Improvements Are Needed To Strengthen the Benefit-Cost Analysis Process for the TIGER Discretionary Grant Program

Since its establishment in 2009, the Office of the Secretary’s (OST) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program has provided billions of dollars for infrastructure improvements and economic development. As part of the selection process for TIGER awards, OST evaluates each applicant’s project benefit-cost analysis (BCA), which shows the project’s economic benefits. Prior to fiscal year 2016, projects that did not demonstrate net economic benefits were disqualified, but for fiscal year 2016 and after, lack of economic benefit did not automatically disqualify projects. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted this audit because of the importance of BCAs to TIGER grant awardee selection. The objective was to assess OST’s policies and procedures for evaluating BCAs in determining which TIGER grant applications are forwarded for further review. OIG assessed the BCA process for the fiscal year 2015 and 2016 rounds. OIG found that during round 2015, OST’s BCA reviews generally met Federal guidelines but reviewers’ approaches were not standardized. Specifically, reviews did not include standardized elements such as actions allowable when applications lack information and length of review time. OST also had no procedures for BCA documentation and as a result, not all reviewers retained his or her review notes. Furthermore, OST reassessed 47 projects and determined that the BCA review findings of costs that outweighed benefits for 20 of them were questionable. While these 20 projects were forwarded to the Secretary as eligible for award, OIG found that the reassessment work lacked required elements of systematic review. For round 2016, OST implemented a standardized review template and a responsible official to finalize reviews, but did not update TIGER’s written policy to include these changes. This lack of standardized BCA reviews limits OST’s ability to make the process fair and transparent so applicants can make informed decisions when preparing their applications. OIG made four recommendations to help OST ensure equity and consistency in the BCA review process. OST concurred with the recommendations.

Language

  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; References;
  • Pagination: 23p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01667753
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: ST2018028
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI, USDOT
  • Created Date: Mar 20 2018 4:12PM