FSS Outsourcing Upheld

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The FAA's decision to outsource flight service stations to Lockheed Martin has been upheld by a contract appeals judge. Judge Edwin Neill recommended FAA Administrator Marion Blakey deny bid protests from within her own organization and from the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists alleging procedural errors, bias and favoritism in the process that resulted in Lockheed Martin's winning the $1.9 billion contract in February. It's the largest and most complex outsourcing process ever undertaken by the agency. However the judge's decision could be moot if some in Congress have their way. The House has already passed a Homeland Security appropriations bill that would prevent the FAA from implementing the outsourcing and now Sen. Joe Lieberman, a prominent Connecticut Democrat, is trying to get the Senate to include similar language in its version of the bill. He said the judge's decision "will downgrade critical services for private pilots" while AOPA and other aviation organizations have been generally supportive of the outsourcing plan and the modernization requirements it contains.