FAA Needs To Get Serious

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Wed April 10 2002, 04:21 PM
FAA Needs To Get Serious
The FAA Needs To Get Serious About Program Management
See also "Search for New FAA Chief Should Already Be Underway"
Frequently under fire for acquisition programs that are behind schedule and over budget, the FAA has, amazingly, failed to take a lesson in management reform from another agency that has also had its share of criticism--the Defense Dept.

The lesson: The breadth of skills required of a good program manager are too varied and complex to be learned on the job--they need to be learned in school. It is surprising that the agency attempting to modernize the nation's air traffic control system--with arguably "THE" most diverse interactions of computers, software and people--has the least progressive approach to buying the parts.

The Pentagon has improved, due largely to two steps. It established the Defense Systems Management College at Fort Belvoir, Va., in 1971, to educate people on the skills needed to manage acquisitions, and it stabilized leadership by requiring program managers to stay in the job for four years.

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Wed April 10 2002, 04:24 PM
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Search for New FAA Chief Should Already Be Underway
See also "The FAA Needs To Get Serious About Program Management"
The Bush Administration must start looking now for a new administrator for the FAA. In today's environment this is too important a position to wait until Jane Garvey steps down from her five-year post this August to locate a good nominee. By the time you do political fitness scrutiny, background checks, factor in summer recess and the usual Congressional scrubbing, the next 3-4 months will not be enough time to get a new FAA chief installed, unless the process starts immediately.
Garvey will be a hard act to follow, but this Administration has to start trying. I will be the first to admit I had deep reservations about Garvey when she took office four and a half years ago. However, I believe history will prove she did much more right than wrong. She started out by listening, then forming a consensus within the FAA on what needed to be done. Garvey's accomplishments include breaking the parochial logjam on ATC modernization, increasing the power of the Herndon command center--giving it control over the 20 separate centers--and giving oomph to the free flight program.

On the negative side, while she brought peace to the restive air controller workforce by a pay-scale increase, she also created a unionization movement at the FAA that stalled the pay-for-performance program within the agency.

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