During a House Aviation Subcommittee hearing on FAA realignment and facility consolidation today, U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL) urged the FAA to actively seek input from affected employees as it considers consolidations. The Subcommittee heard testimony from David Grizzle, Chief Operating Officer of the FAA's Air Traffic Organization; Ms. Lou Dixon, Principal Assistant Inspector General for Auditing and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General; and Paul Rinaldi, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
Costello made it clear that he supports planning for consolidations, but that to truly create efficiencies and see budget savings, this process must include workforce input:
"Additionally, I would continue to urge FAA management to include the input of its workforce in developing its consolidation plans as the law requires," said Costello. "Large-scale consolidations will require the movement of thousands of employees and their families. In many instances, the FAA's management will need to negotiate potentially contentious issues with the FAA's unions. FAA leadership should proactively engage the agency's workforce, build consensus and head off potential pitfalls and delays."
Costello also expressed concern that insufficient FAA capital funding levels could hamper the consolidation process:
"Mr. Chairman, last year I warned that if we authorized capital funding levels that were too low in the FAA bill, we could hamstring facility consolidation efforts. In fact, the FAA estimates that its required capital expenditures, including the costs of consolidation, will greatly exceed the funding that Congress provided in the FAA bill for the next few years .Looking forward, if the funding levels in our recently enacted FAA bill are not adequate to support consolidation efforts, Congress may need to revisit this issue and provide additional funding for the FAA through the appropriations process."