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Federal-Aid Highways: Federal Requirements for Highways May Influence Funding Decisions and Create Challenges, but Benefits and Costs Are Not Tracked

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "As highway congestion continues to be a problem in many areas, states are looking to construct or expand highway projects. When a state department of transportation (DOT) receives federal funding for highway projects from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the projects must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirement, the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, and the Buy America program. While complying with these requirements, states must use limited transportation dollars efficiently. As requested, GAO addressed (1) the types of benefits and costs associated with these requirements for federal-aid highway projects; (2) the influence of these federal requirements on states' decisions to use nonfederal or federal funds for highway projects; and (3) the challenges associated with the federal requirements and strategies used or proposed to address the challenges. To complete this work, GAO reviewed 30 studies, surveyed DOTs in all states and the District of Columbia, and interviewed transportation officials and other stakeholders."
Date: December 12, 2008
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal-Aid Highways: Trends, Effect on State Spending, and Options for Future Program Design

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In 2004, both houses of Congress approved separate legislation to reauthorize the federal-aid highway program to help meet the Nation's surface transportation needs, enhance mobility, and promote economic growth. Both bills also recognized that the Nation faces significant transportation challenges in the future, and each established a National Commission to assess future revenue sources for the Highway Trust Fund and to consider the roles of the various levels of government and the private sector in meeting future surface transportation financing needs. This report (1) updates information on trends in federal, state, and local capital investment in highways; (2) assesses the influence that federal-aid highway grants have had on state and local highway spending; (3) discusses the implications of these trends for the federal-aid highway program; and (4) discusses options for the federal-aid highway program."
Date: August 31, 2004
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal-Aid Highways: FHWA Needs a Comprehensive Approach to Improving Project Oversight

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The federal-aid highway program provides over $25 billion a year to states for highway and bridge projects, often paying 80 percent of these projects' costs. The federal government provides funding for and oversees this program, while states largely choose and manage the projects. Ensuring that states effectively control the cost and schedule performance of these projects is essential to ensuring that federal funds are used efficiently. We reviewed the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) approach to improving its federal-aid highway project oversight efforts since we last reported on it in 2002, including (1) FHWA's oversight-related goals and performance measures, (2) FHWA's oversight improvement activities, (3) challenges FHWA faces in improving project oversight, and (4) best practices for project oversight."
Date: January 31, 2005
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal-Aid Highways: Federal Highway Administration Could Further Mitigate Locally Administered Project Risks

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Newly available data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show the extent and some characteristics of locally administered projects, but other key data are not being collected. From July 2012 to June 2013, local agencies administered about 12 percent or $3.8 billion of the $31 billion in federal-aid funding obligated during that period. The federal share was less than $250,000 for over half of the projects. However, FHWA neither collects information on which local agencies are administering federal-aid projects nor the capabilities of those agencies--information that would allow FHWA to identify the extent and magnitude of its risks and more effectively target its oversight of the states."
Date: January 16, 2014
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal-Aid Highways: Increased Reliance on Contractors Can Pose Oversight Challenges for Federal and State Officials

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Pressure on state and local governments to deliver highway projects and services, and limits on the ability of state departments of transportation (state DOT) to increase staff levels have led those departments to contract out a variety of highway activities to the private sector. As requested, this report addresses (1) recent trends in the contracting of state highway activities, (2) factors that influence state highway departments' contracting decisions, (3) how state highway departments ensure the protection of the public interest when work is contracted out, and (4) the Federal Highway Administrations' (FHWA) role in ensuring that states protect the public interest. To complete this work, GAO reviewed federal guidelines, state auditor reports, and other relevant literature; conducted a 50-state survey; and interviewed officials from 10 selected state highway departments, industry officials, and FHWA officials."
Date: January 8, 2008
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal-Aid Highways: FHWA Has Improved Its Risk Management Approach, but Needs to Improve Its Oversight of Project Costs

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The federal-aid highway program provides about $33 billion a year to states for highway projects. The federal government provides funding for and oversees this program, while states largely choose and manage the projects. As requested, GAO reviewed the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) implementation of several requirements in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU): (1) oversight of states using a risk management approach; (2) efforts to develop minimum standards for estimating project costs, and periodically evaluate states' cost estimating practices; and (3) reviews of states' financial management systems. GAO also reviewed FHWA's policy on presenting an estimate of financing costs in financial plans for major projects (i.e., projects estimated to cost over $500 million). GAO reviewed FHWA plans, risk assessments, reviews, and other documents; visited five FHWA field offices and reviewed financial management reviews in an additional five field offices; and interviewed FHWA officials."
Date: July 24, 2009
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal-Aid Highways: Cost and Oversight of Major Highway and Bridge Projects--Issues and Options

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Improving the oversight and controlling the costs of major highway and bridge projects is important for the federal government, which often pays 80 percent of these projects' costs. Widespread consensus exists on the need to fund such projects, given the doubling of freight traffic and worsening congestion projected over the next 20 years, yet growing competition for limited federal and state funding dictates that major projects be managed efficiently and cost effectively. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides funding to the states for highway and bridge projects through the federal-aid highway program. This funding is apportioned to the states, and state departments of transportation choose eligible projects for funding. FHWA provides oversight to varying degrees, and, under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), FHWA and each state enter into an agreement documenting the types of projects the state will oversee. This statement for the record summarizes cost and oversight issues raised in reports and testimonies GAO has issued since 1995 on major highway and bridge projects and describes options that GAO has identified to enhance federal oversight of these projects, should Congress determine that such action is needed and appropriate."
Date: May 8, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal-Aid Highways: Improved Guidance Could Enhance States' Use of Life-Cycle Cost Analysis in Pavement Selection

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Thirteen of the 16 state transportation agencies GAO contacted used Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) to select the pavement type (e.g., asphalt or concrete) for certain road construction and rehabilitation projects. Officials in all 13 states indicated that LCCA helped ensure that the agency selected the pavement that was most cost-effective over the long term, but states' specific LCCA practices varied. In general, these states used LCCA for larger projects, but each state had unique criteria to determine which projects should be subject to an LCCA. Likewise, the broad categories of LCCA inputs--such as agency costs, timing of future road work, and discount rate--are similar, but state transportation agencies handled each of these inputs in different ways. For example, estimates of when future roadwork would occur for a particular pavement type were based on state-specific factors, such as past experience with pavements and climate. Furthermore, state agencies used different criteria to decide if LCCA results clearly indicated a pavement type with the lowest life-cycle cost. In 9 of the 13 states that used LCCA, the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) LCCA guidance was an important influence on state practices, according to state transportation officials, and 7 states used LCCA software developed by FHWA."
Date: June 12, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal-Aid Highways: States Need Guidance on Sales or Leases of Real Property Purchased with Federal Funds

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In 1998, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), authorized the states to retain the federal share of proceeds from the sale or lease of real property that had been purchased with federal-aid funds. It also required the states to use the federal share on other highway projects eligible for funding under the federal-aid highway program. GAO determined (1) the extent to which states are selling, leasing, or disposing of real property purchased with federal-aid funds and (2) how the proceeds generated from the sale or lease of real property are being used, including whether they are being used in accordance with TEA-21. GAO issued a related legal opinion in September 2002."
Date: December 13, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department