Key excerpts from Mica:
GOP: FAA should use more private resources for ‘NextGen’
The Federal Aviation Administration should seek more private money to build a new air traffic controller system, Republicans on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said Friday.
*Touting a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) saying that the FAA has not been completely successful “leveraging the research and technologies of its partners,” Committee Chairman Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) said the agency should do more to garner support among private companies.
“Given current budget constraints, it is critical that FAA maximize resources available through interagency and private sector partners for development of NextGen,” Mica said in a statement.
“The private sector nearly always performs better than government and can more effectively manage transition efforts like NextGen,” he continued. “The FAA should do all it can to leverage private sector capital and innovation in this critical infrastructure enhancement project.”
The FAA has long planned to switch the air traffic control system from radar technology that has been used since World War II to a satellite-based system. However, lawmakers cut about $200 million from the FAA’s budget that would have gone to the conversion this spring as they were working on a deal to avert a government shutdown this spring. (emphasis added)
What’s kind of interesting is that you might go and read the GAO report. If you did (and we did), you’d find that the report doesn’t say a single thing about private money, resources, or budget issues. It does say that technology and research transfers are not always effective; it does say that program goals are not identified; and it does say that internal budget processes do not allow for specific tracking of NextGen-specific costs.
The GAO report doesn’t say anything that supports Mica’s comments or The Hill’s headline. Take a look at the way they palmed the pea in the second paragraph, which starts with the word “Touting”.
Foundations are good at position papers and general themes, but are not known for effective prediction. (Not that anybody else is good at prediction either.) While we are loathe to prognosticate, here’s a thought:
Watch the upcoming debt-ceiling and budget Kabukis and look for the point at which some thoughtful quisling suggests, “Golly, instead of treating NextGen ATC like a cost that burdens the taxpayer, why don’t we solicit competitive bids from industry to see who will pay the most to operate the ATC system? Let’s move away from a taxpayer-funded, legacy cost-center perspective, and move into an industry-funded, profit-center paradigm. Gosh!”