Mar 07 2013
Dr. Coburn sent the following letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood calling on the FAA to cancel upcoming conferences, freeze nonessential hiring and eliminate or reform low-priority programs before cutting costs that could impact flight safety.
Under sequestration, the required savings from the FAA is less than four percent or $600 million of the agency’s $15.9 billion budget. Meanwhile, the Office of Management and Budget has indicated, despite sequestration, the Department of Transportation will end this year with $34 billion in unobligated funds.
Dr. Coburn outlined the following immediate actions for FAA to take:
- Cancel upcoming conference and speaking events, which have in the past featured both FAA officials and Hollywood actors. An upcoming conference, the Second Annual Asia-Pacific Flight Standards Meeting, is currently scheduled for August.
- Freeze hiring of nonessential employees, such as "community planners" and "program assistants," both which FAA has recently advertised paying up to $129,095 and $59,000 respectively.
"While we value the work of everyone at the FAA, not every employee has duties critical to the immediate mission of the agency," Dr. Coburn said. "As such, we should give higher priority to those performing essential tasks over others who are not. Air traffic controllers, safety inspectors, and technicians should certainly receive the highest priority."
Dr. Coburn also outlined a number of reforms that have been suggested in the President's budget, by the Congressional Budget Office, as well as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that would save hundreds of millions of dollars:
- Eliminate funding for unnecessary “non-classified basic airports.” Many airports no longer fit the criteria for receiving funding, including 22 privately owned airports. This will save about $41 million.
- Reduce the FAA’s spending on consultants, supplies, and travel by 15 percent. This will save about $105 million.
- Reduce or eliminate spending on the Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP), 79% which have failed to fully achieve their objectives as reported by the FAA's own inspector general. This reform will save $6 million.
- Reduce Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants by $926 million, as outlined in the President’s FY2013 budget. This will save up to $926 million.
- Reduce or eliminate spending on the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, as reccomended by the CBO. This will save $118 million.