Air Traffic Control:

Impact of Revised Personnel Relocation Policies Is Uncertain

GAO-03-141: Published: Oct 31, 2002. Publicly Released: Nov 12, 2002.

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In fiscal year 2001, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spent more than $15 million to move air traffic controllers and their managers to new permanent duty locations. FAA classifies the funds that it spends for these moves as permanent change of station (PCS) benefits. In 1998, as part of a broader effort to reform its personnel policies, FAA changed its policies on PCS benefits. Instead of fully reimbursing the costs of all PCS moves and prohibiting unfunded PCS moves, as it once did, FAA now determines the amount of PCS benefits to be offered on a position-by-position basis and allows employees and managers to move at their own expense. Under its new polices, FAA can fully reimburse the costs of a move if it determines that he move is in the interest of the government, or it can offer partial fixed relocation benefits if it determines that the agency will derive some benefit from the move. FAA's policies on eligibility for PCS benefits are the same for air traffic controllers and their managers, but the amounts of the benefits vary. According to these policies, eligibility depends on a determining official's decision about how critical a position is and/or whether FAA will benefit from the move. Air traffic controllers have been less likely than air traffic managers to be offered PCS benefits when they move between facilities. Between fiscal year 1999 and 2001, Air Traffic Services funded 16 percent of moves involving a promotion and 6 percent of lateral moves between field facilities for controllers, compared with 38 percent of promotional moves and 34 percent of lateral moves for managers. According to FAA officials, PCS costs have decreased and FAA's ability to quickly fill vacant controller positions has improved since the new PCS policies took effect.

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