Congressional Skepticism Grows Over FAA Fee Plans
User Fees May Further Slacken FAA Cost Control, Oberstar Says
Financing modernization of the ATC system over the next 10 years with user fees instead of excise taxes might make it too easy for FAA to pass cost overruns through to airlines, passengers and other system users, Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) believes.
Speaking as the House Transportation aviation subcommittee launched hearings on the Bush Administration's FAA reauthorization proposal, Oberstar linked the source of funds with the potential for loosened management reins.
"The pressure for efficiency will be much less if FAA can require airline passengers and system users to bear the burden of any cost overruns or delays in the modernization program," he said. "Instead, I believe that this Administration should have to come to Congress and seek additional funding if there are cost overruns or delays."
Panel Chair Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) took the same tack, expressing "grave reservations" about a system in which "FAA would have broad authority to raise fees to match whatever costs are incurred," and cited poor FAA management in past modernization programs.
The reauthorization proposal would permit FAA to reset fees every year to cover ATC operating and capital costs. The agency has said Congress would retain full oversight authority, however, presumably including annual appropriation of money raised from fees, fuel taxes and the general fund.
==================================================================My question on this is similar to questions raised by past Bush Administration actions: did they [i] really [/i] believe we wouldn't notice the huge disconnect between what they say and what they try to do?
The saga continues...