FAA outsources, creates PBO

ATS' collaborative pbICE is a map for converting to a performance-based organization

The Federal Aviation Administration has taken a significant step toward creating a performance-based organization (PBO) in its Air Traffic Services division with an outsourced collaborative business system.

The performance-based Integrated Collaborative Environment, known as pbICE, went online in October serving 650 users. The agency is planning to roll it out to 7,000 users by the end of the year and, eventually, to all of its 37,000 users, ATS CIO Rick Ford said.

FAA outsourced pbICE through an $8 million, fixed-price contract with Titan Secure Systems, a division of Titan Corp. of San Diego, for development and delivery of the system. Titan maintains the system through user fees of $1,150 per user per year.

'It's a significant change in direction' for ATS, Ford said. Through outsourcing, ATS avoided capital investments such as hardware and software. Ford also said he doesn't have to worry about 'technology creep' because Titan has the obligation to keep the system up to date.

'We've come a long way in getting our data structured,' Ford said.
The system is an integrated set of commercial tools that have been tailored for ATS, he said. It gives users a single point of access to applications and functions including knowledge management, program management, workflow automation, configuration management, performance measurement and financial management.

The system resides on a Hewlett-Packard Superdome server running Unix and connects to an Oracle8i database that ATS is upgrading to 9i, he said.

It uses a Web front end and gives users access, via either Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers, through FAA's intranet, said Tom Salahub, Titan's program manager for pbICE. 'The data and the applications are centralized,' which simplifies management and security, Salahub said.

It interacts with FAA's National Data Center, which Titan also designed and built.

What's in a name

Legislation establishing PBOs grew out of the Clinton administration's National Partnership for Reinventing Government. PBOs gain a measure of autonomy in exchange for setting strict performance standards'for such factors as customer service'and establishing measurable standards of accountability. To qualify as a PBO, an organization has to perform measurable services and have its metrics in place or under development.

In December 2000, an executive order gave FAA the green light to create its PBO, designated the Air Traffic Organization, combining ATS and its research and acquisition organization. 'We had our first meeting in January 2001,' Ford said. ATS selected Titan for the project in April last year.

A collaborative environment is essential to creating an organization tied to performance standards. 'You have everyone looking at the same information at the same time,' Salahub said. 'The emphasis is on performance measurement.'

Ford also said the biggest immediate benefit from pbICE has been 'ready access to all documents. The business processes are benefiting from a PBO standpoint.'

He predicted the system will save FAA money, but that it's too early in its development to quantify the savings. For now, he said, he's happy with the pace of the implementation and the performance of the system.

'We're pleased that we were able to get something to this extent online in nine months,' Ford said.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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