AIN Blog: Senator Unhappy with FAA Training Response

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Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill is not satisfied with the answer she received about FAA cost overruns on controller training.
July 27, 2012 - 11:08am

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill got a response from acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta after she questioned cost overruns on a contract to train air traffic controllers, but it wasn’t the one she wanted.

“Why bother responding if you’re only going to offer non-answers on how your agency has failed to meet its obligations, while continuing to waste taxpayer dollars,” asked McCaskill, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on contracting oversight. “The FAA’s actions are unacceptable, and I fully intend to hold Administration officials’ feet to the fire when I call them to answer these questions face-to-face.”

In a letter to Huerta last month, McCaskill requested information about an $860 million government contract with Raytheon Technical Services to help train new and current air traffic controllers. According to the first-term lawmaker, the program will run out of money next month, more than one year before the contract is due to end, and she questioned the FAA’s plan to extend the agreement by three years without fully addressing the problems that led to the cost overruns and performance shortfalls in the first place.

In a letter dated July 18, Huerta contended that the Air Traffic Control Optimum Training Solution contract has contributed to the FAA’s overall success in hiring 7,500 new air traffic controllers, but he acknowledged that the success “came with an unacceptable cost growth and that we did not effectively manage the contract in the past.”

McCaskill accuses Huerta of failing to adequately address the decision-making process and plans to prevent waste in the future, and she is vowing to call FAA officials to the Senate to answer those same questions in meetings with Senate Committee staff. She added that agency officials will also be expected to explain their decisions to reward Raytheon with more than $28 million in profit on the contract which, in addition to running out of money, has failed to achieve its original goals, including reducing costs, reducing training time or developing new and innovative training.

Currently in the midst of her first re-election campaign, McCaskill is the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Missouri, and she has used her subcommittee to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. She recently introduced the Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act, which she calls the most significant reform of wartime contracting standards in 60 years.

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Safetyminded
on July 28, 2012 - 2:15pm

What remains a mystery is why the Department of Transportation Inspector General will not release results of the audit requested by Senator McCaskill last year and due in May, 2012.

Word among knowledgeable Hill folks is that the OIG won't release it til after the election due to enormous political pressure being exerted by powerful lobbyists. Even the investigator in charge of the ATCOTS audit was recently changed.

Aviation safety has been put on the election finance chopping block for political money, and the flying public at impending risk.

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PHIL
on July 29, 2012 - 11:08am

As the FAA wastes millions on these types of contracts they are, at the same time, forcing veteran controllers into retirement as they reach the ridiculously early mandatory retirement age of 56. These controllers should be the backbone of the FAA's training program but instead they are being forced into early retirement and replaced by contractors.

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James
on July 30, 2012 - 10:52am

FAA, yet another agency that needs to be cleaned out from top to bottom. Safety isn't their goal, making everyone in the aviation community miserable is.

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Capt. Dan Gellert
on August 1, 2012 - 10:03am

What can we expect from Mike Huerta? A non-pilot - a non-ATC - a non-airport experienced individual, who has others write his letters and make his decisions.
The FAA has been in a free-fall for years, staffed with empty suits and skirts.

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Grady Jones
on August 3, 2012 - 5:09pm

The Senate should investigate this before the Huerta Confirmation Hearing begins again. Will he let Raytheon keep the contract, without the option to allow other contracters to bid on it and not excercise the option years? Will he allow the company, who he has previous ties to, to produce a bad product at an incredibly inflated price? Will he crack down on this waste of our taxpayer money? Why is this happening? Why did Raytheon get this business to begin with? Has anyone noticed the huge climb in controller errors? These are the questions we need to know--honestly.

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Your Name HereMachelikim.Enoch
on October 12, 2012 - 4:28pm

CSSOA, this is the an Organization now is control and work in hand with Civil Aviation Authority East African Community as a body which lounged few Weeks ago in Entebbe.Uganda as HQ for East African Civil Aviation Authority.. go the Website.http//:www.cassoa.org

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Sean
on November 13, 2012 - 9:59am

Yet another way to discourage the creation of jobs. I finished a 4-year degree to be an air traffic controller in January 2011. After waiting 18 months from my college graduation for a job with the FAA as an Air Traffic Controller, my training with the FAA was cancelled, without a new starting date. I'm in tens of thousands of dollars in debt and need to be trained to start my new career! Stop wasting time and let me start my new career!

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