Saturday, April 28, 2001
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and the co-chair of The Endowment for The Business of Government. We created the endowment in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. Find out more about the endowment by visiting us on the web at endowment.pwcglobal.com.
The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our conversation today is with Jane Garvey, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Ms. Garvey: Thank you very much. It's great to be here.
Mr. Lawrence: And joining us in our conversation is another PwC Partner, Carolyn Smith.
Ms. Smith: Thank you, Paul.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, Jane, a lot of people know about the FAA, from its control over the air traffic, but many people probably don't understand its additional roles and responsibilities. Could you give us some insight into what it is?
Ms. Garvey: Well, it's a very complex organization. We have about 47,000 employees at the FAA. And our fundamental mission, in fact our most important reason for being, is really the whole issue of aviation safety.
We regulate airlines, we set standards for manufacturers. So, really every part of the aviation world is touched by the FAA. General aviation is also something that we regulate and put rules in place for. So it's a very complex organization, but our primary mission is aviation safety.
Mr. Lawrence: How big is it and what are the skills of the people who work there?
Ms. Garvey: Well, there are a number of very technical people, for example, air traffic controllers, obviously, and they're the largest group. There are about 15,000 air traffic controllers, all, by the way, I think extraordinarily professionals. But they obviously have had some very specialized training for air traffic control.
We have a number of engineers, for example, technical people who are responsible for modernizing the system. We have technicians and, of course, we have inspectors who are out inspecting and providing the kind of oversight that we need for the airlines. So multiple skills, technical organization.
Ms. Smith: What are some of the other federal agencies that interact with yours in regulation of air traffic?
Ms. Garvey: Well, that's a great question because we actually do interact a great deal, obviously first and foremost with the Secretary of Transportation's office. So many of our policies, for example, are coordinated through the Secretary's office.
But we also work with EPA. There are a number of environmental issues that surface in aviation, particularly as you're thinking about new runways and new airports and so forth. So we deal with a number of the environmental agencies.
We, of course, deal with NASA, as well, because much of our research is developed hand in glove with NASA. So we really touch a wide number of agencies.
We, of course, interact with the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board. When there's an accident, it's the NTSB that really has the responsibility of investigating it. But they use our technical folks a lot, and we work very, very closely with them. So we deal with a number of the federal agencies.
Mr. Lawrence: Tell us about your career.
Ms. Garvey: Sort of what's a nice girl like me �? (Laughter)
I -- actually, like a lot of women of my generation -- I started in teaching. I got a very strong liberal arts background and taught at both the high school and the college level. Stayed at home for a little bit of time when my children were young, which was a great period, but became interested in transportation probably in the late '70s-early '80s.
I'm from a very rural part of Massachusetts. Western Massachusetts, Amherst. And transportation has a great effect, particularly on the quality of life issues, and I became very involved in some of the local transportation issues.
And when Michael Dukakis became governor in 1983, he asked if I'd join the Public Works Department as an associate administrator. He was particularly interested in getting people from other parts of the state and with different perspectives.
So I got hooked, frankly. Joined the Department of Public Works in '83 and became Commissioner of Public Works in the mid-'80s. Then into the '90s, became the Director of Logan Airport. So I've been part of or heading large public works agencies since about 1983/1984. So, pretty challenging. I think it's a wonderful, wonderful field.
Ms. Smith: Well, prior to the position you currently have, you were with the Federal Highway Administration.
Ms. Garvey: That's exactly right. I came to Washington in 1993 and was the deputy federal highway administrator. And then the acting administrator a period of time and then became the head of the FAA in 1997. So first, by the way, administrator to serve a 5-year term, which is, I think, great for the agency.
Ms. Smith: What types of differences have you found between the organization at the FAA, cultural differences, and those at the Federal Highway Administration?
Ms. Garvey: Well that's an interesting question. I think there are some similarities. Bureaucracies, I have to say, do sometimes tend to be more cautious and more conservative, and I think that was true at FHWA and FAA, as well. But I think both have a very, very high degree of technical expertise. I think in both agencies there's a high degree of professionalism. So I think that's a real positive, as well.
The FAA, in part I think because it is such a world leader in aviation, perhaps has a little more prominence than the FHWA has. But there are lots of similarities; a sort of need to set time lines, the need to put, you know, to focus your energies. It's very easy in the government to get pulled in 100 different directions, and so many of the same challenges are faced in both agencies.
Mr. Lawrence: Which of the positions you've held best prepared you for your present position?
Ms. Garvey: Well, I think it's really been sort of one step at a time. I mean, each step along the way -- I feel as though I've been very fortunate -- has laid a good foundation for the next one. Probably the great quantum leap for me was to go from education to being an associate commissioner in '83.
But from that point on, each one I think prepared me for the next step, and each one had its own set of challenges, but it's been -- I feel very, very fortunate, extraordinarily fortunate.
And, you know, in many ways, a good, strong liberal arts background and even the preparation that I had through teaching provided an interesting springboard for me, that need to really be persuasive. I mean, do you -- when you're teaching you certainly have to do that. Organizing your thoughts, being able to communicate, setting sort of a very focused agenda. You do that in teaching. So some of those same skills apply, but I feel very fortunate about the steps I've had along the way.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, when you describe your career I couldn't help but think about how the number of people who've worked with you has grown.
Ms. Garvey: That's right.
Mr. Lawrence: You're a teacher, perhaps one-on-one, on your own -- and as you've continued, did you ever constantly try to improve your skills in terms of leading such large groups?
Ms. Garvey: Oh, I think you're always both looking for ways informally and then formally. I've had some wonderful additional training at Harvard. When you're in Massachusetts, you get a chance to take advantage of some of those management courses, and they were always very, very helpful.
I spend a lot of time even now reading, you know, some of the management books and so forth, and spend a lot of time talking with my colleagues, other people who are in similar positions. And so I think you're always looking for ways to improve the skills that you have, hope that you're always growing.
Ms. Smith: In your many years of government service, what qualities have you observed as key characteristics of good leadership?
Ms. Garvey: Well, that's actually a question we talked about the other day with our management team, and I asked somebody who had been at the FAA for probably about 30 years, and there are a few of those, quite a few actually. And I said, 'what skill do you need today that you perhaps -- that might be different than, say, when you started?'
And I was very curious what he was going to say. And in some ways, I expected him to say, 'well, you know, you need a high degree of technical competence.' But he said -- he thought a little bit and he said. 'the most important skill I think is an ability to communicate, both what we do and also to be able to communicate that to Congress, to the public.' So, I think communication is very, very important.
I think an ability to really bring people together is becoming increasingly important. Engineers, for example, in the agencies that I've headed often tend to think in a kind of -- just, in a sense, in an isolated way. And I think more and more we're realizing how important teamwork is, and how important it is to be able to bring people together around a focused agenda.
Mr. Lawrence: We're talking with Jane Garvey of the FAA. This is The Business of Government Hour. We'll rejoin our conversation in just a few minutes. (Intermission)
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Today's conversation is with Jane Garvey, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. And joining me in the conversation is Carolyn Smith, another PwC partner.
Ms. Smith: Thank you, Paul. Jane, there are a number of management initiatives going on at the FAA and one of those is called Safer Skies. Can you talk to us a little bit about that?
Ms. Garvey: Well, yes, I can. Safer Skies is, I think, an extraordinarily important initiative. Aviation is so safe; we have a remarkable record in the country. And in a sense, that makes the issue of safety even more challenging because, in a sense, the low-hanging fruit has already been picked when it comes to safety.
So our challenge really is to get at some of the root causes. Our challenge is really to take the resources that we have and focus them in a way that will have the greatest impact.
The way we've always approached safety is to sort of look at historical data, if you will, and learn from accidents and so forth. This is really stepping that up even more and saying let's really establish our agenda based on what the data is telling us. Let's really look at data, both historical data and, even more importantly, let's look at precursors. And let's try to determine where we should put our resources, and we're doing this with industry. It's a really -- it's a new approach, but I think it's absolutely the right approach.
We know, for example, from looking at the data that some of the worst accidents or the greatest cause of accidents is what they call controlled flight into terrain. And so we have focused, in the last 2 years, a number of safety initiatives and regulations dealing with that issue.
So it is a much more focused way to approach the issue of raising the bar on safety. And I think doing it in a focused way like that is very important, but also doing it with industry is important, as well. So I'm very proud of that initiative, and I think it's absolutely the right approach.
The great challenge for us in the future is, as I said, to get out ahead of the accidents. And we've entered into a number of voluntary programs with the airlines where pilots and mechanics come forward with information without fear of punishment, so that we can gather data that we would not ordinarily have. And we are already beginning to sort of get out ahead of some issues because of the information that they're providing us with.
Mr. Lawrence: You mentioned Safer Skies, working with industry, and I wanted to ask about that partnership. What are the lessons learned from forming a partnership, and how do you make a successful one work?
Ms. Garvey: Well, it's not always easy, especially when you're both a regulator and then, in some cases, a collaborator. So it's a real challenge, and it's a balance that we have to strike that, I think that we're constantly, you know, looking at and measuring. There are some wonderful lessons.
For example, just again with Safer Skies, we put out a series of air-worthiness directives, and they are, in a sense, almost a regulation, something like a regulation. Because we worked so hard with industry before we developed those ADs they're called, when we finally put those in the Federal Registers there were very, very few comments, very few criticisms, if you will, because people had worked hard on it, there was a sense of collaboration.
It's obviously in the airlines' interest, as well, to have the safest possible practices. So I think, in one sense, you end up with a much better product.
If you look at something like modernization, we have said, 'look, we've got customers to serve here.' It's ultimately the American people, but sort of the retail customer for us are the airlines. And so we want to decide what our agenda is together. In the past, I think the FAA has often taken off after some of the technologies that hasn't really -- it hasn't proven to be what the industry wanted. So we've said 'let's arrive at that agenda together.'
One great by-product of it is that Congress tends to fund those where they see industry and government standing together. They tend to fund those programs. And that's borne out for us in the last couple of budgets where they've seen a kind of constructive collaboration and said, 'yes, that's the direction that both industry and the FAA want to go; we'll fund those programs.'
Ms. Smith: Jane, one of the biggest challenges facing the FAA, the airlines and the flying public are flight delays. And the FAA has projected that there will be more than 1 billion passengers per year by 2010. That's a 50 percent increase in less than a decade. What are some of the initiatives that FAA is engaged in to try to alleviate this problem?
Ms. Garvey: Well, my sense is we're approaching this the way a number of other managers approach very complex problems, and that is to break it down into pieces. And we're thinking in terms of tactical initiatives that we can undertake in the short term and then obviously a much longer, much more strategic view.
And if I think just for a minute of the tactical issues, we've said what can we do in the short term to really help alleviate delays? And first and foremost, we identified the real choke point in this country for aviation travel. And no surprise to anyone, it's that triangle from Chicago to Boston down to Washington and back up to Chicago again. It's really that area that presents the greatest challenges for us.
So we have focused our energies, again, in those areas and changed procedures, changed the way that aircraft get in and out of some of those very, very difficult choke points.
We've negotiated with NavCanada to use some of the Canadian airspace off the Eastern coast so that pilots can land there, particularly in bad weather. We've negotiated with the Department of Defense, another agency we work with, to use some of the restricted military area when it's not being used. So those are all sort of the kind of tactical things, short-term initiatives that we're undertaking now.
Longer term, we are developing what is called a NAS Operational Plan. It's really the National Airspace Operational Plan. And it essentially lays out, in very exquisite detail, the responsibilities that the FAA, that the airlines, and airports will have over the next 10 years.
What are the initiatives we can undertake together? Technology, procedures, airports that are going to be necessary, avionics that airlines will need to equip their aircraft with. So it's a very comprehensive plan that lays out a 10-year strategy.
You know, the FAA, and again, not unique to the FAA, very much like NASA and like the Department of Defense in the '80s, tended to take on very large, complex initiatives. And we were going to really hit it out of the park with technology in the '80s. And what the FAA found, again, similar to lessons that I think Dan Golden learned at NASA and the Department of Defense, as well, is that sometimes by taking on something so large and complex, you never get it deployed, you never get it implemented. And so we've taken a slightly different approach since '97.
We've broken it down into pieces and said, 'let's approach modernization in a building-block fashion; let's do it step-by-step; let's not wait till we have the perfect solution, but let's get the technologies out there.' And again, we've done that with the airlines, as well.
Just one last note on delays. As much, though, as the FAA will do and can do, it will never be enough. Airlines still need to look at their own scheduling practices. Airports need to build runways. So it's really, again, I think, another area where it's clear that the solution isn't going to be found by any one entity acting in isolation. It's really got to be coming together.
Mr. Lawrence: What's the free-flight initiative?
Ms. Garvey: The free-flight initiative is a term that sounds a little bit intimidating, but it's a term that is used to describe the direction that we're heading in modernization. We're really moving much more toward a satellite-based navigation system. And the term "free-flight" refers to the kind of flexibility that a pilot will have under a satellite navigation -- under satellite navigation to really choose his or her own routes.
So much less the fixed route, which has been the historic way that we've approached those highways in the skies, and a much more sort of flexibility for the pilot to choose the routes that he wants and the routes that can be the most efficient, and obviously still very, very safe.
Mr. Lawrence: What are the implications of that on the management of the air traffic?
Ms. Garvey: Oh, there are a number of implications. Certainly there's implications in terms of the volume that we talked to, that Carolyn spoke about, the projections that we're seeing. It will be a much more efficient use of airspace, much more of the airspace will be able to be used, so that's certainly a plus.
But I have to say, it may also have some implications in terms of the kind of skills that our controllers will need. It will not be the same kind of sort of command and control kinds of skills that some of the controllers -- that the controllers have now. It'll be a different skill set. So, it's very exciting. It's certainly a change for the airlines, as well, with the equipment that they'll have to use.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, it's time for a break. We'll be back with more of The Business of Government Hour and our conversation with Jane Garvey in just a few minutes. (Intermission)
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour and our conversation with Jane Garvey, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. And joining me in our conversation is Carolyn Smith, another PwC partner.
Ms. Smith: Thank you, Paul. Jane, we know that the FAA led other public agencies here in the U.S. and internationally in implementing the Y2K compliance systems last year. In fact, you and I had the pleasure of flying across country at midnight, December 31, 1999. What are some of the lessons that you could pass along that you've learned in this process to other leaders about systems implementation efforts?
Ms. Garvey: Well, that was a great night, it certainly was. And I think there are lessons not only for just the FAA, but, as you've suggested, for other elements of government. And some sound so basic when you say it, and yet I think we tend to get away from it.
First and foremost, we had someone accountable. We had one person in charge. And again, in government sometimes things tend to be somewhat dispersed, but we said 'for Y2K, there's got to be a Y2K guru.' There's got to be somebody who is leading the charge. And that person, because it was such an important position, should be reporting to the administrator. You know, you can't do that on everything because you'll have everyone reporting to the administrator, but in this case we felt that it was important enough in terms of accountability to have that person report to the administrator. So that's number one.
Number two, and again, Management 101, but set very, very clear benchmarks and very clear time lines. They absolutely had to be adhered to. I guess we, in a sense, had a luxury with Y2K. That deadline was not something that could be moved, so that gave it a sense of urgency. But clear deadlines, clear milestones, benchmarks along the way, and frankly, very little tolerance for not meeting those benchmarks.
We were able to recruit some of the most talented people at the FAA to the Y2K effort and, of course, that's always a real plus, as well, to have folks who just want to do this and really want to get it done.
Then finally, Congress was extraordinarily helpful in giving us the resources that we needed. That's, again, not always the case. But in terms of Y2K, we had dedicated resources, clear point of accountability, benchmarks, milestones, and a great contractor, by the way, who helped us, as well.
But I really do think, again, that's another effort where you've got the public and the private sector coming together and really attacking something head-on and bringing in industry because, again, we were going to be working with the airlines. That was going to be important.
Mr. Lawrence: But truthfully, did you have any apprehension about flying during the date change?
Ms. Garvey: You know, I really didn't, and I think because we had had so many tests up to that point. I was more nervous about being on Tom Brokaw. (Laughter)
So that was -- by that time, we really thought it would go well. We had had a test, a pretty, pretty accurate test on -- in April, the preceding April. And when we passed that with flying colors -- it was in Denver -- we all felt pretty good.
Mr. Lawrence: How does the FAA balance the competing interest around building new or expanding existing airports?
Ms. Garvey: Oh, that's very, very challenging for us. People love aviation. Aviation's becoming a form of mass transportation, but there's certainly a great deal of reluctance when it comes to either adding runways or adding new airports. It is the classic not-in-my-backyard, and our role is a very interesting one.
All of those decisions are really initiated at the local level. And it's kind of interesting because you really do think of aviation as a national system, but it is a local decision whether or not they'd like to begin the process of either thinking through a new airport or thinking through a runway.
And some have suggested, well, maybe the federal government should play a more heavy-handed role, but I'm not sure that really is the answer.
I, frankly -- and I've been around this since '83 -- I've never seen a public works project succeed unless there is a strong local consensus. You won't have everyone for it, but you've got to have enough of a critical mass to really generate some support.
So it really begins at the local level, but then the FAA and the federal government comes into play very quickly through the environmental process, which sometimes is quite challenging.
One of the roles that I think we can play effectively and that is not necessarily to be an advocate of whatever solution because, again, you look at Chicago. Is the answer a third airport? Is the answer another runway? I mean, those are things local folks have to sort of attack, I think, at the local level. But what we can do is give them the right kind of data to make informed decisions.
This week, we just announced what's called "capacity benchmarks." And we looked at the top 31 airports in this country and we said, 'what's the capacity? What's the demand? And what are some options to meet the future demand?'
So I think that's going to be a terrific springboard, a terrific framework for local communities to say, 'okay, here's what the demand is, here's what the capacity is, we're in trouble, you know, we're getting too close to the -- to hitting the ceiling on our capacity. What can we do? What should we do to really increase capacity, because that's really what we want to do?'
Ms. Smith: Well, one of the issues on the table with increased capacity is just how long it takes to build a new runway or a new airport. And I know the Secretary of Transportation has indicated that was one of his priorities, to try to reduce that time frame. Can you give us some sense of what the time frame is, and what steps you can take to reduce it?
Ms. Garvey: And believe me, if it's the Secretary's priority, it's my priority. (Laughter) So he has -- actually, he mentioned it a great deal I think both at his hearing and in subsequent speeches that he's given, as well.
We're submitting a report to Congress that's going to, actually in Congress in early May, which takes a look both at what is the process? We sort of lay out what is the process, and then a series of recommendations.
People tend to say, 'well, the environmental process takes too long.' When you break it down and do kind of an anatomy of a project, what we're finding is that the environmental process is generally, you know, about two or three years.
What really adds the time -- and by the way, for some of the airports, some of the runways we've seen, you know, 10 and 12 years to get a runway through. Where we see the real difficulties, if you will, are at the beginning of the process, which is the planning process, getting that kind of local consensus that I spoke about; or at the end, after the environmental process is finished. Sometimes there are additional permits, state permits or additional federal permits that need to be secured and sometimes those take too long.
There are, I think, two or three areas that we're focusing on, that the Secretary's focusing on, as well. One is to have dedicated teams for the high-priority projects, the ones that really are going to have an impact on a system. What happens in San Francisco can affect the entire system.
So we have a dedicated team for the runway project in San Francisco. That's all they're doing. That's really their focus. So I think -- and again, that's that point of accountability again. I think that's certainly one thing that can be done.
The Secretary has talked about pulling together all of the environmental agencies with Transportation to really establish some MOUs, so we say very clearly up front 'what are all our responsibilities and when do we weigh in in this process?' So I think that's another area that could be very helpful.
We're looking at expanding something that's call "categorical exemptions," those projects that don't have to go through the same rigorous environmental process. But having said all of that, I have to reiterate what the Secretary has said and that is 'we're not talking about short-changing the environmental process, we're not talking about eliminating it, but we're talking about making it more efficient, doing things simultaneously, looking at much more -- a more streamlined way to get to the end result.'
Environmental issues are very serious, have to be taken seriously, but I think there -- it's fair to say can we do it faster, can we be more efficient.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, this is a good example. The FAA receives a great deal of media attention. What advice would you give to other public officials trying to deal effectively with the media?
Ms. Garvey: Again, I think it's probably advice that we all intuitively know, but sometimes is hard to do. One is I think you have to be very straight with the media. You have to be as honest as you possibly can be. This sort of very basic issue about getting back to them quickly. They're trying to do their job, as well.
Something I should do more of, and I find every time I do it, it pays off, and that is those informal roundtables that you sometimes have with members of the press sometimes without a clear -- any sort or late-breaking news, but just a way to really keep those lines of communications open. And I think above all, really cultivate those reporters that are really good and take the issue seriously.
Mr. Lawrence: We'll be right back with more of The Business of Government Hour and our conversation with Jane Garvey of the FAA. (Intermission)
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Today's conversation is with Jane Garvey, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. And joining me in our conversation is another PwC partner, Carolyn Smith.
Ms. Smith: Thank you, Paul. Jane, let's look a little bit to the future now. One of the new responsibilities within the FAA has to do with regulating the travel into space. Of course, that's getting to be a new industry. What are some of the new things you will see in the next 10 years for the industry?
Ms. Garvey: Well, that's a very interesting question because commercial space, as you suggested, is a very new area for the FAA. And how those launches, those commercial launches, which are becoming more frequent, how those become incorporated into the national airspace system, how those are coordinated with -- through air traffic control is a real challenge.
We have a wonderful, I think a very talented leader of the commercial space office, Patty Gray Smith. And she spends a great deal of time just interacting and working with the air traffic side of the house to make sure that that kind of coordination takes place.
I think aviation in general is going to continue to grow by leaps and bounds. People love to travel. As the world becomes more global, aviation just becomes even more pivotal and more important. When we look at the forecasts in aviation, we're talking about a billion people.
We served about 650 -- 670 in the last few years -- million, but that's going to grow to a billion by 2010. So aviation is going to continue to be, I think, a very, very important part of our economy and of our quality of life for people.
We're still seeing a great interest in regional jets. I think that's something that we hadn't quite anticipated in the last 15 years, the growth of regional jets, and that changes the way we manage our airspace system. So I think that's going to be a growing part of the industry, as well. We're going to see more general aviation. There are more corporate jets than ever before. So it's an industry that's going to really grow.
So I think it's an exciting time to be part of aviation. Technology offers a lot of promise and a lot of hope for the future. And when you look at what Boeing's doing with some of those future aircraft, it's a pretty exciting time.
Mr. Lawrence: There's a lot of discussion about the structure of how the air traffic control system is owned, if that's the right term, from perhaps continuing to have it as a government function to even privatizing. I wonder what your thoughts are in terms of this area.
Ms. Garvey: That is something that, I think, has really captured both the interest of -- certainly of the airlines and to some degree Congress, as well. The FAA and the air traffic control in particular is very unique in civilian governments -- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day of the year. So it is somewhat unique, and it is very much a service provider, if you will.
In 1993, the previous administration, the Clinton administration, proposed a government corporation, which I thought had a lot of very attractive qualities. It essentially would pull out air traffic. It still left it as part of government, but more of a -- sort of a government corporation. It would pull it out of the rest of the FAA with some very clear revenue, a clear revenue stream. It separated it out from the FAA. That was a concept. It received no interest on the Hill. The Congress was not particularly interested in that proposal, so it really never went anywhere.
In '97, the administration, the Clinton administration, came back again and said 'let's set up a performance-based organization. We won't take it quite as far as a government corporation, but we'll set up a performance-based organization: customer-driven, clear metrics, clear measurements, become much more business-like for the FAA cost-accounting system.' And again, Congress wasn't sure they wanted to go that full bore, but they did give us some elements for a performance-based organization.
They set up an oversight board, an air traffic oversight board of five people -- public interest, not aviation interest. They gave us the ability to hire a chief operating officer, a COO. We're trying to do that now, but I've got to tell you, it's a challenge. The government salaries are capped and because the industry's doing well, it's sometimes challenging to attract people to a position like that, although I think it's just a wonderful opportunity to really set a direction for the future that will be quite extraordinary.
So we've got a cost-accounting system well underway. We're establishing metrics, so we're doing a number of those -- taking a number of those steps that you would take to set up a separate performance-based organization. We, of course, have personnel reform, have acquisition reform, so we have a number of the tools.
The element that's missing and, quite frankly, I think it's a very important element, but it is this sort of separate revenue stream for air traffic. We're still very dependent, of course, on the federal budget, yearly appropriations. And when you're looking at some of those technologies, sometimes that's really a constraint.
So we're going to take advantage of all of those tools. We've got some very specific steps that we're taking to really sort of separate out and pull out air traffic still within the FAA, but keep it much more of a separate entity with -- and taking advantages of the tools that Congress gave us. There are certainly those in the industry who still advocate full privatization. I'm not sure that Congress would be interested in that, though.
Ms. Smith: You know, I was just going to ask a follow-on to that because we often hear folks talk about the privatization with Canada and Australia. What is different in the U.S. other than the politics?
Ms. Garvey: Right. Well, first of all, I think there's a lot we can learn. And we've certainly, for example, spent a good deal of time with NavCanada even as we developed our cost-accounting systems. So I mean, I think there's a lot you can learn from looking at what other countries have done.
I do think it's important to note that, for example, with Canada, it is far less complex than our system. They don't have the kind of general aviation constituency that we have here in this country. I was thinking about it the other day, and I was over at Herndon at the end of the day, it was about 6:00 in the evening. And I was watching them track all of the aircraft through the skies. It was about 6,000 aircraft were in the air at that time. It was quite extraordinary to see. Most of them seemed to be at LaGuardia, unfortunately, but they were spread throughout the country.
And I was reminded by somebody there that this was six times the kind of traffic that you'd see in a place like NavCanada or in the Canadian airspace.
So I think there's a lot we can learn. The politics are clearly a big issue, particularly with the general aviation. But I think we also do have to remind ourselves that it is a much more complex system here.
Ms. Smith: One of the other issues on the table currently has to do with competition among commercial airlines. What is the role of the FAA in that arena, if any?
Ms. Garvey: Well, in this case, that really is a Secretary of the Department of Transportation, the Secretary's role to really deal with competition policies, to set competition guidelines.
The FAA is -- our major responsibility, in fact, -- really our fundamental mission, as I mentioned earlier, is aviation safety. So we really don't get into the competition issues. That's really set by the Department of Transportation. And I think Congress has been very clear and reiterated that again in '97, to sort of keep the FAA just really focused on aviation safety. So I'm glad to say that the issue about ticket prices is something the Secretary deals with.
Mr. Lawrence: We hear a great deal about the upcoming federal government retirement wave and its impact on service and agencies. Is this an issue at FAA?
Ms. Garvey: Oh, it's very much an issue for the FAA. And you may remember the PATCO, the air traffic control strike in 1981. We're just about at their 20th anniversary this August. And so a number of those people who came in after the strike are now reaching retirement age. So we have looked at that very, very carefully.
We've got plans to hire about 600 controllers this year, 1,000 next year. We've really projected it out well into the future. It looks like about 2003, 2004, we're going to see the real wave. So we've got something pretty well laid out with some very specific hiring numbers that we're -- it's going to be a very aggressive effort. But having that kind of time to plan for it is very, very helpful, and we'll monitor it. We're not sure, we're basing it on the historic retirement data, but we're going to monitor it very closely and see how we're doing.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, Jane, I'm afraid we're out of time. Carolyn, I want to thank you for joining us. It's been a very interesting conversation.
Ms. Garvey: Thank you. I enjoyed it very much, appreciate your asking me.
Mr. Lawrence: This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Jane Garvey, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. To learn more about our programs and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness, visit us on the web at endowment.pwcglobal.com.
See you next week.