Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Liars Figure




Hey boys and girls. Remember this blog entry?

Hiding in Plain Sight

The answer (as usual) is right in front of you if you know what you’re looking for. In that I did work for the FAA, I have the advantage of having seen this tactic time and time again.

" The agency is working on a new staffing standard for each site but doesn't expect to complete it until spring. "

The trick is to change -- I’m sorry, improve your “standards” -- the way things are measured -- every few years so that the previous data is no longer “relevant.”

"While the FAA argues those numbers are no longer relevant,...."

That way, you can’t track trends over long periods of time. Or if you change the way you grade yourself, you can change your grade.

I predict the controller staffing shortage will look much better when the FAA completes it’s new staffing standard this spring.

Don Brown
December 27, 2006


Well guess what ? The FAA’s new staffing numbers were released today. If you’d like, you can download the 4.8 mb .pdf file. Or you can avoid wasting your time because you (and I) already knew what it would say.

After wading through the 32 page report (lots of pretty pictures to make up the 4.8 mb file) I found the number I wanted to know; the figures for my former place of employment: Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center. Or “ZTL” for short.

ZTL now has a “staffing range” of 309 to 377. Anywhere within that (huge) range and the FAA now meets their new and improved “standard.” Presto ! ZTL has now gone from being understaffed to being overstaffed at 439 controllers.

That 439 staffing number was “as of” 9-30-06. Pay attention here boys and girls. I retired on 12-1-06. I was hired 11-23-81. 11/81 + 25 years = 11/06. Are you following that ? I was in one of the first groups hired after the strike in 1981. I worked 25 years and got out as fast as I could -- 8 days after I was eligible. Yet, I was counted in the current FAA’s numbers.

The report states on page 12:

”In the first six months of FY2006, FAA’s retirement projections tracked very closely to actual retirements. However, in the second half of FY2006, actual retirements versus projections began to diverge for a total of 116 more retirements than expected by the end of the fiscal year.

The Federal government’s 2006 fiscal year (FY2006) ended on 9-30-06 (just in case you’re wondering.)

Interpretation: The FAA’s projected retirement numbers were low even before most of the controllers (like me) became eligible. And the “current” numbers they just published were counted barely (as in 1 month) after the real retirement wave started. 8/81 + 25 years = 8/06 +1 month = 9/06. (Quibble about the 30 days in September if you must.)

The real problem is that the numbers aren’t as important as time. One trainee doesn’t equal one 25 year veteran. Not for about 5-10 years it doesn’t. And according to my sources, those veterans are retiring at the rate of 3 a day. Go figure.

Gettin’ the flick yet ?

Don Brown
March 7, 2006

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