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FAA Forcing Out Engineers to Hire ... Engineers? - (12/22/2008)

CONTACT:  NATCA Regional Vice President Mike MacDonald, 978-317-2852; NATCA National Office, Doug Church, 301-346-8245       

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Just a few weeks after having its reckless, beat-the-inauguration plan for moving hundreds of experienced engineers away from where they’re most needed exposed to public scrutiny, the Federal Aviation Administration appears to be preparing to add insult to this injury to the National Airspace System. This despite a new round of opposition led by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

In a Dec. 3 article on its employees web site entitled, “Dipping Into the Pool of an Experienced Workforce,” the FAA says it’s been selected to participate in a pilot program aimed at hiring replacements for those expected to retire in coming years. The article states that the FAA is “particularly interested in filling positions in finance/budget, engineering, safety inspection, human resources, acquisitions/contracting, information technology, operations research, program management, and administration.”

Engineering?

“It would certainly appear that the FAA, in trying to force out its experienced engineers who don’t want to relocate their careers and their families in such bad economic conditions, appears to be preparing to hire their replacements at what one can only suspect is much lower pay and obviously far less experience,” said NATCA Regional Vice President Mike MacDonald, who represents the FAA engineers stationed around the country, “in the field.” “We are troubled by the appearance here that experience and safety is taking a back seat to the agency’s failed ‘run it like a business’ approach.”   

This consolidation plan, dubbed by the FAA the “Engineering Services Efficiency Plan (ESEP)” marks a bold thumbing of the FAA’s nose to widespread Congressional opposition to the plan. The ESEP, which the agency has acted upon very quietly, without transparency or public statement, attempts to continue the FAA’s agenda of consolidating its employees into fewer offices with the effect of having fewer employees doing more safety-critical work. Last year, the FAA consolidated the Air Traffic Organization’s administrative and technical support services. In 2006, the FAA consolidated financial accounting services at the regional offices. Eventually, NATCA fears this will mean the consolidation of the nine FAA regional offices into three, which would then be unrealistically expected to serve all 50 states with the same level of high performance.   Last Friday, Congresswoman Waters sent a letter to FAA Air Traffic Organization Chief Operating Officer Hank Krakowski, requesting that the FAA suspend efforts to implement the ESEP. Wrote Congresswoman Waters: “As your Agency prepares for a leadership transition, it is important to recognize that the President-elect has opposed the current plan. Since it is unlikely that the new administration will carry out ESEP, a better use of governmental resources would be to defer any realignment efforts until after the President-elect has taken office, his Administration outlines its aviation priorities, and the Congress enacts a comprehensive reauthorization of the FAA.”      

To read the full letter, please click here.

In January, 35 members of Congress – including Congresswoman Waters – sent a letter to FAA Acting Administrator Robert Sturgell that stated the consolidation of engineering services “would compromise the safety of air travel in the regions of the United States served by these offices. Safe and efficient air travel requires engineering and support services that are accessible and convenient for the airports and air travelers that rely on them.”            

The members of Congress told Sturgell, “the FAA should not move forward with plans to consolidate the regional offices without Congressional consultation and oversight. Therefore, we recommend that you suspend all plans to consolidate the FAA’s engineering services and consult with Members of Congress regarding the future of the FAA’s regional offices and the services performed by these offices.”??  ??             

To read the letter in its entirety, please go here.


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