August 8, 2020
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A 53-page report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office suggests a range of changes for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants or CIG program to make its grant review process “more transparent and effective.”

“This program is a significant source of federal financial assistance that transit agencies across the United States can use to build new transit systems or extend existing service,” the GAO explained in the report’s summary. “FTA’s role [in this program] is to evaluate and rate projects based on statutory criteria and make recommendations to Congress.”

The agency interviewed the sponsors – including state departments of transportation – of most of the 66 projects currently being funded by the CIG program and found portions of the grant application and review process to be “confusing,” which caused funding delays.

GAO recommended that the FTA make three changes to the CIG program as a result of its analysis:

  • Using a standards-based approach includes clearly specifying the methods an agency uses and the factors it considers when performing its reviews.
  • Documenting review processes and results includes communicating the results of agency decisions in a timely manner.
  • Incorporating public involvement helps position agencies to be better prepared to address issues that might affect their reviews.

The GAO also issued a 36-page report in January regarding ways the FTA could more “effectively share information with state and local stakeholders” on coordination opportunities in an “accessible and informative” way – particularly where rural transit services are concerned.

editor@aashto.org

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