By David Bauer, senior vice president of government relations, ARTBA

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) told members of Congress the 2011 two-week partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) led to the withholding of $2.5 billion in airport improvement projects.  The finding is part of a full GAO report on the impact of FAA budget uncertainty requested by House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).

The federal aviation programs have been extended 23 times since the 2007 multi-year reauthorization law expired in 2011.  The agency was also impacted in 2013 by government-wide spending cuts and a two-week government shutdown.  While most of the GAO report is focused on FAA operational activities and efforts to modernize the air traffic control system, it clearly demonstrates aviation infrastructure projects also suffer from repeated short-term extensions and disruptions of federal funding.  The aviation programs are currently operating under a six-month extension that is scheduled to expire in March 2016.

“This GAO report further highlights the need for Congress to take a comprehensive look at reforming the FAA after decades of budget uncertainty and inability to meet its critical deadlines,” Shuster said. “It’s clear that we need to come together to find a new path forward that ensures that Americans can travel our skies safely and more efficiently, and that U.S. aviation is globally competitive well into the future.”

Read the report.