GAO Sees User-fee Option for Funding ATC

 - November 15, 2006, 8:30 AM

While the debate continues over how best to fund the next-generation air transportation system, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is of the opinion that “given the diverse nature of the FAA’s activities, a combination of alternative [funding] options may offer the most promise for linking revenues and costs.” In a study released last week, the GAO stated that among the alternatives that the FAA should consider are “user fees.” The GAO apparently is not a fan of the current excise tax system. It said in the study that trends over the past 25 years “suggest that the revenue collected under the current funding system has fallen and will continue to fall.” But business aviation users support the current excise tax system because they believe it has been successful in funding the FAA, has low administrative costs and distributes the tax burden in a reasonable manner. Others (including the FAA, according to the GAO) state that under the current system “there is a disconnect between the revenues contributed by users and the costs those users impose on the ATC system.”