Recovery Act: Funding Used for Transportation Infrastructure Projects, but Some Requirements Proved Challenging Page: 2 of 60
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i G A O RECOVERY ACT
Accountability * Integrity* Reliability
H eig Funding Used for Transportation Infrastructure
1 1 htS Projects, but Some Requirements Proved Challenging
Highlights of GAO-11-600, a report to the
Why GAO Did This Study
This report responds to two GAO
mandates under the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act of
2009 (Recovery Act). It is the latest
report on the uses of and
accountability for Recovery Act funds
in selected states and localities,
focusing on the $48.1 billion provided
to the Department of Transportation
(DOT) to invest in transportation
infrastructure. This report also
examines the quality of recipients'
reports about the jobs created and
retained with Recovery Act
This report addresses the (1) status,
use, and outcomes of Recovery Act
transportation funding nationwide
and in selected states; (2) actions
taken by federal, state, and other
agencies to monitor and ensure
accountability for those funds; (3)
changes in the quality of jobs data
reported by Recovery Act recipients
of transportation funds over time;
and (4) challenges faced and lessons
learned from DOT and recipients.
GAO analyzed DOT and recipient
reported data; reviewed federal
legislation, guidance, and reports;
reviewed prior work and other
studies; and interviewed DOT, state,
and local officials.
What GAO Recommends
GAO updates the status of agencies'
efforts to implement its previous
recommendations but is making no
new recommendations in this report.
DOT officials generally agreed with
GAO's findings and provided
technical comments, which were
incorporated as appropriate.
View GAO-11-600 or key components.
For more information, contact Phil Herr at
202-512-2834 or firstname.lastname@example.org
What GAO Found
As of May 31, 2011, nearly $45 billion (about 95 percent) of Recovery Act
transportation funds had been obligated for over 15,000 projects nationwide,
and more than $28 billion had been expended. Recipients continue to report
using Recovery Act funds to improve the nation's transportation
infrastructure. Highway funds have been primarily used for pavement
improvement projects, and transit funds have been primarily used to upgrade
transit facilities and purchase buses. Recovery Act funds have also been used
to rehabilitate airport runways and improve Amtrak's infrastructure. The
Recovery Act helped fund transportation jobs, but long-term benefits are
unclear. For example, according to recipient reported data, transportation
projects supported between approximately 31,460 and 65,110 full-time
equivalents (FTE) quarterly from October 2009 through March 2011. Officials
reported other benefits, including improved coordination among federal,
state, and local officials. However, the impact of Recovery Act investments in
transportation is unknown, and GAO has recommended that DOT determine
the data needed to assess the impact of these investments.
Federal, state, and local oversight entities continue their efforts to ensure the
appropriate use of Recovery Act transportation funds, and recent reviews
revealed no major concerns. The DOT Inspector General found that DOT
generally complied with Recovery Act aviation, highway, and rail program
requirements. Similarly, state and local oversight entities' performance
reviews and audits generally did not find problems with the use of Recovery
Act transportation funds.
GAO's analysis of Recovery.gov data reported by transportation grant
recipients showed that the number of FTEs reported, number of recipients
filing reports, and portion of recipients reporting any FTEs decreased over the
past two reporting quarters as an increasing number of projects approached
completion or were awaiting financial closeout. The Federal Highway
Administration performs automated checks to help ensure the validity of
recipient reported data and observed fewer data quality issues than in
previous quarters but does not plan to use the data internally.
Certain Recovery Act provisions proved challenging. For example, DOT and
states faced numerous challenges in implementing the maintenance-of-effort
requirement, which required states to maintain their planned level of spending
or be ineligible to participate in the August 2011 redistribution of obligation
authority under the Federal-Aid Highway Program. In January 2011, DOT
reported that 29 states met the requirement while 21 states did not because of
reductions in dedicated revenues for transportation, among other reasons.
The economically distressed area provision also proved difficult to implement
because of changing economic conditions. With regard to the high speed
intercity passenger rail and Transportation Investment Generating Economic
Recovery (TIGER) grant programs, GAO found that while DOT generally
followed recommended grant-making practices, DOT could have better
documented its award decisions.
United States Government Accountability Office
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Recovery Act: Funding Used for Transportation Infrastructure Projects, but Some Requirements Proved Challenging, report, June 29, 2011; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc302500/m1/2/: accessed December 12, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.