Study Predicted Trouble With FSS Transition

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The plans that government contractor Lockheed Martin had in place for this spring to consolidate Flight Service Stations and implement new software were doomed to fail. That's the gist of the results from a study by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General that was released last week. The study was conducted from May 2006 to March 2007, just before the system began to experience major problems. The DOT OIG found "significant, inherent risks" associated with the consolidation phase of the transition, which is now underway. The planned six-month consolidation schedule was "extremely aggressive," the DOT Inspector General's report says. The schedule depended on deploying new software on time, and the software development was already behind schedule. Infrastructure issues were likely to arise in combining digital and analog networks. "Improvements are needed to ensure that the operational needs of users continue to be met," the report says. FAA officials said they would consent to the DOT OIG's requests to provide an update on the status of the transition through the end of April 2007, to ensure that Lockheed Martin has appropriate and feasible contingency plans in place during the transition, and to develop a means for monitoring customer service that is independent of Lockheed Martin.