Following up on a March 2021 review of the progress of the FAA’s next generation air transportation program (NextGen), the DOT Office of Inspector General (IG) has initiated another audit. As in the previous review, the IG will assess the funding, milestones, benefits, oversight, and status of recommendations of the FAA’s multibillion-dollar, multi-year complex infrastructure effort aimed at modernizing National Airspace System technologies and procedures.
The IG has audited the FAA on various aspects of NextGen nearly 70 times since its inception in 2002. In its 2021 audit, the IG concluded that NextGen’s “actual and projected benefits have not kept pace with initial projections due to implementation challenges, optimistic assumptions, and other factors.” According to that report, NextGen’s benefits achieved to date have been minimal and difficult to measure.
“Projections were optimistic about traffic growth and did not account for risk factors,” said Eric Soskin, DOT IG. “We also found that significant declines in air traffic due to Covid-19 have further extended the timeframe for realizing expected NextGen benefits.” In addition, prior IG NextGen-related work “has identified lessons that the FAA could use to improve NextGen delivery.”
The FAA concurred with the IG’s three recommendations made in 2021. “Accordingly, we consider all recommendations resolved but open pending completion of the planned actions.”