FAA Poorly Managed NextGen Funding

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A new report this month from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) says the Federal Aviation Administration lacked effective management controls over the “project level agreements (PLAs)—an internal control mechanism for documenting the agreed-upon work and managing project execution” for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). This program was implemented to meet the FAA’s goals of modernizing the National Airspace System.

The report looks at how the agency managed the more than $7 billion per year that has been appropriated since 2008 for that purpose. The House Committee on Appropriations directed the OIG “to examine how those investments were managed and what outcomes have been achieved to improve the Nation’s air transportation system.”

The OIG says the audit objectives were to assess the FAA’s procedures for selecting and justifying projects that received funding and overseeing the projects. Their findings were that the agency has lacked effective management controls in its PLA process. Some of their findings include:

The FAA had not defined which types of projects are eligible for developmental work and lacked standard operating procedures for PLAs until 2016, eight years after beginning to use PLAs.

The FAA’s Office of NextGen also had not effectively executed and measured the outcomes of NextGen developmental projects, including tracking expenditures by PLA and obtaining deliverables for PLA projects.

Finally, the FAA has lacked a clearly established framework for managing the overall oversight of developmental projects and addressing persistent problems. 

The report offered six recommendations and the FAA has responded. Part of the issue stems from lack of leadership at the top of the FAA. “There have been 13 confirmed or acting heads of the FAA since the precursor of NextGen was proposed as the Advanced Automation System in 1983,” The Washington Post reported last week, and the agency has been without its top leader since Administrator Michael P. Huerta stepped down in January.

Comments (7)

Your tax dollar at work.

Posted by: April Talmadge | March 12, 2018 10:36 AM    Report this comment

"had not effectively executed and measured the outcomes of NextGen developmental projects"

It doesn't matter if it's worth it or not because it's just a heck of a lot of fun to spend other people's money. This is especially true when doing so means you get to play with shiny new computers and other assorted toys.

Posted by: Ken Keen | March 12, 2018 10:59 AM    Report this comment

"... lack of leadership at the top of the FAA." Heck, I've been 'spewing' that for YEARS !!! I'm surprised that the forum pavilion didn't float away from hot air lift when the 'Meet the Boss' forums occurred at Airventure. In all my adult life, I've never heard more bull than during those presentations.

Oh well ... at least I'm now compliant ... sure hope they don't cancel the whole idea, though.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | March 12, 2018 11:12 AM    Report this comment

Since reporters won't ask the mighty FAA (NextGen) the big question I will over and over and over;

"What is the model air traffic plan for thousands of drones and aircraft in the same airspace?"

Cities around the world are planning Air UBER and pizza delivery at low altitude among very large buildings and towers. My first encounter with the NextGen team made it quite obvious that they had no plan. The many airshow encounters I've had with them over the years, their answer to everything is a colorful flyer and the website. I spoke with a number of aviation reporters and asked them to explain the future air traffic solution and they told me to read the website.

So, the future of air traffic control is so complicated that only a NextGen website can explain it. It can't be explained to a pilot verbally. Can anybody out there find the answer in the all informative website and put it in laymen terms?


Posted by: Klaus Marx | March 12, 2018 12:29 PM    Report this comment

NextGen is a complete boondoggle, ostensibly perpetrated by Boeing lobbyists who have a satellite-based system that they have deployed in many nations worldwide. NextGen proposes to replace FAA radar sites, that verify the TRUE location of aircraft by bouncing radio signals off of them, with a space-based satellite communications system that relies on GPS equipment aboard the aircraft to report their alleged position.

Satellite signals are weak and subject to being overwhelmed by strong ground-based radio signals potentially perpetrated by malicious entities. Further, satellite signals are subject to disruption by solar coronal mass ejections, and the entire space-based satellite system introduces a whole host of potential hazards and weakens the world's premier air traffic control system.

Hat's off to those in the FAA who have delayed progress on the NextGen boondoggle.

Posted by: Larry Dighera | March 12, 2018 12:41 PM    Report this comment

The biggest trick Government has sent up for itself is lack of accountability for anything, ever. Think I am kidding? If you have a 401K and the Administrator is doing wrong the US Department of Labor "shares" responsibility with the IRS over the matter. That means you can file paper, write your congresscritter, call the DOL and the IRS until your cell phone dies and they will do absolutely nothing of value to help you. Look at Lois Learner and the IRS. Look at hillary's 30,000 missing emails. Why would we think the FAA is operated in any other manner.

They enforce against the little guy crucifying them and the hogs with millions of dollars get fed more dollars, your dollars.

Posted by: bruce postlethwait | March 12, 2018 5:45 PM    Report this comment

They got some sssssplainin' to do.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | March 14, 2018 5:46 PM    Report this comment

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