A report released last week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticizes the FAA for lax program cost and schedule monitoring and control related to its air traffic control modernization effort. Of 30 NextGen programs the GAO examined, 11 have experienced cost increases over their original estimates by $4.2 billion, representing more than 60 percent of the agency’s total delay costs for these programs. Schedules were also affected in 15 out of the 30 programs, ranging from two months to more than 14 years, and averaging 48 months.
Top cost hogs were Waas and the Standard Terminal Replacement System (Stars), with initial startup estimates of $1 billion in 1998 and $940 million in 1996, respectively. Waas is forecast to be completed next year at a total cost of $3 billion, while Stars finished in 2007 for $2.7 billion. Though Stars was planned to provide 172 systems at nationwide Tracons and towers, in the end it supplied only 47.
As a consequence of the FAA’s poor cost and schedule monitoring and control, the GAO notably dedicated 90 of the report’s 150 pages to detailing precisely what data and actions related to its programs will be expected of the agency in the future.