A new 50-page report compiled by the Government Accountability Office has identified “errors” in the evaluation process used by the U.S. Department of Transportation to award grants through its Infrastructure for Rebuilding America or INFRA program.
[Above photo by USDOT]
GAO’s report said USDOT – which has awarded more than $4 billion over five years through the INFRA program for 94 “nationally significant” freight and highway projects – “did not consistently detect or correct inaccurate or incomplete application evaluations.”
For example, seven of the 40 projects or 18 percent that received INFRA grants from USDOT in 2019 and 2020 had “inaccurate or incomplete” evaluations.
“USDOT did not detect or correct these errors because it does not provide direction on how it will conduct oversight activities, including ensuring accurate and complete evaluation documentation,” GAO noted in a statement. “Without such an approach, USDOT may continue to risk awarding some projects that have inaccurate evaluations.
GAO – which noted it previously found ways to improve the transparency and consistency of the INFRA program’s application and award process – also said INFRA grant applicants “still don’t have enough information to help them make good decisions on whether and how to apply” for grants through this program.
As a result, GAO is recommending that USDOT “systematically” analyze INFRA grant applicant information to determine how to clarify large project requirements and then provide direction on its oversight activities in order to detect and correct evaluation errors and ensure accurate documentation.