Commentary

FAA Needs Controllers

The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it faces a major personnel crisis, estimating that nearly half of the air traffic controllers will retire by 2012. Lawmakers think the problem is actually worse than this! What’s the solution? The FAA believes that it needs to start hiring now. Granted the training process could take up to seven years (generally between 1 and 2 years) for new hires. Just last year lawmakers considered opening up some air traffic controller and specialist positions to competition – allowing private firms handle operations would help ease the staffing crunch, provide more flexibility within the FAA and save valuable tax dollars. Its worth noting that private controllers have better safety records and already operate at numerous airports around the country – including Crawford, TX where the President’s plane lands. However, NACTA and NAATS (the unions representing controllers and specialists) fought competition hard. NAATS even hired a powerful lobbyist, with good connections I might add, to fight competition in the future. Reason’s own Bob Poole has written countless articles on the topic, you can access the entire body of work here. Bob tells me that there are signs of more competition to come. Given the human capital shortage, competition is just what the FAA needs.

Geoffrey Segal is the director of privatization and government reform at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. He is also editor of Reason's Privatization Watch.

Segal recently served as an advisor to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's Center for Efficient Government. In addition, his counsel has recently been sought out by Gov. Mark Sanford and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, where he is working with the Government Efficiency and Financial Planning group inside the Office of Management and Budget. Segal is also an advisor to the Cost Cutting Caucus in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Segal is a highly skilled policy analyst with a strong, diversified background in policy research and project analysis focusing on public-private partnerships, competition, government efficiency, government spending and waste, transparency, accountability, and government performance.

Segal has worked closely with legislators in California, New York, Florida, Indiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, Oregon, Kentucky, Ohio, Washington D.C., Colorado, Minnesota, Maryland, Maine, North and South Carolina, Hawaii, Arizona, and Texas in efforts to reduce government spending, improve government performance, and enhance accountability in government programs.

Segal has testified to the United States Senate and numerous state legislatures and agencies. He has written dozens of articles for leading publications including Investor's Business Daily, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Indianapolis Star, Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, and New York Sun. Segal is also a contributing editor to Budget & Tax News. A frequent guest on television and radio, he has appeared on Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto" as well as CNBC's "Closing Bell w/Maria Bartiromo" and "Power Lunch."

Segal earned a B.A. in Political Science at Arizona State University and a Master of Public Policy from Pepperdine University.