“Given that the FAA’s budget increased more than 100 percent over the last 15 years, finding five percent in savings shouldn’t need to significantly impact our nation’s aviation operations,” he said in a press release.
And Shuster’s next point of contention may be too broad, as well.
“There are $2.7 billion in non-personnel Operations costs that should be examined before FAA personnel are furloughed,” he said, citing $500 million spent on consultants.
But FAA officials say the $514 million, to be exact, isn’t just for consultants. Instead, it’s roughly the entire contracting budget for the FAA to work with private businesses on a number of projects.
The largest is the Federal Telecommunications Infrastructure program, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told a committee hearing in February.
“What that program is, about a $228 million program, and what that is, is the telecommunications infrastructure that underlies the whole air traffic control system,” the agency head said.
Fiscal watchdogs are always concerned that government agencies may spend too much on private contractors. But in the FAA’s case, it’s not blowing $500 million on consulting like Shuster suggests. Huerta estimated the FAA’s actual spending on private consultants was about $21 million.
Republicans have accused Obama of using the FAA layoffs as a way to pressure lawmakers to pass his budget proposal. Shuster obviously has concerns about controlling the FAA’s budget while maintaining safety. But his claims have missed the mark and started to stretch the facts. That’s why Rep. Bill Shuster wins the Whopper of the Week, a distinction awarded by the Washington Guardian to examples of half-truths and misstatements from lawmakers.