FAA Alaska

Weak Controls Resulted in Improper and Wasteful Purchases Gao ID: GAO-02-606 May 30, 2002

GAO reviewed purchasing controls and activities within the Airway Facilities Division of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Alaska. This unit, referred to as AFA, is responsible for maintaining airway navigation and communication equipment throughout the state. AFA implemented a pilot program in March 1997 called the Corporate Maintenance Philosophy (CMP) that reduced periodic maintenance and certification requirements for equipment, thus allowing AFA to work with fewer staff. Under this program, AFA's funds originally intended for payroll compensation and benefits were freed for use on capital improvements and an employee recognition system. However, AFA did not have good internal controls. GAO reviewed 150 purchases made in fiscal years 1999 through 2001. Of these, 118 did not comply with one or more FAA purchasing requirements. AFA's highly decentralized operating environment made it susceptible to internal controls weaknesses and improper or wasteful purchases. FAA headquarters in Washington, DC, provides little oversight of spending practices, and regional officials in Alaska have no oversight authority over AFA's practices. AFA personnel work in various locations, with more than half having agency credit cards. GAO found that most cardholders received no training on the use of these cards. Although CMP ended in 2001, AFA remains vulnerable to the problems GAO identified because the specific control weaknesses continue to exist. Management's commitment to addressing and correcting them is necessary to reduce AFA's vulnerability to improper and wasteful expenditures.


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