace. FAA lacks the authority and resources to ensure
                            compliance of any foreign air traffic control system, but it nevertheless
                            retains responsibility for ensuring safe, reliable aviation services for
                            American travelers into 2000 and beyond.

                            FAA’s Year 2000 international management team has been active. FAA is
                            sharing information with its foreign counterparts and assisting them in
                            addressing Year 2000 issues, such as business continuity and contingency
                            planning. FAA is also actively working with the International Civil Aviation
                            Organization to obtain Year 2000 status information on its international
                            counterparts, and is prioritizing countries based on perceived risk in order
                            to determine the level of end-to-end testing to be performed with these
                            countries. FAA intends to complete international end-to-end testing with
                            several countries by October 1, 1999, and plans to test interfaces with other
                            countries after this date at their request.

                            FAA’s Year 2000 international manager stated that FAA will provide status
                            information on individual countries to the State Department to help
                            develop travel advisories for at-risk countries. The State Department
                            intends to issue such travel advisories later this year.

Comprehensive               Because of the risk of anticipated and unanticipated failures—whether
                            from internal systems or due to reliance on external partners and
Business Continuity         suppliers—a comprehensive business continuity and contingency plan is
and Contingency             crucial to continuing core operations. FAA drafted a Year 2000 Business
                            Continuity and Contingency Plan in December 1998 and is currently
Planning Is Crucial         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.

                            Page 13                                               GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
                   We reviewed the draft plan and found that it does not yet fully address
                   several broad failure scenarios that could affect aviation operations,
                   including simultaneous Year 2000-related failures of systems across the
                   country, widespread power outages, or failures of interfacility
                   telecommunications. The plan relies on FAA’s current way of handling
                   such problems at a single facility—by having adjoining facilities support
                   the failed facility. This approach may not be appropriate should Year 2000-
                   induced failures affect adjoining facilities. However, FAA’s Year 2000
                   program manager stated that the agency plans to determine whether
                   current contingency plans are sufficient to address widespread outages.

                   FAA is also working to address a concern with its plan that was voiced by
                   the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) over 8 months
                   ago. At that time, NATCA officials stated that the contingency plans for
                   certain FAA facilities do not adequately define the role of the air traffic
                   controller. NATCA officials explained that should some “worst case” Year
                   2000 scenario occur—such as a critical facility’s losing all power—FAA
                   contingency plans require surrounding facilities to take over the air traffic
                   control responsibilities of the failed facility. However, the contingency
                   plans do not specify how the surrounding facilities would assume or
                   perform these responsibilities. For instance, it is not clear which
                   controllers would pick up which sectors of airspace, or even what
                   information would be available to them.

                   Last month, FAA’s air traffic operations division requested that regional air
                   traffic division managers work with facility managers and NATCA
                   representatives to ensure that facility contingency plans contain sufficient
                   detail to fully inform air traffic controllers of their respective roles and
                   responsibilities, and to provide them with the necessary information to
                   meet those responsibilities. This effort is to be completed by April 30, 1999.

                   This concludes my statement, and I would be happy to respond to any
                   questions that you or other members of the Subcommittees may have at
                   this time.

(511721)   Leter   Page 14                                                GAO/T-AIMD/RCED-99-118
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