- The NPS is the FAA's only tool to view performance metrics for capabilities, technologies, and procedures implemented through the FAA's modernization effort known as NextGen.
- Launched five years ago, the NPS tool has grown to eight sections including metrics, timelines, success stories, and a reference guide.
- The NTSB modeled its new goal-tracking platform on the NPS Priorities section.
Launched a half-decade ago, the NextGen Performance Snapshots, or NPS, provides the FAA's only tool to view performance metrics for capabilities, technologies, and procedures put into place across the country through the FAA's modernization effort known as NextGen. Now five years later, the NPS is bigger, better and emulated by other government agencies for reporting needs.
The site was born out of a 2010 Government Accounting Office report that stated the FAA should identify the performance metrics best suited to measure progress of the modernization effort and mandated the FAA establish a method for reporting this data.
Tony Diana, Ph.D., an FAA operational research analyst, the site's creator and original division manager for the NPS team, said the web was a natural choice to communicate NextGen performance information. "As a website, you can communicate to all the stakeholders and be transparent as to the progress NextGen is making," he said.
The team was challenged to create the NPS reporting tool in just a few months. Diana and his team learned in December 2011 of the task to begin reporting on NextGen the following March. But the effort was not without challenges.
"When we started, some capabilities were implemented and others were about to be implemented, and the results were not measurable immediately," said Diana. "Sometimes we have capabilities that bring some benefits but at specific times of day, not throughout the day. So that's the challenge with measurement," he added.
The sheer volume of information available from various lines of business within the FAA and partners such as MITRE also posed a challenge for the team to ensure everyone was speaking the same language, measuring the same metrics, and defining performance the same way.
Rich Golden, current contract support for the NPS and one of the original NPS team members, said the team laid much of the groundwork ahead of the request to create the site. "Prior to us being told to do this, we were already working with the [FAA] metrics harmonization group to determine how and what metrics to use," he said. "Once they got agency-wide agreement on metrics, we started to move forward."
When the NPS debuted in March 2012, the site focused on metrics from the FAA-defined Core-30 airports, safety data and success stories — which break down NextGen technologies and their impacts in layman's terms. Over the years, the NPS has gone through several evolutions. "We've adapted based on feedback we've heard from throughout the agency," said Stephen Moskowitz, a management and program analyst for the NPS who joined the team just before the site's launch five years ago.
"The NPS team has maintained the ability to be as agile as needed in order to transition with our ever-changing environment," said acting NextGen Performance Division manager Lisa D. Williams. This flexibility has allowed the NPS to grow and adapt to the needs of its audience. In its current form, the NPS features the following focus areas:
Airports Pages – Feature metrics for the FAA-designated Core-30 airports including average daily capacity, taxi-in and -out time, and effective gate-to-gate time, and more. This section also features detailed analysis of NextGen capabilities at key locations and timelines showing dates of NextGen implementations.
Portfolios Pages – Provide a visual depiction of where NextGen capabilities are in place across the country, organized by FAA NextGen Portfolio.
Priorities Pages – Feature a timeline of priority implementations as agreed upon between the FAA and the NextGen Advisory Committee. A completions history page shows where these capabilities and technologies have been completed by quarter and calendar year.
Metroplex Pages – Through the Metroplex program, the FAA is working to improve regional air traffic movement over major metropolitan areas. Information includes projected fuel, money, and carbon savings, as well as average daily metroplex traffic and average daily scheduled flights.
City Pairs Pages – Metrics track flight-time variations between airports in major metropolitan areas. Metrics include airborne distance, effective gate-to-gate time and predictability, and airborne time between locations.
NAS-wide Pages – Show the impact of NextGen technologies across the country in terms of fuel burn and environment metrics, as well as access to general aviation airports.
Success Stories – Highlight how NextGen technologies and procedures are benefitting airports, airlines and the flying public at locations across the country.
Reference Guide – Documents the methodology used to calculate the metrics featured across the NPS.
NPS content is updated throughout the year. Some material is updated annually while other information is updated as needed or as soon as capabilities are implemented. Diana says the NPS tool has been well received and is respected by those who depend on the information provided by the site. Visitors to the NPS include airlines, congressional staffers, the Government Accountability Office, the Office of the Inspector General, internal FAA staff, and others interested in tracking where NextGen capabilities have been implemented and performance metrics associated with NextGen technologies and procedures.
The FAA's partner agency, the National Transportation Safety Board, has also taken note of the NPS. The NTSB is now using a similar platform based on the design of the NPS Priorities section to track achievements toward its strategic goals. The agency is also planning to utilize success stories similar to the NPS to inform the public about progress made in transportation as a result of NTSB recommendations.
Going forward, the NPS team is considering adding new components to help users more easily identify NextGen impact in specific geographic locations.