TRANSIT GRANTS: DEPARTMENT OF LABOR'S CERTIFICATION PROCESS

This is the statement of John H. Anderson, Jr., Director, Transportation Issues, Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, regarding labor protection for transit employees. Before the Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) can release funds to grant applicants, the Department of Labor (DOL) must certify that adequate arrangements (commonly called "section 13(c) arrangements") are in place to protect the interests of employees affected by the assistance. These provisions are designed to protect against a worsening of the positions of transit employees and to preserve existing rights and benefits. Because of congressional concerns about the timeliness of DOL's certification process the Department established a goal, effective in January 1996, of certifying grant applications within 60 days. The General Accounting Office was asked to review a number of issues related to DOL's section 13(c) responsibilities, including its timeliness. Today's testimony is based on preliminary work and will (1) describe DOL's process for issuing certifications for grant applications and discuss how DOL defines and calculates how long it takes to issue certifications and (2) discuss trends and factors affecting the length of DOL's certification process. DOL's certification process begins when FTA forwards a grant application to the Department. DOL reviews the application for completeness. If it is incomplete, DOL notifies FTA, requests the missing information, and suspends further processing. If the application is complete, DOL recommends the employee protection terms and conditions that will apply to the grant and in most cases sends them to both the relevant labor unions and the grant applicant for review. This is when DOL's 60-day clock starts. DOL's certification process allows "fast tracking" for applications that do not require union referral. About 25% of the applications submitted from October 1996 through January 2000 were fast tracked and terms and conditions did not need to be referred to unions for review. Overall, DOL's data indicate that the Department has met its 60-day processing goal for 98% of the applicants processed since January 1996. Trends and factors that could affect DOL's overall certification time include applications placed in a suspended status - a status that DOL does not count in its processing time; the number of days it takes DOL to make the referral to unions (this used to be 4 or 5 days, but has increased to as much as 11 days); and the number of union or applicant objections filed for the referrals (ranges from 37% to 82%).

Language

  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures;
  • Pagination: 8 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00797091
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO/T-RCED-00-157
  • Files: NTL, TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 3 2000 12:00AM