U.S. Infrastructure: Agencies' Approaches to Developing Investment Estimates Vary

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A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "A sound public infrastructure plays a vital role in encouraging a more productive and competitive national economy and meeting public demands for safety, health, and improved quality of life. The federal government has spent an average of $149 billion (in constant 1998 dollars) annually since the late 1980s on the nation's infrastructure. Little is known, however, about the comparability and reasonableness of individual agencies' estimates for infrastructure needs. This report discusses infrastructure investment or "needs" estimates compiled by seven agencies--the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. July 20, 2001.

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Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "A sound public infrastructure plays a vital role in encouraging a more productive and competitive national economy and meeting public demands for safety, health, and improved quality of life. The federal government has spent an average of $149 billion (in constant 1998 dollars) annually since the late 1980s on the nation's infrastructure. Little is known, however, about the comparability and reasonableness of individual agencies' estimates for infrastructure needs. This report discusses infrastructure investment or "needs" estimates compiled by seven agencies--the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). GAO focuses on the following infrastructure areas: water resources (inland and deep draft navigation, flood control, and shore protection), hydropower, water supply, wastewater treatment, airports, highways, mass transit, and public buildings. GAO found that the agencies' estimates for infrastructure investments ranged from GSA's calculation of $4.58 billion (in current dollars) over one to five years to repair public buildings to FHWA's estimate of $83.4 billion (in constant 1997 dollars) per year over 20 years to improve highways. The estimates prepared by the Army Corps (for water resources and hydropower) and GSA are for federal spending; the other estimates are for spending from federal, state, and local sources. Each of the seven agencies developed their investment estimate using data from localities, states, or agency regional offices. The estimates, however, were developed using different analytical procedures. The investment estimates cannot be easily compared or simply "added up" to produce a national estimate of infrastructure investment needs because of differences in the methods used, time periods covered, and spending sources. Each of the seven agencies has procedures for developing infrastructure investment estimates that reflect eight practices used by leading government and private sector organizations. No agency has procedures for all eight leading practices."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • July 20, 2001

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. U.S. Infrastructure: Agencies' Approaches to Developing Investment Estimates Vary, report, July 20, 2001; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc292510/: accessed April 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.