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The Potential Impact of Sequestration on the Department of Transportation

As required by the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, the White House released a report last week on the impact that sequestration could have on agency budgets. The data provided by the White House lists agency accounts at the budget account level. The report does not provide details on the specific accounts, but we can develop insight into the potential impact on agency IT by comparing the listed budget account with information provided in the FY 2013 agency budget requests.
In this blog, I will point out notable exemptions as specified in the White House report, as well as notable sequestration amounts for the Department of Transportation.
Notable Exemptions:
The Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (BBEDCA) as amended, identifies programs exempt from sequestration and subject to special rules. The percentage cuts in the Office of Management and Budget’s sequestration report, and the identification of exempt and non-exempt accounts, reflect the requirements set forth in the BBEDCA. The administration cannot choose which programs to exempt, or what percentage cuts to apply.
Notable exemptions (>$200m) to budget accounts for the Department of Transportation are shown below:
Budget Account
Total Budget Amount ($m)
Exempt Amount ($m)
Office of the Secretary
Working Capital Fund
Working Capital Fund, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center 
Federal Aviation Administration
Grants-in-aid for Airports (Airport and Airway Trust Fund) 
Administrative Services Franchise Fund 
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Motor Carrier Safety Grants 
Motor Carrier Safety Operations and Programs 
Maritime Administration
Ready Reserve Force
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 
Highway Traffic Safety Grants 
The highest dollar value exemptions for Department of Transportation are the Federal Aviation Administration’s Operations budget and Airports Grants-in-Aid program. The exemption of $7 billion in the FAA’s operations budget leaves approximately $4.5 billion vulnerable to sequestration. The exemption of $3.5 billion in the Airports Grants-in-Aid program means those grants will be protected.
The FAA’s Operations budget provides funding for the Air Traffic Organization (ATO), the entity responsible for managing the air traffic control system.  Cuts to this budget could therefore potentially have a major impact on the funding of components for the Next Generation Air Transportation System, including the following systems:
  • Aviation Surface Weather Observation Network (ASWON)
  • Aeronautical Information Management Program (AIM)
  • Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS)
  • Terminal Primary Surveillance (TPS)
  • Instrument Flight Procedure Automation (IFPA)
  • Next Generation Air/Ground Communications (NEXCOM) Segment
  • Voice Switching and Control System (VSCS) Tech Refresh
  • Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS)
  • Weather and Radar Processor (WARP)
  • Airport Surface Detection Equipment - Model X (ASDE-X)
  • Alaskan Satellite Telecommunication Infrastructure (ASTI)
  • ATC Beacon Interrogator Replacement (ATCBI-6)
  • En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM)
  • Oceanic Automation System: Advanced Technologies and Oceanic Procedures (ATOP)
  • Traffic Management Advisor (TMA) System
  • Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement (TAMR)
  • Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B)
  • Traffic Flow Management (TFM)
  • NextGen CATMT Work Package Programs
  • Data Communications NextGen Support (DataComm)
  • NextGen NAS Voice System (NVS)
  • Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement Phase III (TAMR3)
  • Next Generation Air/Ground Communications (NEXCOM) Segment 2
  • NextGen R&D Collaborative Air Traffic Management (CATM)
  • NextGen R&D Reduce Weather Impact (RWI)
  • NextGen R&D Demonstrations and Infrastructure
The FAA had been poised to gain $99 million for work related to the Next Generation Air Transportation System in the FY 2013 budget request, making it a program area where increased spending previously had been anticipated.
Notable Sequester Amounts:
Notable sequestration amounts per budget account (>$200m) for Transportation are shown below:
Budget Account
Total Budget Amount ($m)
Amount ($m)
Federal Aviation Administration
Trust Fund Share of FAA Activities (Airport and Airway Trust Fund) 
Facilities and Equipment (Airport and Airway Trust Fund) 
Federal Highway Administration
Payment to the Transportation Trust Fund 
The most notable amount potentially relevant to IT programs is the $377 million sequestered from the FAA's Operations budget.  Given that a total of $4.5 billion of this budget was vulnerable to sequestration the fact that only $377 million is actually slated for sequestration is encouraging for those working on FAA Next Generation projects.



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