U.S. GAO says FTA close to violating federal law by failing to address grant requirements

August 27, 2018

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has not addressed three congressional requirements for their grants programs contained in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act).
According to the GAO, the FTA has not:

  • issued regulations regarding the evaluation and rating process for Core Capacity Improvement projects, which are a category of eligible projects within the program;
  • established a program of interrelated projects designed to allow for the simultaneous development of more than one transit project within the Capital Investment Grants program; or
  • implemented a pilot program designed to create a fast-track approval process for transit projects that meet specific statutory criteria.

During the review, FTA told GAO that they do not have any immediate plans to address any of the three statutory provisions. The FTA cited an earlier budget proposal by President Trump to eliminate the Capital Investment Grant program, however, Congress provided the program with $2.6 billion in funding since that proposal and required FTA to continue to administer the program in doing so.
The GAO left the FTA with three recommendations for Executive Action:

  1. The FTA administrator should initiate a rulemaking regarding the evaluation and rating process for Core Capacity Improvement projects, consistent with statutory provisions.
  2. The FTA administrator should take steps, such as undertaking additional research or public outreach, to enable FTA to evaluate and rate projects in a program of interrelated projects, in a manner consistent with statutory provisions; and
  3. The FTA administrator should take steps to describe the process project sponsors should follow to apply for consideration as a pilot project under the Expedited Project Delivery for Capital Investment Grants Pilot Program.

FTA stated to the GAO that it is reviewing the law and determining their next steps but did not indicate any specific plans or timeframes for addressing the three outstanding provisions. In their report, the GAO warned the FTA that “by not addressing those provisions, FTA runs the risk of failing to implement provisions of federal law.”
Click here to read the GAO’s full report.

The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the “congressional watchdog,” GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.