The attached data includes Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects from October 1, 2005 through September 18, 2009. This information, except for the National Priority Rating (NPR), has been publically available. The formula for calculating the NPR has also been publically available. NPR is a numerical model that is one of several tools FAA uses to prioritize airport development projects. The NPR is the first evaluation factor and serves to categorize airport development in accordance with agency goals and objectives. The model yields the highest percentage of projects funded under the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). Under applicable FAA AIP policy the NPR is used in conjunction with qualitative factors including state and local priorities, environmental issues, impact on safety and performance, airport growth, pavement condition index, and others. Lower priority projects are funded as long as the other factors justifying the project are documented.
The model generates values between 1 and 100, with a higher number indicating higher priority. Each fiscal year, an NPR threshold is established. All projects at or above the NPR threshold are considered to be consistent with FAA goals and objectives. Since 2005 this threshold has been around 41 for discretionary funds. From 2005-2009, 86.5 percent of AIP funded projects had an NPR of 41 or above, excluding state block grant projects. However, mathematical models will never be a replacement for human judgment. The remaining 13.5 percent of the projects fulfilled other important aspects of the AIP and fully complied with applicable requirements. Each year projects with a NPR below the national threshold, receive AIP grant funds, if they meet the funding criteria and are justified.
There are many reasons why a project below the threshold is justified. For example, a project such as an access road, recommended by a Runway Safety Action Team to improve safety may carry a low NPR according to the numerical model, but would warrant funding. Special emphasis programs also focus Federal funds on projects with lower NPR but address a national need.
The Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General has audited the FAA’s priority system several times. In October 26, 2007 the OIG reported “FAA’s policies are effectively ensuring that the highest priority rated projects are funded in accordance with regulations. However, under Vision 100 FAA can fund—and is funding—lower priority rated projects (i.e., those rated under 40).” The OIG also found that “FAA is meeting its strategic goal of funding projects that can enhance airport safety, security, and system capacity.”*
In order to focus ARRA funds on the highest priority projects, FAA set a goal to prioritize funding for those projects scoring an NPR of 62 or greater, a level more than 50 percent higher than the typical AIP goal. This was a tool FAA used to focus funding to the highest priority projects. As a special emphasis program for ARRA funding, FAA explicitly elevated the renovation or replacement of aging terminal infrastructure at smaller airports (non-hub) above the threshold line. While the 62 NPR rating was selected as a goal to achieve the best possible projects for ARRA, projects below 62 are funded on a case-by-case basis so long as they are justified in writing to the satisfaction of the FAA under the process outlined above. Excluding state block grant projects, 85 percent of the ARRA projects did not require a justification. The remaining 15 percent were justified ARRA projects, including new airport constructions, safety and various other projects.
This page can be viewed online at: http://www.faa.gov/airports/aip/grant_histories/airport_projects/