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Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

Final FAA Report

Federal Aviation Administration: Personnel Reform Effectiveness Assessment

The mission of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is to provide a safe and efficient aerospace system. As part of this mission, FAA regulates civil aviation to promote safety, encourages and develops current and new aviation technology, develops and operates a system of air traffic control and navigation for civil and military aircraft, researches and develops the National Airspace System and civil aeronautics, develops and executes programs to control the environmental effects of civil aviation, and regulates commercial space transportation.

The FAA carries out this mission in a dynamic environment defined by changing technologies and operational demands. To meet these challenges, and those of the future, the FAA needs to attract and develop the best and the brightest talent with the right leadership and technical skills. In 1995, Congress passed legislation exempting FAA from most provisions of title 5 and directed the agency to develop and implement a new personnel management system that would provide greater flexibility in hiring, training, compensation, and in the assignment of personnel to duty locations. In 1996, Congress directed that the new system be negotiated with its unions. The personnel management system reform effort at the FAA has been the subject of numerous implementation reviews. In recent years, external assessments have been done on specific human resources (HR) issues, in particular issues related to the air traffic control workforce, but none had taken a systematic look at FAA’s personnel management system.

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Key Findings

In June of 2016, the Office of Management and Budget requested that the FAA contract for an independent, third-party assessment of its personnel management system. The Academy’s assessment of FAA’s personnel management system was guided by two broad criteria:

  1. achieving the intent of the exemption from title 5 and
  2. cost-effectiveness of the agency’s personnel management system, including the role of customer organization staff in performing human resources activities.


The study team offers recommendations as part of an overall strategy for improving FAA’s personnel management system. This strategy is organized around four objectives:

  1. Strengthen the working relationships between AHR and customer organizations;
  2. Improve coordination of the classification and management of human resourcesrelated positions across the agency;
  3. Strengthen agency-wide workforce planning processes; and
  4. Develop a balanced, fiscally responsible approach to labor contract negotiations.

Study Fellows