High-Speed Passenger Rail: Preliminary Assessment of California's Cost Estimates and Other Challenges

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Based on an initial evaluation of the California High Speed Rail Authority's (Authority) cost estimates, GAO found that they exhibit certain strengths and weaknesses when compared to best practices in GAO's Cost Guide. Adherence with the Cost Guide reduces the risk of cost overruns and missed deadlines. GAO's preliminary evaluation indicates that the cost estimates are comprehensive in that they include major components of construction and operating costs. However, they are not based on a complete set of assumptions, such as how the Authority expects to adapt existing ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. December 6, 2012.

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Description

Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Based on an initial evaluation of the California High Speed Rail Authority's (Authority) cost estimates, GAO found that they exhibit certain strengths and weaknesses when compared to best practices in GAO's Cost Guide. Adherence with the Cost Guide reduces the risk of cost overruns and missed deadlines. GAO's preliminary evaluation indicates that the cost estimates are comprehensive in that they include major components of construction and operating costs. However, they are not based on a complete set of assumptions, such as how the Authority expects to adapt existing high-speed rail technology to the project in California. The cost estimates are accurate in that they are based on the most recent project scope, include an inflation adjustment, and contain few mathematical errors. And while the cost estimates' methodologies are generally documented, in some cases GAO was unable to trace the final cost estimate back to its source documentation and could not verify how certain cost components, such as stations and trains, were calculated. Finally, the Authority evaluated the credibility of its estimates by performing both a sensitivity analysis (assessing changes in key cost inputs) and an independent cost estimate, but these tests did not encompass the entire cost estimate for the project. For example, the sensitivity analysis of the construction cost estimate was limited to 30 miles of the first construction segment. The Authority also did not conduct a risk and uncertainty analysis to determine the likelihood that the estimates would be met. The Authority is currently taking some steps to improve its cost estimates."

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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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  • December 6, 2012

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. High-Speed Passenger Rail: Preliminary Assessment of California's Cost Estimates and Other Challenges, text, December 6, 2012; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc295641/: accessed December 11, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.