Sen. Claire McCaskill is the latest politician to take a poke at the FAA, this time over an $860 million contract to train new and current air traffic controllers. According to the Missouri Democrat, who is chairman of the Senate subcommittee on contracting oversight, the program will run out of money by August, more than one year before the contract is scheduled to end.
“Call me old-fashioned, but a company that overcharges and underperforms is a company that deserves a pink slip and not a contract extension and more taxpayer dollars,” said McCaskill, whose first six-year term is ending this year.
The FAA awarded the Air Traffic Controller Optimum Training Solution (Atcots) contract in 2008 to defense contractor Raytheon to train veteran and future controllers, and to develop new and more efficient training methods. The contract has a base period of five years and was originally valued at $437 million.
On Sept. 30, 2010, the Office of Inspector General published a report that highlighted serious shortcomings in the contract for the Atcots program. Among the issues raised in the report were significant cost overruns, poor procurement practices and a lack of effective contract oversight. In its first two years, the Atcots contract exceeded baseline estimates by $46 million, and was not sufficient to cover promised innovations, including reduced training times and costs.
In letter to acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta on June 25, McCaskill demanded answers about soaring costs, huge overruns and poor performance by Raytheon. She also questioned the agency’s plans to extend the contract by three years without addressing the problems that led to the cost overruns and performance shortfalls in the first place.
The senator’s letter to Huerta is in response to new information provided by Inspector General Calvin Scovel III during his ongoing review of the contract, which was requested by McCaskill in 2011. The IG has found that the contract has failed to achieve its original goals, including reducing costs, reducing training time and developing new and innovative training.
The letter calls for the FAA to provide information regarding its decision-making process as well as documents regarding the award of incentive fees and bonuses to Raytheon during the life of the contract.
McCaskill told Huerta that accountability in government and safeguarding taxpayer money is something Missourians rightly expect. That goes for the rest of us in the other 49.