Promote and expand role of JPDO says US gov't watchdog

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US FAA officials should elevate and expand the role of the office responsible for coordinating the next generation air transportation system (NextGen), says a new paper released by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).

In a 10-page reply to lawmakers’ questions, the GAO recommends that the director of the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) be promoted to the rank of associate administrator, reporting directly to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey.

The JPDO director currently reports to the head of the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) despite a mandate to design NextGen independently.

“This change might also lessen what some stakeholders now perceive as unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape associated with decision-making and other JPDO and NextGen processes,” says the GAO.

In addition, the status of the JPDO office within the ATO structure “hinders its ability to interact on an equal footing with ATO and other partner agencies”, according to the agency. “Therefore, it is important for JPDO to have some independence from ATO.”

JPDO’s primary role as the NextGen coordinator also should be expanded to include an oversight mission over the efforts of partner agencies and industry, says the GAO.