The General Accounting Office (GAO) was requested to examine (1) the capacity of the Highway Trust Fund highway account to support the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) authorization and the reasons for anticipating a shortfall in revenue, (2) the consequences of a shortfall, and (3) the strategies for dealing with a shortfall. In brief, GAO found the following: Revenues projected through fiscal year 1999 will fall $5.9 billion short of authorizations to be paid from the Highway Trust Fund's highway account during the ISTEA authorization period (fiscal years 1992 through 1997), according to official administration projections developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). A shortfall in actual and anticipated revenues is expected to trigger the Byrd Amendment (which mandates a reduction in the apportionment of authorized amounts if the account balance plus the 2 following years' anticipated revenues is not sufficient to cover outstanding authorizations) in fiscal year 1995 and to grow substantially during the remaining 2 years of the authorization period. Most of the projected shortfall is attributable to an anticipated decline in collections of highway excise taxes. If current revenue projections prove accurate, the Byrd Amendment will require FHWA to reduce the states' highway apportionments. These funds will be withheld in an amount equal to the shortfall until revenues are sufficient to satisfy the Byrd test. Under current projections, a slight reduction ($15 million) will be needed in fiscal year 1995 and more substantial reductions will be required in fiscal years 1996 and 1997 ($3.2 billion and $2.6 billion--or 15.0% and 12.4% of authorized funding--respectively). A number of strategies are available to address the anticipated revenue shortfall. These strategies--which include implementing, modifying, or suspending the Byrd Amendment--present advantages and disadvantages for the Congress to weigh in deciding how to deal with the shortfall.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Report to the Chairman, Committee on the Budget, U.S. Senate.
  • Corporate Authors:

    U.S. General Accounting Office

    441 G Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20548
  • Publication Date: 1992-9


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 23 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00625249
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO/RCED-92-245
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 30 1993 12:00AM