It took 14 years, but the FAA and its ATC transformation plans have been dropped from the Government Accountability Office’s “bad government” watch list, that identifies programs at high risk for fraud, waste, and abuse.
Faced with growing air traffic and aging equipment, FAA launched an ambitious effort in 1981 to modernize its air traffic control system. Key projects, however, were plagued by cost overruns, schedule delays, and performance shortfalls. Because of the program’s expense-estimated at $36 billion-and its critical importance to safe and efficient air travel, GAO added FAA air traffic control modernization to the High-Risk List in 1995. GAO is removing this program from its 2009 High-Risk List because of FAA’s progress in addressing most of the root causes of its past problems and the agency’s commitment to sustaining progress. FAA’s efforts have yielded results, including deploying new systems across the country and incurring fewer cost overruns. GAO will continue to monitor the modernization as well as the transition to the planned satellite-based Next Generation Air Transportation System.