MASS TRANSIT GRANTS: IF PROPERLY IMPLEMENTED, FTA INITIATIVES SHOULD IMPROVE OVERSIGHT

In a series of reports, the General Accounting Office (GAO) examined grant oversight in four Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regions that receive about 60% of FTA's grant funds. This report (1) builds on GAO's earlier work to demonstrate the systemic effect of FTA's weak oversight, (2) assesses recent FTA and legislative initiatives designed to correct oversight problems, and (3) examines the mix of staff between FTA regional offices and headquarters and the agency's use of contractors to conduct oversight activities. Briefly, GAO found the following: FTA has not given high priority to overseeing grants; rather, it has relied primarily on grantees' assurances that they would properly manage federal funds. Previously documented inadequacies in FTA's oversight; serious deficiencies in grantees' financial, technical, procurement, inventory, and other management controls; noncompliance with federal requirements; and improper expenditures of grant funds have not been effectively detected and corrected. FTA's past oversight posture has clearly placed scarce transit funds in jeopardy. In May 1992 the FTA Administrator approved a plan to improve grantees' accountability and strengthen FTA's monitoring and enforcement. In addition, recent legislation addressed two of GAO's previous concerns by requiring FTA to assess transit safety and document its discretionary grant award process. FTA's new initiatives, however, will not be fully effective until the agency focuses its staff efforts more appropriately, makes full use of its resources, and provides clear guidance to contractors. From region to region no relatioship exists between the number of grants, the number of staff performing oversight, the time spent on oversight, and the emphasis given to each oversight mechanism. Nonetheless, FTA has postponed until 1994 a planned study to determine the best use of staff for oversight purposes. Furthermore, FTA has used less than half of the $35 million it received to pay contractors for providing oversight in fiscal year 1991 and has furnished contractors with inadequate guidance to review grantees' activities.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Report to Selected Members of Congress.
  • Corporate Authors:

    U.S. General Accounting Office

    441 G Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20548
  • Publication Date: 1992-11

Language

  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 64 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00625454
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO/RCED-93-8
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 4 1993 12:00AM