The General Services Administration has suspended the Federal Aviation Administration's authority to procure a new $1.5 billion data-processing computer system pending a review of the project, according to documents released yesterday by the House Government Operations Committee.
The committee asked for the action earlier, saying the project was not well thought out and that the FAA has unnecessarily limited competition by inserting narrow requirements in its proposal.
The Computer Resources Nucleus (CORN) project would replace 12 current FAA computers used for administrative functions and for processing FAA functions other than air traffic control, which is run by another computer system.
Under the CORN project, an outside vendor would provide the computer services for up to 10 years on the vendor's equipment. The in-house FAA computers would be junked.
Some members of Congress, including Government Operations Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), have charged that the system has not been properly planned and that the procurement process is being handled unfairly.
"We simply cannot afford to have the federal government take risks of billions of dollars in questionable procurements without full and open competition," Conyers said.
The General Accounting Office, the investigating arm of Congress, has said in two reports that the FAA has not substantiated the need for the new computer system, and that its planning for implementing the system is flawed. The GAO also faulted the procurement process.
A letter to the Transportation Department from Francis A. McDonough, an assistant GSA commissioner, listed no reason for the suspension, saying only that the agency will conduct a "comprehensive review" of the acquisition.
The FAA had no immediate comment.