Opportunities Exist to Strengthen FHWA's Coordination, Guidance, and Oversight of the Tribal Transportation Program

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Tribal Transportation Program (TTP) provides funding for safe and adequate transportation and public road access to, within, and through tribal reservations, tribal lands, and Alaska Native Villages. TTP projects range from board roads for all-terrain vehicles on the marshy Alaskan tundra to significant road construction. According to FHWA’s Office of Federal Lands Highway (FLH), over 8 billion vehicle miles are traveled annually on the TTP system, but more than 60 percent of its roads are unpaved and 27 percent of its bridges are deficient. From fiscal years 2005 to 2012, the TTP received about $3.5 billion in congressional appropriations, including $310 million provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). FLH and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) jointly administer and oversee the TTP. Tribes enter into agreements with either FLH or BIA to receive funding for their tribal transportation projects and overall technical assistance on the program. The U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (OIG) initiated this audit to assess whether FLH is (1) effectively coordinating with BIA to administer and manage the TTP and (2) providing adequate oversight of TTP projects under agreements with tribes. FLH and BIA routinely coordinate in key TTP areas, such as conducting reviews of tribal transportation programs. However, FLH and BIA have opportunities to improve coordination on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) approvals and final acceptance of TTP projects. The existing agreements between FLH and BIA do not reconcile the two Agencies’ different processes and requirements for NEPA approvals or reflect FLH’s current role in assisting tribes. Although FLH has developed some processes for reviewing the tribes’ management of transportation projects, its oversight is not based on sufficient data on tribes’ program risks and needs. OIG requested project and funding information for all completed projects and projects under construction for the tribes in our sample, but FLH did not provide accurate data for 7 out of the 10 tribes. It can be difficult for FLH and tribes to clearly understand and comply with program requirements. Insufficient data on program and project activities and unclear, outdated program guidance impedes FLH’s ability to effectively advise tribes and ensure that projects meet Federal requirements.


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Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices;
  • Pagination: 21p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01499275
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: MH-2014-003
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI, USDOT
  • Created Date: Nov 12 2013 10:18AM