Press Releases

GAO Report Finds FAA’s Implementation of NextGen is On Budget, ATC Privatization May Jeopardize Modernization Efforts

Washington, DC, September 7, 2017

Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), the top-ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Aviation, and Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the top-ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, today reacted to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report finding the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) work to modernize the Nation’s aviation infrastructure and air traffic control (ATC) system is on budget and that ATC privatization may jeopardize modernization efforts.

“NextGen is on track and today’s GAO report shows it is also on budget,” said Larsen. “Plans to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system threaten the progress made by NextGen and threaten to derail a comprehensive, long-term FAA bill along with it.”

 “Today’s report confirms that light is at the end of the NextGen tunnel,” said DeFazio. “The GAO validated the fact that NextGen is within the cost range that the FAA predicted in 2007, refuting claims by FAA critics that NextGen is somehow over budget. Moreover, the GAO found that the controversial proposal by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration to privatize the air traffic control system and hand it over to special interests is, itself, a major challenge to continued NextGen implementation. Authorization of the FAA expires at the end of September. If Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration are serious about improving the air traffic control system, they should abandon their risky privatization proposal and get to work to pass a bill that will provide a stable and predictable funding stream for our aviation system.” To see DeFazio speaking about the report, click here.

Highlights of the GAO report include:

 • Although NextGen initiatives and programs have changed over time, the FAA’s 2016 cost estimates for the government and industry ($20.6 billion and $15.1 billion, respectively) are both within the range of 2007 cost estimates.

• Surface traffic operations at 39 of the 40 busiest airports in the United States have been improved by NextGen.

• The FAA has adopted an enterprise risk management approach—a “forward-looking management approach . . . to assess risks and opportunities”—to reduce risks among NextGen programs.

• The risk of privatization of the air traffic control system presents a major challenge to NextGen implementation.