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Congressman Randy Hultgren

Representing the 14th District of ILLINOIS

Hultgren Offers Amendment to Cut Funding for FAA’s Discredited Personality Test for Air Traffic Controllers

Jun 9, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC — U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) today offered an amendment to restrict funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to further implement its discredited Biographical Questionnaire (Bio Q), a personality test the agency has used since last year as an obscure gatekeeper for hiring new air traffic controllers. Recent investigations have revealed that FAA or aviation-related employees shared inside information with instructions about how to pass the test with particular air traffic controller recruits to help them gain jobs with the FAA. For additional information about this ongoing controversy and what Rep. Hultgren has done to ensure the safety of air travel, please click here.

He delivered the following statement on the House floor in support of his amendment.

 (Click picture to watch video)

Following are Rep. Hultgren’s prepared remarks:

I rise today to offer my amendment which defunds a troubling hiring test put forth by the FAA which has led to cheating and questionable hiring practices for air traffic controllers.

The intent of my amendment is not to slow hiring, but to stop the FAA’s use of a discredited gatekeeper hiring test.

I represent more than 270 air traffic controllers in Illinois’ 14th District.

More than a year ago, the FAA made an inexplicable and obscure change to its long-standing hiring practices with few details given about how the changes would be implemented, and with little advance warning.

Setting aside its decades-long process by which qualified collegiate training initiative (CTI) students and military veterans were given preference in hiring, the FAA implemented a new Biographical Questionnaire—Bio Q—which contained such questions as, “How many sports did you play in high school?”

With no way to know what a right answer is, how to improve on the test, or what their final score was, many otherwise highly qualified applicants failed, after spending countless resources and time training to become air traffic controllers.

The new procedures caused the agency to divert the hiring process around highly-qualified, CTI-certified trainees and experienced veterans, jeopardizing air travel safety in favor of “off-the-street” hires, some of whom have little experience or ambition.

Since then, the FAA has been under fire following a six month investigation which uncovered that FAA or aviation-related employees may have assisted in giving potential air traffic controller recruits special access to answers on the Bio Q to help them gain jobs with the FAA.

This cheating is greatly disturbing and jeopardizes any shred of credibility the Bio Q had as an accurate and fair test to determine who should be air traffic controllers.

Yet we are now finding out that the cheating may run deeper than first reported, possibly with knowledge at the highest levels of the FAA.

If additional FAA or aviation-related employees helped applicants cheat on the Bio Q, it is imperative we expose those responsible and determine how widespread and systemic the misconduct is.

I have urged Congress to compel the FAA to appear before the American people to get to the bottom of this troubling discovery.

These investigations uncover just how discredited the Bio Q is in any hiring process.

But until we get answers to questions like: who knew about the cheating, when did they know it, and did they cover it up—we cannot let the FAA employ people unfairly using the highly flawed Bio Q as a gatekeeper.

In addition, we still don’t know what will happen to those who have either failed the BQ, aged out of the hiring process, or both.

Disqualifying highly-trained, certified graduates and military veterans because they did or did not play sports in high school is ridiculous.

This amendment would restrict funding for the Bio Q—stopping its use by the FAA.

When you climb into an airliner, you trust the pilot, the crew and air traffic controllers will keep you safe.

I have introduced H.R. 1964, the Air Traffic Controllers Hiring Act of 2015 (previously known as the SAFE TOWERS Act) to reverse the effects of the FAA’s policies, restore safety and confidence to air travel, and to make sure we have the best and brightest in our control towers.

I have hopes that legislation can move quickly through the House and have urged the Transportation Committee to hold a hearing on the bill.

Now that Aviation Subcommittee Chairman LoBiondo has cosponsored the legislation, I look forward to the committee’s consideration.

Until then, this amendment will help restore some sanity back to the FAA.