Declining morale at the FAA could affect the way programs move, such as development of the next generation air transportation system (NextGen), according to a study by the Government Accountability Office, which notes the low morale could pose obstacles to FAA’s efforts to retain its existing workforce and recruit people with needed skills.
GAO’s study found the FAA ranks 214th out of 216 agencies as the best place to work in the federal government. This ranking is similar to the position held in a 2007 study. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), requested the study. He is minority leader of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and was chairman before Democrats took control of the body.
Mica called the FAA “rudderless” and said its personnel and salary policies have been “political footballs.” He referred specifically to the recently ratified contract between the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. He said this contract shows groups with political clout can extract huge salary increases, leaving behind thousands of other qualified workers. Under the new contract, air traffic controllers secured average base pay increases of between $9,300 and $45,600 over the next three years.
FAA employees are pleased with what they do but not satisfied with management, according to the study. About 85% of the employees said they are satisfied with the work they do but only 41% are satisfied with their involvement in decisions that affect that work. Just 36% are satisfied with the information they receive from management on what’s going on.
By fiscal year 2013, FAA projects that 38% of its employees who perform work critical to the FAA’s mission will be eligible to retire.