In February 2012, President Obama signed into law the reauthorization act for the FAA, entitled the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (H.R. 658). Accompanying the bill was a conference report which contained requests for studies to be completed by the National Academy of Sciences. Section 605 (b) of the legislation titled Workload of Systems Specialists, called for:
(1) Study - A study of the assumptions and methods used by the Federal Aviation Administration to estimate staffing needs for FAA systems specialists to ensure proper maintenance and certification of the national airspace system.
(2) Consultation - NAS to: a) consult with the exclusive bargaining representative certified under section 7111 of title 5, United States Code, and b) include recommendations for objective staffing standards that maintain the safety of the national airspace system.
(3) Report - Not later than 1 year after the initiation of the arrangements the NAS shall submit to Congress a report on the results of the study.
An ad hoc committee will conduct a study of the assumptions and methods used by the Federal Aviation Administration to estimate staffing needs for FAA systems specialists to ensure proper maintenance and certification of the national airspace system.. The committee will review available information on: (A) the duties of employees in job series 2101 (Airways Transportation Systems Specialist) in the Technical Operations service unit; (B) the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) union of the AFL-CIO; (C) the present-day staffing models employed by the FAA; (D) any materials already produced by the FAA including a recent gap analysis on staffing requirements; (E) current research on best staffing models for safety; and (F) non-US staffing standards for employees in similar roles. Additionally, the FAA will assist in the committee's efforts by identifying relevant stakeholder organizations and agencies and facilitating communication with them. Based on its analysis of the available information, the committee will produce a report that will include:
- A description and evaluation of current FAA staffing models and standards for systems specialists;
- Recommendations for objective staffing standards that will maintain the safety of the National Airspace System going forward; and
- Recommendations for the steps needed to transition from the current staffing models and approaches used by the FAA to the plans for staffing recommended by the committee.
Listing of this project in the National Academies Current Projects site