According to Matthew G. Hampton, Assistant Inspector General for Aviation Audits, it is time again to “assess FAA’s procedures for (1) selecting, justifying, and measuring the outcomes of projects that received developmental funding, and (2) overseeing the execution of these projects.” The author of the AinOnline article linked below states that this review is “the latest of the nearly two dozen OIG investigations into the FAA’s oversight of or the progress of the next-generation ATC system.” Query whether so many audits on almost exactly the same issue over a relatively short period of time?
 In contrast to past such reviews, this one is self-initiated by the OIG
Not quite a year ago (September 22, 2014), in response to the Senate Committee with jurisdiction over FAA authorization, the same organization performed an update of the OIG’s 2012 Report on “(1) formal changes FAA has made to program scope, including costs and schedules, and (2) adjustments in FAA’s anticipated benefits with respect to reducing Agency costs and improving the flow of air traffic.” That followed a similar audit in 2009 on the same issues.
In addition to these broad systematic assessments, the IG has also filed major reports on:
- STARS, a major subsystem of NextGen designed to automate terminals,
- ADS-B, the critical links among the ATC land facilities, the satellite-based navigation system and aircraft
- ATCOTS, Air Traffic Control Optimum Training Solution
- Its Transformational Programs
- Their site specific deployment
- Information Technology Controls at TRACONS
- Cost Increases, Schedule Delays, and Performance Shortfalls for Terminal Modernization, and
- A multitude of other technical, economic, leadership and acquisition management issues.
This is an abbreviated list of OIG audits of NextGen; there is a host of other subjects (safety, ATC operations, airports, capacity/delays, management & finance).
The AinOnline writer suggests that the initiation by the OIG of Project 15A3005A000 may be timed to provide information for Congress in its consideration of Reauthorization. It seems as though the OIG has devoted so much attention of its green-shaded auditors to “oversight” that some of the FAA staff may have been reassigned from working on NextGen to answering the OIG’s constant flow of reports.
The frequency of these assessments may exceed the ability of any agency to implement the last OIG recommendation. As well intended as these critiques may be, at some point the process of responding to the recommendations may actually be one of the reasons why the FAA is slow in implementing NextGen.
Maybe Congress, the OIG, the GAO and the FAA can agree to some regular cycles of these audits. Such a schedule may provide the FAA adequate time to consider the proposed recommendations and actually to translate them into actual practices.
Or better yet, maybe it is time for a one year moratorium on all audits of NextGen.
So many insights into the FAA are tantamount to being onsite?