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FAA bungles $36 Billion NextGen project

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FAA bungles $36 Billion NextGen project

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Old 13th Mar 2018, 18:17
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FAA bungles $36 Billion NextGen project

WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration has mismanaged a $36 billion project to modernize the antiquated aviation management system, according to a harshly critical inspector general’s report released Thursday.

It was the fourth inspector general’s critique in as many years of a program known as NextGen, on which more than $7 billion in federal funds has already been spent.

This latest report says the FAA lacks “a clearly established framework for managing the overall oversight of NextGen.”

Much of the 50-page report — done for the House Appropriations Committee and prepared by Matthew Hampton, assistant inspector general for aviation audits — focuses on specific program mismanagements.

The report said the FAA “has lacked effective management controls” in awarding contracts, sometimes spent money on low-priority projects, and allocated an estimated $370 million for projects that were still awaiting approval.

The FAA denounced the findings as “inaccurate and contradictory,” rejecting all but two of its six recommendations.


https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-...llion-project/
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Old 13th Mar 2018, 18:50
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Taked with a Ft Worth center controller a few weeks back. He said ZFTW is planning on having CPDLC next March. Kansas City is supposed to go active this fall. Talked with a retired pilot I work with, he said he was a FAA guinea pig for testing CPDLC at their Atlantic City tech center 15 years ago.
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Old 13th Mar 2018, 18:52
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Would this fiscal fiasco happen if the air traffic control section of the F.A.A. been privatised ?
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Old 13th Mar 2018, 20:29
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Guaranteed. But at double or triple the price.
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Old 13th Mar 2018, 21:02
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A0283
Not necessarily. The 787 fumble was a direct result of horrible management decisions - not general incompetence (remember, I was pretty close to that one).
The US Government has shown a dramatic incompetence when it comes to IT type functions (recall the original Obama care website fiasco? - they had nearly unlimited budget, and nearly four years to develop a website that Amazon could have done in six months - and it STILL didn't work?)
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Old 13th Mar 2018, 22:34
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Originally Posted by underfire View Post
WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration has mismanaged a $36 billion project to modernize the antiquated aviation management system, according to a harshly critical inspector general’s report released Thursday.

It was the fourth inspector general’s critique in as many years of a program known as NextGen, on which more than $7 billion in federal funds has already been spent.

This latest report says the FAA lacks “a clearly established framework for managing the overall oversight of NextGen.”

Much of the 50-page report — done for the House Appropriations Committee and prepared by Matthew Hampton, assistant inspector general for aviation audits — focuses on specific program mismanagements.

The report said the FAA “has lacked effective management controls” in awarding contracts, sometimes spent money on low-priority projects, and allocated an estimated $370 million for projects that were still awaiting approval.

The FAA denounced the findings as “inaccurate and contradictory,” rejecting all but two of its six recommendations.


https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-...llion-project/
The FAA has a miserable reputation for conducting acquisition programs. That said, it’s a lot easier to find fault than it is achieve meaningful results. The inspectors from the IG and GAO ought to spend a few years on the other side of the counter, and if they can show meaningful results then become auditors again.
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Old 14th Mar 2018, 00:05
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Originally Posted by GlobalNav View Post
The FAA has a miserable reputation for conducting acquisition programs.
That is absolutely true with all federal agencies. As @tdracer stated, the Federal Government is simply incompetent in IT acquisition. If you want another example, look at the absolute confusion generated by the DoD's billion dollar JEDI and REAN cloud computing contracts. When you hold an industry day and companies like IBM, MS, Oracle walk out shaking their heads that just about says it all....And even after a successful award (such as the IC contract with AWS), the cultural resistance and micro-management in migrating to commercial vendors and current technologies is extreme. The gov't believes they can save taxpayer dollars and fix everything with these incredibly large IT mega-contracts - one size fits all solution to all agency problems. It hasn't worked in the past and doesn't work now.
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Old 14th Mar 2018, 00:51
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AO283,

tdracer makes a valid point. As good as a lower level manager might be in the success of a program, he/she is dependent on the knowledge, experience, support and proper execution of top level management, e.g., the CEO. That didn't happen on the 787 program. The CEO of Boeing at that time should have known what was needed to run a complex international program involving many suppliers worldwide. If he had learned anything from his previous aerospace employer, he would have known what was required. But, he didn't, because he just isolated himself away from where the action was as he did at his previous employer, incompetence in my IMHO...

Last edited by Turbine D; 14th Mar 2018 at 00:53. Reason: added wording
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Old 14th Mar 2018, 10:42
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Confused. The FAA has mismanaged a $36 billion project by spending $7 billion? Where is the other $29 billion? Allocated but unspent? Still to be allocated? What is the timeframe here? 6 months?, a year, 10 years ... ???

To me the first figure is irrelevant. The second is only relevant if the work so far has been a complete waste of time.
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Old 14th Mar 2018, 13:31
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Just try to get RNP AR procedure approved.
Add to the mix, the cert time and processes for simple avionics upgrades or technology updates.
Meetings after meetings for years on simple things such as wake turbulence...

The big question remains, what was accomplished for $7 billion?
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Old 14th Mar 2018, 16:58
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As soon as large government infrastructure and IT projects are released, the usual suspects emerge from the hay having slept off their previous meal at the feeding trough. For some reason performance targets on government contracts are linked neither to the gonads of the chief executives of corporation performing the work nor the pensions of the staff in the authorising agency. So hear we have another monumental waste of cash. In the UK it is the thieves of the likes of Capita, Carillion, IBM, Serco, Accenture etc. who prey on government agencies to boost their bonuses and regularly deliver nothing. It’s good to see it’s the same on the other side if the pond.
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Old 14th Mar 2018, 19:20
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Originally Posted by evansb View Post
Would this fiscal fiasco happen if the air traffic control section of the F.A.A. been privatised ?
Yes, but it would have been a $360 billion bungle instead of "ONLY" $36 billion.

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Old 14th Mar 2018, 20:28
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Originally Posted by evansb View Post
Most of the advanced economies of the world see air traffic control as a business.
That doesn´t mean it´s better, cheaper or more customer-oriented.

Our "business oriented" provider is not able to publish more than a few new RNP/RNAV/whatever-you-call-them approaches per year, let alone at a former VFR-only airfield. Instead we replace VORs, even build new ones, and try to develop complex and expensive 4-D-systems that can cope with approach airspaces that can already be operated at peak-runway capacity using paper strips only.

How´s the plan for NextGen regarding the TRACONs? Will they also get this new system?
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Old 14th Mar 2018, 21:15
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Originally Posted by evansb View Post
Why does it run the airways?
Because it's a public good that crosses state lines. Interstate commerce clause, and all that.
Civics 101, now go rant about something else.

As to the topic of this thread, I am not surprised to see the GAO get annoyed at the FAA over a massive project like this. Based on what I learned in the DoD with large IT intensive systems, the government is a very slow and inefficient organization that cannot buy things piecemeal, they have to acquire them in these large muscle movements for many reasons. One of the ones I ran into over a decade ago: NMCI. (Lord, was that painful).
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Old 14th Mar 2018, 22:30
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Originally Posted by Lonewolf_50 View Post
One of the ones I ran into over a decade ago: NMCI. (Lord, was that painful).
It still is and even more so! And to pat everyone on the back, the pitifully performing incumbent commercial company that had that beauty of a contract won NGEN. I walked out of a brief on NMCI/NGEN with my jaw on the floor. I'd say I would be grateful that we do it all with organic gov't labor on this side of the fence, but unfornately email and web access work so sparingly I'd never be able to get that message out.
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Old 14th Mar 2018, 23:15
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Originally Posted by evansb View Post
Ranting? I though I was presenting a cogent argument. Regardless, should Canada and Australia go back to a federal government run system ? Should Air Canada revert to a Crown Corporation? These are not rhetorical questions nor sarcasm. They are mere questions.
First, moving to/from privatized to/from gov't run or vice versa is non-trivial. Second, go back to the 1950's and you cannot compare air traffic in the US with Australia or Canada. Two high profile mid-airs between UA/TWA and UA/USAF along with several others within a few years drove the decision to impose standards and equipment nationwide. That was at the time viewed as a gov't responsibility. Still is. Hard to change the political reality.
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Old 14th Mar 2018, 23:33
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Originally Posted by Chronic Snoozer View Post
Guaranteed. But at double or triple the price.
Except that facts and history tell a different story. Private education (private schools in the US) cost substantially less when compared to public schools per stident per year. And don't get me started on the quality of education in public schools.
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Old 15th Mar 2018, 02:23
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Folks,
Just to be clear, Airservices Australia is a Commonwealth Government owned entity,(it is not privatised CNS/ATM/RFFS) and many of us would suggest it embodies all the worst characteristics of a monopoly commercial operation and a public service department, with the benefits of neither.
It is completely union dominated.
The long running (many years) One Sky "upgrade" program is years behind schedule, and as for cost, don't start me!!
Tootle pip!!
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Old 15th Mar 2018, 10:06
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The US Government has shown a dramatic incompetence when it comes to IT type functions
Trust me on this; the US Government is not alone. In the UK, the probability that every single foray by a Government or quasi-Government organisation into a technology-led project will fail miserably at huge expense is 100%.

In the UK, this is due to a toxic mixture of simple incompetence at lower and middle levels, inability among more senior managers and politicians to understand (a) technology and (b) how to manage a project, corruption in contractors and the Civil Service (including the "revolving door" when senior civil servants, and ex-Ministers, are given grossly overpaid sinecures (aka Non-Exec Directorships) for life as a reward for awarding contracts.)

And the last ingredient is the self-serving and useless "consulting" industry, exploiting the Government's inability to do the work themselves and their need to have a scapegoat when they screw up. This need is satisfied by "Consultants" who take zillions for producing work that could be written by a 15-year old with a couple of O-levels, who understands the need to find out what the client wants the report to say and write it. (Yes, indeedy, I did that very lucratively for 20 years.)

(CBA anyone? What would you like it to prove? I'll set the assumptions to deliver just that. I admire the work done on HS2 in that respect, although to achieve the desired result some of the assumptions had to be set at values that are so implausible that they defy rational belief.)

Last edited by old,not bold; 15th Mar 2018 at 10:24.
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