GAO blasts FAA systems project

The Federal Aviation Administration cannot manage the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System effectively because it does not keep track of the project's costs accurately enough, according to a report released by the General Accounting Office this week.

The report, National Airspace System: Better Cost Data Could Improve FAA's Management of the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, is the second criticism GAO has made of the management of STARS in the last six months. The project is a major piece of the National Airspace System, which processes primary and secondary radar information for air traffic controllers to track aircraft.

GAO said FAA's lifecycle cost estimate for STARS is based only on projections provided by lead contractor Raytheon Co., so the flight agency cannot be sure of its accuracy. Auditors said FAA should work with Raytheon to include new requirements and costs in cost performance reports.

The costs for completing STARS development and deployment, operations, maintenance and upgrade for 74 systems will amount to about $2.54 billion from 2004 through 2030, the report said.

The FAA said it was already working to improve technical performance of the systems when the report came out. 'Now we're working to get the business management up to par,' said Rebecca Trexler, an agency spokeswoman.

The agency has installed STARS at Philadelphia International Airport, and plans to deploy the system at 74 other facilities this year.

Click here to link to a PDF of the GAO report

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