oversight

Transportation Infrastructure: Review of Project Selection Process for Five FHWA Discretionary Programs

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-11-07.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                 United States General Accounting Office

GAO              Report to Congressional Requesters




November 1997
                 TRANSPORTATION
                 INFRASTRUCTURE
                 Review of Project
                 Selection Process for
                 Five FHWA
                 Discretionary
                 Programs




GAO/RCED-98-14
      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      Resources, Community, and
      Economic Development Division

      B-278026

      November 7, 1997

      The Honorable Bud Shuster
      Chairman, Committee on
        Transportation and
        Infrastructure
      House of Representatives

      The Honorable Thomas E. Petri
      Chairman, Subcommittee on
        Surface Transportation
      Committee on Transportation and
        Infrastructure
      House of Representatives

      The Congress has authorized the Secretary of Transportation to select and
      fund specific state transportation projects under several discretionary
      highway programs. These funds supplement other funds that states
      routinely receive through the federal-aid highway program. These
      supplemental funds come from several discretionary transportation
      programs, the first of these programs was authorized in 1930, when the
      Congress established a Public Lands Highway Program. While the
      Department of Transportation (DOT) distributes the federal-aid funds to
      states on the basis of congressionally approved formulas, the Secretary of
      Transportation can select specific transportation projects for federal
      funding under the discretionary programs.

      Since fiscal year 1992, the Secretary has selected about 415 projects
      totaling about $2.7 billion in federal funds through five of DOT’s
      discretionary programs. The funding for these five programs represented,
      on average, about 87 percent of all Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
      discretionary funding during fiscal years 1994-97. These funds have paid
      for the construction of highways, bridges, and ferry boat facilities
      throughout the nation. As it reauthorizes the Intermodal Surface
      Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), the Congress is reassessing
      the level of funding necessary for the discretionary programs and the
      procedures the Secretary has established to ensure that the best
      transportation projects are being selected under these programs.

      As part of the ISTEA reauthorization process, you asked us to (1) describe
      the selection process and criteria that DOT uses to fund projects under its
      discretionary highway programs and (2) determine how DOT’s process has




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                   changed and how the changes may have affected which projects the
                   Department selects for discretionary funding. The five programs you asked
                   us to review are the Public Lands Highways Program, the Discretionary
                   Bridge Program, the Interstate Discretionary Program, the Interstate 4R
                   Program, and the Ferry Boats and Facilities Program. To respond to these
                   objectives, we reviewed and analyzed the documents and lists of selected
                   projects pertinent to the discretionary programs for fiscal years 1992
                   through 1997. In Washington, D.C., and one regional office, we also
                   interviewed FHWA officials who have been responsible for implementing
                   these programs. Additional information on our methodology is provided at
                   the end of this report.


                   DOT uses a two-phase process for selecting and funding transportation
Results in Brief   projects for the five discretionary programs we reviewed. In the first
                   phase, FHWA program staff in the field and headquarters compile and
                   evaluate the applications that states submit for discretionary funding.
                   Program staff screen the applications by applying eligibility criteria
                   established by statute or administratively. On the basis of written criteria,
                   program staff group the projects into four categories that range in priority
                   from most promising to not qualified and submit the groupings to the
                   Office of the Administrator. The submission to the Office of the
                   Administrator provides information on each candidate project, data on
                   discretionary funds that each state received during prior years, and the
                   current level of congressional interest. In the second phase, the Office of
                   the Administrator uses the information submitted by the program staff, as
                   well as other factors, to evaluate the projects and make the final
                   selections. According to FHWA’s Acting Deputy Administrator, the Office of
                   the Administrator has tried to ensure that the dollars are spread fairly
                   among all the states and that the interests of Members of Congress are
                   addressed. In contrast to the analyses that the program staff complete in
                   the first phase, the Office of the Administrator does not document the
                   factors it uses to select the final projects or its rationale for making the
                   final selections.

                   DOT  is authorized to establish procedures for reviewing and selecting
                   transportation projects under its discretionary programs. Our review of
                   the selection process revealed that under the current process, in place
                   during fiscal years 1995-97, the Office of the Administrator relied more on
                   its discretion and less on the program staff’s input and analyses than it did
                   under an earlier process used during fiscal years 1992-94. Under this new
                   process, which was designed to provide the Office of the Administrator



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             with more flexibility in taking into account items such as the geographic
             distribution of funding, 73 percent of the projects that the Office of the
             Administrator selected were categorized as “most promising” or
             “promising.” In addition, the Office of the Administrator selected a
             declining portion of projects from these categories over the 3-year period.
             During fiscal years 1992-94, when staff ranked projects in order of priority
             and recommended specific projects and funding amounts, the Office of the
             Administrator selected over 98 percent of all projects that the program
             staff recommended.


             Beginning in 1930, the Congress established the first transportation
Background   discretionary program under which the executive branch could select
             specific transportation projects for federal funding, thus providing the
             executive branch with some latitude in allocating federal funds to the
             states. In that year, the Public Lands Program was established to pay for
             road work on the nation’s public lands. In 1978, the Congress set up the
             Discretionary Bridge and Discretionary Interstate programs. The
             Discretionary Bridge Program was established to replace or rehabilitate
             high-cost bridges while the Discretionary Interstate Program aimed to
             accelerate the construction of the Interstate Highway System. When the
             Interstate 4R Discretionary Program was begun in 1982, its goal was to
             resurface, restore, rehabilitate, and reconstruct the Interstate Highway
             System. Finally, the Ferry Boats and Facilities Program, begun in 1991,
             was intended to construct ferry boats and ferry terminal facilities. (See
             apps. I-V for additional information on ISTEA’s provisions and eligibility
             requirements for each of the discretionary programs discussed in this
             report.)

             The Secretary of Transportation is responsible for selecting projects under
             the discretionary programs. The Secretary has delegated this responsibility
             to the FHWA Administrator. FHWA’s Office of Engineering administers the
             programs, solicits applications from states, and compiles the applications
             and information for selection. States submit applications to FHWA’s division
             offices, which either send the applications to FHWA’s regional offices for
             compilation with other states’ applications or to FHWA’s headquarters, as
             they do for Interstate Discretionary and 4R programs. Regional offices
             then send the applications to FHWA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

             As table 1 shows, since fiscal year 1992, the five discretionary programs
             we reviewed received over $2.7 billion in federal funds—ranging from




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                                             about $99 million provided for the Ferry Boats and Facilities Program to
                                             almost $1.6 billion provided for the Interstate Discretionary Program.


Table 1: DOT’s Funding of Five Discretionary Highway Programs, Fiscal Years 1992-97
Dollars in millions
                                       FY                 FY                FY               FY                FY               FY
Program’s name                       1992               1993              1994             1995              1996             1997             Total
Discretionary Bridge                $ 49.8             $ 61.3           $ 63.3            $ 52.6           $ 65.9            $ 60.6          $ 353.5
Ferry Boats and Facilities           14.0                15.3             19.0              17.2             14.9              18.2             98.6
Interstate Discretionary            149.9               302.3            796.8            289.6                2.4             12.9          1,553.9
Interstate Discretionary 4R          55.9                65.5             68.9              65.4             66.2              66.4            388.3
Public Lands                         43.0                60.8             56.2              54.1             49.5              55.6            319.2
Fiscal year total                  $ 312.6            $505.2         $1,004.2            $478.9            $198.9           $213.7         $2,713.5
                                             Legend

                                             FY = fiscal year

                                             Note: Totals may not add because of rounding.

                                             Source: GAO’s analysis of data from DOT.



                                         The states’ requests for discretionary funds have generally exceeded the
                                         amounts available for funding.1 For example, in fiscal year 1997, the states
                                         submitted almost $682 million in requests for about $61 million in
                                         discretionary bridge funds. Similarly, the states submitted nearly $1.3
                                         billion in requests for about $66 million available in fiscal year 1997 from
                                         Interstate 4R funds. Although the states have been able to build specific
                                         transportation projects and facilities through discretionary funding, the
                                         amounts available through these five programs represent only a small
                                         portion of the highway funds that the states receive annually. For example,
                                         in fiscal year 1997, FHWA’s Office of the Administrator provided the states
                                         with $213.7 million in discretionary funding for the five programs we
                                         reviewed—about 1 percent of the estimated $20 billion that FHWA provided
                                         the states with for that year.




                                             1
                                              Some states do not apply for discretionary funding because such funding may affect their equity
                                             adjustments in the following year’s apportionment. Discretionary allocations that affect the states’
                                             equity calculations include those for all of the programs we reviewed except the Ferry Boats and
                                             Facilities Program.



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                                         FHWA uses a two-phase selection process involving both program staff and
FHWA Uses a                              the Office of the Administrator. As displayed in figure 1, the first phase
Two-Step Process for                     begins when program staff in the Office of Engineering send a solicitation
Selecting                                notice out to FHWA’s regions calling for project candidates from the states.
                                         Project candidates are compiled by the regions and divisions and
Discretionary Projects                   forwarded to the headquarters staff offices. The headquarters staff with
                                         specific expertise in the various discretionary program areas compile the
                                         regional submissions and review and analyze each candidate. By applying
                                         program-specific statutory and administrative criteria, program staff
                                         screen and prioritize project applications for each discretionary program.



Figure 1: Chronology of FHWA’s Project Selection Process


                                                               Interstate
                                                               Discretionary


  Phase I                                                      Interstate 4R

                                Regions and Divisions                                        Office of Engineering
   FHWA's Office of                                           Discretionary                  staff review
   Engineering sends            compile states'               Bridge                         candidates, apply
   solicitation notices to      submissions and send
                                                                                             criteria, and prepare
   regional offices             them to FHWA's Office                                        an allocation plan for
                                                               Public Lands
                                of Engineering                                               each program
                                                               Highways

                                                              Ferry Boats and
                                                              Facilities




  Phase II
                                The Office of the             The Office of the                The Office of the
   The Office of
                                Administrator reviews         Administrator's staff            Administrator selects
   Engineering sends the
                                all of the allocation         may contact FHWA                 projects for funding in
   allocation plans to the
                                plans simultaneously,         staff for additional             each discretionary
   FHWA Office of the
                                on the basis of equity        information
   Administrator                                                                               program
                                issues, etc.




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FHWA program staff use both statutory and administrative criteria and
other factors to identify and prioritize projects for each discretionary
program. As displayed in table 2, the criteria are program specific and
differ among the five discretionary programs. For example, by using data
to determine the physical condition of a bridge, Discretionary Bridge
Program staff calculate a numerical score or rating factor for each
candidate project. The rating factor allows FHWA to prioritize the projects
eligible for funding. In contrast, Public Lands Program staff use factors,
such as whether a project is located in a state with 3 percent or more of
the nation’s public lands, to screen and prioritize projects. Interstate
Discretionary and 4R Program staff consider whether other sources of
funding, such as unobligated Interstate Construction and National
Highway System funds, are available for projects, while Ferry Boats and
Facilities Program staff evaluate factors, such as a project’s benefits and
the ability of federal funds to leverage private funds, when they prioritize
the candidate projects. After applying the criteria, program staff identify
ineligible projects and group the eligible projects into four priority
categories—most promising, promising, qualified, and not qualified.2




2
 The Discretionary Bridge Program has an additional category—Not Qualified-Administrative—which
includes projects that, for a variety of reasons, program staff rank as the lowest of the eligible projects.
Projects included in this category would be those requesting fourth quarter funding or those whose
total cost is extremely high.



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Table 2: Statutory and Administrative Criteria for the Discretionary Programs
                                 Statutory                                             Administrative
Program                          criteria                                              considerations
Public Lands Highways            An eligible project is any kind of transportation     Program criteria include the history of funding
                                 project eligible for assistance under title 23 that   distribution among states, whether a project is
                                 is within or adjacent to or provides access to        ready to advance to construction, commitment of
                                 public land area. Statutory criteria give             other funding sources, past allocation of Public
                                 preference to projects that are significantly         Lands Highways funds, relationship of a project
                                 impacted by federal land and resource                 to the completion of a complete highway
                                 management activities and located in states with      segment, and safety and capacity improvements.
                                 3 percent or more of the nation’s public lands
                                 (i.e., Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado,
                                 Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon,
                                 Utah, and Wyoming).
Bridge Discretionary             Eligible projects are bridges that cost more than    First priority is given to bridges that were
                                 $10 million or at least twice the state’s annual     previously funded and need additional funds
                                 apportionment of bridge funds for the fiscal year    within the first three quarters of the fiscal year.
                                 in which the request is made.                        Priority is then given to unfunded bridge projects
                                                                                      with the lowest rating factors that need funding
                                 In 1982, Congress directed FHWA to establish a for the first three quarters of the fiscal year.
                                 rating factor for each candidate on the basis of     Projects from states that have transferred their
                                 seven items, including bridge condition, average bridge apportionment funds to other federal-aid
                                 daily traffic, total project cost, etc. On the basis categories during the previous year are
                                 of these items, FHWA developed the rating            generally not considered eligible for
                                 factor formula, which it uses to prioritize          discretionary bridge funding.
                                 candidate projects. The lower the rating factor,
                                 the higher the priority for selection and funding.
Ferry Boats and Facilities       Eligible vehicular ferry facilities must be on a      Consideration is given to whether the project will
                                 route classified as a public road, except an          result in a useable facility; what other benefits
                                 Interstate route. Projects may include both ferry     exist; whether other funds, either state or local,
                                 boats carrying cars and passengers and                are committed to the project; and whether the
                                 passengers only. Ferry boats and facilities must      project has received Ferry Boats and Facilities
                                 be publicly owned.                                    Discretionary allocations in the past.
Interstate Discretionary         Interstate Discretionary funds must be used for       Other factors include whether a state has utilized
                                 any work eligible for Interstate Construction         unobligated Interstate Construction and
                                 funds to complete construction of the Interstate      Interstate Discretionary funds, whether a project
                                 system. Allocations may be made to any eligible       is critical to complete the Interstate system, and
                                 project in any state except Massachusetts.            which states have the greatest funding needs to
                                                                                       complete the Interstate system.
Interstate 4R Discretionary      For a state to be eligible to receive Interstate 4R   A project from a state that has transferred either
                                 funds, it (1) must demonstrate that it can obligate   National Highway System or Interstate
                                 all of its National Highway System                    Maintenance funds to its Surface Transportation
                                 apportionments during the fiscal year, (2) must       Program in the preceding year will not be
                                 be willing and able to obligate Interstate 4R         considered for funding.
                                 funds by September 1 of the fiscal year, (3) must
                                 apply the funds to a ready-to-commence project,
                                 and (4) must begin work within 90 days of
                                 obligation. In addition, ISTEA directed the
                                 Secretary to give priority consideration to
                                 projects exceeding $10 million on any
                                 high-volume route in an urban area or high-truck
                                 volume route in a rural area.

                                                                                                                 (Table notes on next page)

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Source: FHWA.



The second phase of the selection process begins after FHWA’s Office of
Engineering provides the Office of the Administrator with a report for
each discretionary program that lists the eligible projects and includes
other information, such as what funding the states received in prior years
through the discretionary programs and any congressional interest or
support for specific projects. The Office of the Administrator receives the
reports for all of the programs simultaneously—generally in the fall—and
begins the final selection process at that time.

Using the discretion granted to the Administrator under each of the
programs, the Office of the Administrator can apply additional
considerations to the information received from the program staff before
making final selections. For example, according to FHWA’s acting Deputy
Administrator, the Office of the Administrator may try to spread the
discretionary funds among as many states as possible to ensure
geographic equity. As a result, the final selections could differ from the
staffs’ groupings if these groupings provided the bulk of funding for only a
few states in a given program. The official also said that the Office of the
Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary, also pays close attention
to requests from Members of Congress in making the final project
selections. In addition, congressional legislation, in the form of earmarks,
may require the Secretary to fund a particular project through a
discretionary program. Other considerations may include whether the
requesters would be willing to accept partial funding, whether conditions
pertaining to the project have changed since the state originally requested
funding, and other factors, such as whether states have received an
equitable share of funding over time. The process is concluded when the
Office of the Administrator sends out the list of its selections.

The two phases differ in the extent of documentation available to explain
how decisions are made—that is, how program staff apply the criteria to
group the projects and how the Office of the Administrator makes the final
selections. Specifically, program staff provide written documentation of
the statutory and administrative criteria used to screen candidate projects,
as well as the project’s descriptions, the amounts of funding requested,
prior allocations to states, and congressional interest. In contrast, officials
in the Office of the Administrator could verbally describe the additional
factors they have considered in making the final project selections but
could not provide any written documentation that either explained the




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                        additional selection factors they used or how they applied these factors to
                        each candidate project. In addition, the final selection list that the Office of
                        the Administrator issues at the conclusion of the selection process does
                        not explain or justify why each project was selected.


                        The current process to select projects under the discretionary programs
Staff Priorities and    has been in place since fiscal year 1995. In general, under the current
Office of the           process, the Office of the Administrator relies more on its discretion in
Administrator’s Final   making the selections than it did under an earlier process that relied
                        almost entirely on program staffs’ analyses and recommendations. We
Selections Differ       found that under the current process, there were differences in the
                        projects selected by the Office of the Administrator and those given higher
                        priority by the FHWA staff responsible for evaluating and prioritizing the
                        projects.

                        Our analysis of the discretionary program’s selection process revealed that
                        two distinct processes existed during our review time frames. During
                        fiscal years 1992-94, program staff for each of the discretionary programs
                        we reviewed recommended specific projects and funding amounts after
                        ranking projects in order of priority. As displayed in figure 2, the Office of
                        the Administrator selected over 98 percent of all the projects that the
                        program staff recommended in fiscal years 1992-94 (180 projects selected
                        from 183 staff recommendations). For example, the Office of the
                        Administrator selected 15 of the 17 public lands projects recommended by
                        FHWA program staff in fiscal year 1992. Similarly, the Office of the
                        Administrator selected all of the six Interstate 4R projects recommended
                        by FHWA program staff for funding in fiscal year 1992.




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Figure 2: FHWA’s Office of the Administrator’s Selections of Staff’s Priority Projects as a Percentage of Total Projects
Selected, Fiscal Year 1992-97


Percentage selected
100




 80




 60




 40




 20




  0
           1992             1993           1994            1995             1996               1997
                  Recommended projects that the              Most promising and promising
                  Office of the Administrator                projects that the Office of the
                  selected                                   Administrator selected
                                             Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.




                                             The high level of consistency between the staffs’ recommendations and
                                             the Office of the Administrator’s selections changed after fiscal year 1994.
                                             For the fiscal year 1995 funding cycle, the Office of the Administrator
                                             directed the program staff to group the projects into four
                                             categories—most promising, promising, qualified, and not
                                             qualified—rather than provide specific project and funding
                                             recommendations. According to FHWA’s Acting Deputy Administrator, the
                                             Office of the Administrator found it difficult to make equitable decisions
                                             using the rank order lists and thus made the change to the groupings. The
                                             official also said that the process did not give the Office of the




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Administrator enough flexibility to take into account other equally
important considerations, such as the geographic distribution of funding.

As figure 2 shows, beginning in fiscal year 1995, the Office of the
Administrator selected a declining proportion of projects from the
higher-priority categories. In fiscal year 1995, 92 percent of the projects
that the Office of the Administrator selected were projects that staff had
categorized as “promising” or “most promising”; 69 percent in fiscal 1996;
and 59 percent in fiscal 1997—about 73 percent overall for the 3-year
period. This tendency was particularly evident in comparing the staffs’
groupings and the final project selections in three of the five programs we
reviewed—Public Lands, Interstate 4R, and Discretionary Bridge. For
example, in fiscal year 1997, while the Office of the Administrator selected
9 of the 36 public lands projects categorized as “most promising,” it also
selected 16 of 59 projects categorized as “qualified”—the lowest-priority
category for the public lands program that year. Half of all public lands
projects that the Office of the Administrator selected that year came from
the qualified category. In the Ferry Boats and Facilities Program there was
an initial decline from 100 to 80 percent for fiscal year 1995, but the
selection of most promising and promising projects remained around
80 percent for fiscal 1996-97.

For the other discretionary program we reviewed—Interstate
Discretionary—the projects that the program staff categorized as “higher
priority” were the ones selected by the Office of the Administrator. The
results occurred under the selection procedures in place during fiscal
years 1992-97. The Office of the Administrator selected 100 percent of the
projects recommended by the program staff during fiscal years 1992-94
and 100 percent of those that the staff placed in the most promising
category during fiscal 1995-97.3 The change in the selection process did not
affect the Interstate Discretionary Program because the funds available for
the program during fiscal years 1993-97 exceeded the requests; all eligible
candidate projects were selected for full funding. (Details on the Office of
the Administrator’s selections for fiscal years 1992-97 are provided in apps.
I-V for the five programs we reviewed.)

FHWA officials stated that the selection of projects in lower-priority
categories did not mean that the Office of the Administrator was making
poor transportation investments. FHWA officials stated that most of the
states’ project submissions could be considered good projects, given the

3
 For fiscal years 1995-97, the staff categorized all eligible Interstate Discretionary projects as most
promising; any other projects were categorized as “not qualified.”



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                  tremendous Interstate infrastructure needs and tight federal-aid funding.
                  Therefore, they believed it would be unlikely that the Office of the
                  Administrator could select a poor project for funding. In addition, our
                  analyses revealed no instance where the Office of the Administrator
                  selected a project that staff had classified as statutorily ineligible project
                  during fiscal years 1995-97.4


                  We provided DOT with draft copies of this report for review and comment.
Agency Comments   We met with DOT officials—including the FHWA Acting Administrator,
                  Acting Deputy Administrator, and Associate Administrator for Program
                  Development—to discuss their comments. DOT did not have any comments
                  on the report’s overall findings but requested that the report be modified
                  to address two general areas of concern. First, the Department indicated
                  that it wanted us to broaden our discussion of the additional factors that
                  the Office of the Administrator uses to make final project selections.
                  Second, the Department suggested that we modify our analysis of the
                  project selection statistics to account for the financial limitations of the
                  programs. DOT said that because several of the discretionary requests
                  greatly exceeded the available funding, the promising and most promising
                  categories contained more projects than could be selected. DOT noted that
                  because our analyses did not take this funding limitation into account, our
                  analyses implied that the Office of the Administrator chose many projects
                  from the lower-priority categories.

                  In response to DOT’s comments, we included additional information on the
                  factors that the Office of the Administrator considers in making project
                  selections in the body of the report. We revised our analysis of the projects
                  the Office of the Administrator selected for funding in fiscal years 1995-97
                  to address DOT’s second concern. We also included additional information
                  in the appendixes on the funds allocated to projects in each category for
                  fiscal years 1995-97. Other editorial comments provided by the Department
                  have been incorporated where appropriate.


                  To identify the criteria and selection process that DOT used to select
Scope and         projects for discretionary funding, we obtained from FHWA officials
Methodology       information that documented the process followed for each program
                  during fiscal years 1992-97. The information from FHWA described the

                  4
                   In fiscal year 1996, the Office of the Administrator selected one project from the Ferry Boats and
                  Facilities Program that the staff determined to be statutorily ineligible. Funding for the project is
                  contingent upon a change in the ownership of the ferry boat facility from private to public. Therefore,
                  we categorized this project as “other.”



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number and dollar amount of projects submitted for funding, the statutory
and administrative criteria for eligibility and selection, and the Office of
the Administrator’s final project selections. Some of the documents also
included information about congressional interest and whether the
Congress had earmarked any of the program dollars. We discussed the
programs with officials in FHWA’s Office of Engineering who had
knowledge of each program, as well as with FHWA’s Acting Deputy
Administrator, who summarized the factors used by the Office of the
Administrator to determine which projects would receive funding. We also
met with officials in one FHWA regional office to discuss their role in the
discretionary programs.

To determine how changes in the process have affected which projects
DOT selects for discretionary funding, we examined the staffs’ analysis of
the projects submitted for funding in each program, as well as the Office of
the Administrator’s subsequent project selections. We then compared the
project selections resulting from the process that the Department
currently uses with the project selections resulting from the process used
during fiscal years 1992-94. We performed our review from July through
September 1997 in accordance with generally accepted government
auditing standards.


As arranged with your offices, unless you publicly announce its contents
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days after the
date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies of this report to the
Secretary of Transportation, the Acting Administrator, FHWA; cognizant
congressional committees; and other interested parties. We will make
copies available to others upon request.

Please call me at (202) 512-2834 if you or your staff have any questions.
Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix VI.




John H. Anderson, Jr.
Director, Transportation Issues




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Contents



Letter                                                                                             1


Appendix I                                                                                        18

Public Lands
Highways
Appendix II                                                                                       22

Discretionary Bridge
Appendix III                                                                                      26

Interstate
Discretionary
Appendix IV                                                                                       30

Interstate 4R
Discretionary
Appendix V                                                                                        33

Ferry Boats and
Facilities
Appendix VI                                                                                       36

Major Contributors to
This Report
Tables                  Table 1: DOT’s Funding of Five Discretionary Highway Programs,             4
                          Fiscal Years 1992-97
                        Table 2: Statutory and Administrative Criteria for the                     7
                          Discretionary Programs
                        Table I.1: Amount of Public Lands Highways Funds Requested                19
                          and Allocated, Fiscal Years 1992-97
                        Table I.2: Public Lands Highways Allocations for Top Five States,         19
                          Fiscal Years 1992-97




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Contents




Table I.3: Staffs’ Recommendations for the Public Lands                    20
  Highways Program and the Office of the Administrator’s
  Selections, Fiscal Years 1992-94
Table I.4: Projects That the Office of the Administrator Selected          20
  for Public Lands Highways Funding, Fiscal Years 1995-97
Table I.5: Funds Allocated to Public Lands Highways                        21
  Discretionary Projects by Category, Fiscal Years 1995-97
Table II.1: Amount of Discretionary Bridge Program Funds                   23
  Requested and Allocated, Fiscal Years 1992-97
Table II.2: Discretionary Bridge Allocations for Top Five States,          23
  Fiscal Years 1992-97
Table II.3: Staffs’ Recommendations for the Discretionary Bridge           24
  Program and the Office of the Administrator’s Selections, Fiscal
  Years 1992-94
Table II.4: Projects That the Office of the Administrator Selected         24
  for Discretionary Bridge Funding, Fiscal Years 1995-97
Table II.5: Funds Allocated to Discretionary Bridge Projects by            25
  Category, Fiscal Years 1995-97
Table III.1: Amount of Interstate Discretionary Funds Requested            27
  and Allocated, Fiscal Years 1992-97
Table III.2: Interstate Discretionary Allocations for Top Five             27
  States, Fiscal Years 1992-97
Table III.3: Staffs’ Recommendations for the Interstate                    28
  Discretionary Program and the Office of the Administrator’s
  Selections, Fiscal Years 1992-94
Table III.4: Projects That the Office of the Administrator Selected        28
  for Interstate Discretionary Funding, Fiscal Years 1995-97
Table III.5: Funds Allocated to Interstate Discretionary Projects          29
  by Category, Fiscal Years 1995-97
Table IV.1: Amount of Interstate 4R Discretionary Funds                    30
  Requested and Allocated, Fiscal Years 1992-97
Table IV.2: Interstate 4R Discretionary Allocations for Top Five           31
  States, Fiscal Years 1992-97
Table IV.3: Staffs’ Recommendations for the Interstate 4R                  31
  Program and the Office of the Administrator’s Selections, Fiscal
  Years 1992-94
Table IV.4: Projects That the Office of the Administrator Selected         32
  for Interstate 4R Discretionary Funding, Fiscal Years 1995-97
Table IV.5: Funds Allocated to Interstate 4R Discretionary                 32
  Projects by Category, Fiscal Years 1995-97




Page 15                             GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
          Contents




          Table V.1: Amount of Ferry Boats and Facilities Program Funds              33
            Requested and Allocated, Fiscal Years 1992-97
          Table V.2: Ferry Boats and Facilities Allocations for Top Five             34
            States, Fiscal Years 1992-97
          Table V.3: Staffs’ Recommendations for the Ferry Boats and                 34
            Facilities Program and the Office of the Administrator’s
            Selections, Fiscal Years 1992-94
          Table V.4: Projects that the Office of the Administrator Selected          35
            for Ferry Boats and Facilities Funding, Fiscal Years 1995-97
          Table V.5: Funds Allocated to Ferry Boats and Facilities                   35
            Discretionary Projects by Category, Fiscal Years 1995-97

Figures   Figure 1: Chronology of FHWA’s Project Selection Process                    5
          Figure 2: FHWA’s Office of the Administrator’s Selections of               10
            Staff’s Priority Projects as a Percentage of Total Projects
            Selected, Fiscal Year 1992-97




          Abbreviations

          DOT        Department of Transportation
          FHWA       Federal Highway Administration
          GAO        General Accounting Office
          ISTEA      Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991


          Page 16                             GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
Page 17   GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
Appendix I

Public Lands Highways


Program’s name:       Public Lands Highways.

Background:           The Public Lands Program was initially established in 1930. The
                      Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970 changed the funding source for the
                      program from the general fund to the Highway Trust fund, effective in
                      fiscal year 1972. The funding level for public lands highways was
                      $16 million per year during fiscal years 1972-82. The Surface
                      Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (1982 STAA, P.L. 97-424) increased
                      the annual authorization level to $50 million for fiscal years 1983-86, but
                      the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987
                      (1987 STURAA, P.L. 100-17) reduced this amount to $40 million for fiscal
                      1987-91. The program funds projects that are within, adjacent to, or
                      provide access to the areas served by public lands highways—such as
                      roads in national parks, forests, or Indian reservations.

Eligibility:          Public Lands Highways funds may be used on eligible public lands
                      highways, defined by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency
                      Act of 1991 (ISTEA) (P.L. 102-240) as (1) a forest road or (2) any highway
                      through unappropriated or unreserved public lands; nontaxable Indian
                      lands; or other federal reservations that are under the jurisdiction of and
                      maintained by a public authority and open to public travel. A variety of
                      activities are eligible, including planning, research, engineering, and
                      construction. Projects ranging from reconstructing a road to adding
                      parking facilities are eligible.

Federal share:        One hundred percent.

ISTEA’s provisions:   ISTEA authorized the following funding levels for the Public Land Highways
                      Program: fiscal year 1992—$48.62 million; fiscal 1993—$58.14 million;
                      fiscal 1994—$58.14 million; fiscal 1995—$58.14 million; fiscal
                      1996—$58.48 million; and fiscal 1997—$58.48 million. Funds remain
                      available for the fiscal year allocated plus 3 years.

Funding:              See table I.1.




                      Page 18                              GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
                                          Appendix I
                                          Public Lands Highways




Table I.1: Amount of Public Lands
Highways Funds Requested and              Dollars in millions
Allocated, Fiscal Years 1992-97           Fiscal year                                         Requested                   Allocated
                                          1992                                                     $158.9                     $43.0
                                          1993                                                      178.0                       60.8
                                          1994                                                      181.7                       56.2
                                          1995                                                      139.8                       54.0
                                          1996                                                      173.0                       49.5
                                          1997                                                      249.0                       55.6
                                          Total                                                  $1,080.4                    $319.1
                                          Note: Totals may not add because of rounding.

                                          Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



Allocations by state:                     During fiscal years 1992-97, the top five recipient states received about
                                          37 percent of all Public Lands Highway allocations. (See table I.2.)

Table I.2: Public Lands Highways
Allocations for Top Five States, Fiscal   Dollars in millions
Years 1992-97                             State                                                  Amount          Percentage of total
                                          California                                                $31.2                        10
                                          Nevada                                                     25.4                         8
                                          Arizona                                                    23.4                         7
                                          Oregon                                                     19.9                         6
                                          Montana                                                    19.8                         6
                                          Total, all states                                        $319.1                       100
                                          Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



Project selections:                       During fiscal years 1992-94, FHWA’s Office of the Administrator selected
                                          97 percent of the projects that the FHWA staff recommended for funding.
                                          (See table I.3.)




                                          Page 19                                         GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
                                             Appendix I
                                             Public Lands Highways




Table I.3: Staffs’ Recommendations for the Public Lands Highways Program and the Office of the Administrator’s
Selections, Fiscal Years 1992-94
                                                        Number of staff-                                 Percentage of staff-
                        Number of projects      recommended projects Number of other projects        recommended projects
Fiscal                         that the staff      that the Office of the   that the Office of the      that the Office of the
year                         recommended        Administrator selected    Administrator selected     Administrator selected
1992                                      17                                15                                   3                                   88
1993                                      19                                19                                   1                              100
1994                                      23                                23                                   2                              100
Total                                     59                                57                                   6                                   97
                                             Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



                                             During fiscal years 1995-97, FHWA’s Office of the Administrator selected a
                                             declining percentage of projects grouped in the most promising and
                                             promising categories. (See table I.4.)


Table I.4: Projects That the Office of the Administrator Selected for Public Lands Highways Funding, Fiscal Years 1995-97
                       Total number of
                      projects that the
                           Office of the    Most promising and promising projects       Qualified, not qualified, and other projects
Fiscal                    Administrator  that the Office of the Administrator selected that the Office of the Administrator selected
year                           selected                Number     Percentage of total                Number       Percentage of total
1995                                30                        28                          93                            2                             7
1996                                31                        19                          61                          12a                            39
1997                                32                        14                          44                          18a                            56
Total                               93                        61                          66                          32b                            34
                                             a
                                              The Office of the Administrator selected two projects in fiscal year 1996 and two projects in fiscal
                                             1997 that we categorized as “other” because the program staff did not group these projects in
                                             one of the four categories.
                                             b
                                              The Office of the Administrator did not select any projects that the staff categorized as “not
                                             qualified” (statutorily ineligible.)

                                             Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



                                             During fiscal years 1995-97, the Office of the Administrator allocated a
                                             declining proportion of dollars to projects the staff categorized as “most
                                             promising” or “promising.” (See table I.5.)




                                               Page 20                                         GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
                                       Appendix I
                                       Public Lands Highways




Table I.5: Funds Allocated to Public
Lands Highways Discretionary           Dollars in millions
Projects by Category, Fiscal Years                                                     Dollars allocated
1995-97                                                                                         for most     Dollars allocated for
                                                   Total dollars allocated        promising/promising      qualified, not qualified,
                                                     for projects that the      projects that the Office   and other projects that
                                       Fiscal                 Office of the        of the Administrator            the Office of the
                                       year        Administrator selected                       selected   Administrator selected
                                       1995                            $55.9                       $55.5                       $0.4
                                       1996                             49.5                        29.6                       20.0
                                       1997                             55.6                        22.1                       33.5
                                       Total                          $161.0                      $107.2                      $53.9
                                       Note: Totals may not add because of rounding.

                                       Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.




                                       Page 21                                         GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
Appendix II

Discretionary Bridge


Program’s name:       Discretionary Bridge.

Background:           The Discretionary Bridge Program was established by the Surface
                      Transportation Assistance Act of 1978 (1978 STAA, P.L. 95-599). The 1978
                      legislation required that $200 million be withheld from the Highway Bridge
                      Replacement and Rehabilitation Program apportionment for each of fiscal
                      years 1979-82 to be used by the Secretary of Transportation as a
                      discretionary fund to replace or rehabilitate bridges that cost more than
                      $10 million each or twice the state’s apportionment. The Surface
                      Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 continued the program at the same
                      funding level through fiscal year 1986. The act also provided that the
                      Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) establish a formal process to rank
                      and select discretionary bridge projects for funding. The act also decreed
                      that discretionary bridge projects be on a federal-aid highway system. The
                      Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987
                      increased the discretionary set-aside to $225 million for each fiscal year
                      during 1987-91.

Eligibility:          Eligible projects are bridge rehabilitation or replacement projects that cost
                      more than $10 million or at least twice the amount of Highway Bridge
                      Replacement and Rehabilitation Program funds apportioned to the state in
                      which the bridge is located. The discretionary bridge projects must be on a
                      federal-aid system. Candidate bridges must have a rating factor of 100 or
                      less to be eligible, unless they were selected prior to November 1983.

Federal share:        Eighty percent. Bridge projects that are on the Interstate Highway System
                      and have been selected for discretionary bridge funding will receive
                      funding at 50 percent of the requested amount primarily because other
                      Interstate discretionary funds are available.

ISTEA’s provisions:   ISTEA continued the program and authorized that $349.5 million be set
                      aside over the 6-year period fiscal 1992-97—$49 million for fiscal 1992,
                      $59.5 million each for fiscal 1993-94, and $60.5 million each for fiscal
                      1995-97.

Funding:              See table II.1.




                      Page 22                             GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
                                          Appendix II
                                          Discretionary Bridge




Table II.1: Amount of Discretionary
Bridge Program Funds Requested and        Dollars in millions
Allocated, Fiscal Years 1992-97           Fiscal year                                         Requested                   Allocated
                                          1992                                                     $570.7                     $49.8
                                          1993                                                      420.4                       61.3
                                          1994                                                      266.2                       63.3
                                          1995                                                      365.3                       52.6
                                          1996                                                      590.2                       66.0
                                          1997                                                      691.1                       60.6
                                          Total                                                  $2,903.9                    $353.6
                                          Note: Totals may not add because of rounding.

                                          Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



Allocations by state:                     During fiscal years 1992-97, the top five recipient states received about
                                          69 percent of all Discretionary Bridge allocations. (See table II.2.)

Table II.2: Discretionary Bridge
Allocations for Top Five States, Fiscal   Dollars in millions
Years 1992-97                             State                                                  Amount          Percentage of total
                                          New York                                                  $68.8                        20
                                          Illinois                                                   64.8                        18
                                          Minnesota                                                  47.2                        13
                                          Colorado                                                   39.1                        11
                                          Connecticut                                                22.8                         6
                                          Total, all states                                        $353.6                       100
                                          Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



Project selections:                       During fiscal years 1992-94, the Office of the Administrator selected
                                          100 percent of the projects that the FHWA program staff recommended for
                                          funding. (See table II.3.)




                                          Page 23                                         GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
                                             Appendix II
                                             Discretionary Bridge




Table II.3: Staffs’ Recommendations for the Discretionary Bridge Program and the Office of the Administrator’s Selections,
Fiscal Years 1992-94
                                                        Number of staff-                                   Percentage of staff-
                         Number of projects     recommended projects Number of other projects          recommended projects
Fiscal                        that the staff       that the Office of the     that the Office of the      that the Office of the
year                        recommended          Administrator selected    Administrator selected       Administrator selected
1992                                        3                                 3                                  0                             100
1993                                        7                                 7                                  0                             100
1994                                        8                                 8                                  2                             100
Total                                      18                               18                                   2                             100
                                             Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



                                             During fiscal years 1995-97, FHWA’s Office of the Administrator selected a
                                             declining percentage of the projects the program staff had categorized as
                                             “most promising” and “promising.” (See table II.4.)


Table II.4: Projects That the Office of the Administrator Selected for Discretionary Bridge Funding, Fiscal Years 1995-97
                       Total number of
                       projects that the
                            Office of the   Most promising and promising projects        Qualified, not qualified, and other projects
Fiscal                    Administrator   that the Office of the Administrator selected that the Office of the Administrator selected
year                            selected                Number     Percentage of total                Number       Percentage of total
1995                                  8                         7                         88                            1                        12
1996                                 11                         8                         73                            3a                       27
                                                                                                                         a
1997                                 20                       10                          50                          10                         50
Total                                39                       25                          64                          14b                        36
                                             a
                                              The Office of the Administrator selected two projects in fiscal year 1996 that we categorized as
                                             “other” because the program staff did not group these projects in one of the five categories. The
                                             Office of the Administrator also selected one project in fiscal 1996 and eight projects in fiscal
                                             1997 that staff had categorized as “not qualified” for administrative reasons—projects requesting
                                             fourth quarter funding or whose total cost is extremely high.
                                             b
                                              The Office of the Administrator did not select any projects that the staff categorized as “not
                                             qualified” (statutorily ineligible.)

                                             Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



                                             During fiscal years 1995-97, the Office of the Administrator allocated about
                                             $126 million to projects the staff had categorized as either “most
                                             promising” or “promising.” (See table II.5.)




                                                Page 24                                        GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
                                   Appendix II
                                   Discretionary Bridge




Table II.5: Funds Allocated to
Discretionary Bridge Projects by   Dollars in millions
Category, Fiscal Years 1995-97                                                     Dollars allocated
                                                                                            for most     Dollars allocated for
                                               Total dollars allocated        promising/promising      qualified, not qualified,
                                                 for projects that the      projects that the Office   and other projects that
                                   Fiscal                 Office of the        of the Administrator            the Office of the
                                   year        Administrator selected                       selected   Administrator selected
                                   1995                            $52.6                       $42.8                       $9.8
                                   1996                             65.9                        54.5                       11.4
                                   1997                             60.6                        28.7                       31.9
                                   Total                          $179.1                      $126.0                      $53.1
                                   Note: Totals may not add because of rounding.

                                   Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.




                                   Page 25                                         GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
Appendix III

Interstate Discretionary


Program’s name:       Interstate Discretionary Program.

Background:           Originally created by section 115(a) of the Surface Transportation
                      Assistance Act of 1978 in order to accelerate construction of the Interstate
                      Highway System. The Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 and
                      the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation and Assistance Act of
                      1987 both continued and modified the Interstate Discretionary Program.

Eligibility:          Interstate Discretionary funds may be used for the same purpose as
                      Interstate Construction funds—initial construction of remaining portions
                      of the Interstate System. However, only work eligible under the provisions
                      of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1981 and included in the 1981 Interstate
                      Cost Estimate is eligible for Interstate Discretionary funding.

Federal share:        Ninety percent; 80 percent for projects that provide additional capacity,
                      unless added capacity is High Occupancy Vehicle or auxiliary lane (also
                      90-percent federal share).

ISTEA’s provisions:   Section 1020 of ISTEA revised 23 U.S.C. 118(b), (c) & (d) and authorized a
                      $100 million per year set-aside from the Interstate Construction Program
                      for the Interstate Discretionary Program annually for fiscal years 1992-96.1
                      FHWA also provided Interstate Discretionary funds from lapsed Interstate
                      Construction funds that had reached the end of their availability period.
                      The funds are available until expended. Currently, there is a balance of
                      approximately $61 million available for future Interstate Discretionary
                      allocations.

Funding:              See table III.1.




                      1
                      ISTEA reduced the amount of funds set aside from the Interstate Construction Program for Interstate
                      Discretionary funds from $300 million authorized under STURAA to $100 million.



                      Page 26                                        GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
                                          Appendix III
                                          Interstate Discretionary




Table III.1: Amount of Interstate
Discretionary Funds Requested and         Dollars in millions
Allocated, Fiscal Years 1992-97           Fiscal year                                            Requested                           Allocated
                                          1992                                                        $747.8                             $149.9
                                          1993                                                          275.7                               302.3a
                                          1994                                                          375.0                               796.8b
                                          1995                                                          272.4                               289.6c
                                          1996                                                             2.4                                  2.4
                                          1997                                                          103.3                                12.9d
                                          Total                                                     $1,776.6                           $1,553.9
                                          Note: Totals may not add because of rounding.
                                          a
                                           All eligible projects were fully funded—South Carolina subsequently returned their allocation.
                                          FHWA also allocated an additional $51 million during the year to three states.
                                          b
                                           All eligible projects were fully funded—Massachusetts submitted an application for $125 million
                                          but was not eligible. FHWA allocated an additional $547 million during the year to 10 states.
                                          c
                                           All eligible projects were fully funded—the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and
                                          Texas each submitted applications that were not eligible for funds. FHWA allocated an additional
                                          $168 million for base allocations to eight states. The base allocation was a one-time allocation of
                                          Interstate Discretionary funds for states whose final Interstate Construction apportionment would
                                          not allow them to complete the Interstate System.
                                          d
                                           All eligible projects were fully funded—Pennsylvania submitted applications for $63 million but
                                          was not eligible. In addition, Washington state later withdrew its application for $27 million.

                                          Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



Allocations by state:                     During fiscal years 1992-97, the top five recipient states received about
                                          72 percent of all Interstate Discretionary allocations. (See table III.2.)

Table III.2: Interstate Discretionary
Allocations for Top Five States, Fiscal   Dollars in millions
Years 1992-97                             State                                                     Amount               Percentage of total
                                          Hawaii                                                      $439.2                                    28
                                          Washington                                                    295.9                                   19
                                          Pennsylvania                                                  157.8                                   10
                                          South Carolina                                                114.5                                    7
                                          Virginia                                                      110.4                                    7
                                          Total, all states                                         $1,553.9                                 100
                                          Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.




                                          Page 27                                          GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
                                             Appendix III
                                             Interstate Discretionary




Project selections:                          During fiscal years 1992-94, FHWA’s Office of the Administrator selected
                                             100 percent of the projects that FHWA staff recommended for funding. (See
                                             table III.3.)


Table III.3: Staffs’ Recommendations for the Interstate Discretionary Program and the Office of the Administrator’s
Selections, Fiscal Years 1992-94
                                                         Number of staff-                                   Percentage of staff-
                          Number of projects     recommended projects Number of other projects          recommended projects
Fiscal                         that the staff       that the Office of the     that the Office of the      that the Office of the
year                         recommended          Administrator selected     Administrator selected      Administrator selected
1992                                        7                                  7                                0                    100
1993                                      28                                 28                                 0                    100
1994                                      20                                 20                                 0a                   100
Total                                     55                                 55                                 0                    100
                                             a
                                                FHWA allocated funds to an additional 12 projects during the year.

                                             Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



                                             During fiscal years 1995-97, FHWA’s Office of the Administrator also
                                             selected all of the eligible projects for full funding, since the amount
                                             available for allocation exceeded the amount requested. (See table III.4.)


Table III.4: Projects That the Office of the Administrator Selected for Interstate Discretionary Funding, Fiscal Years 1995-97
                        Total number of
                       projects that the
                            Office of the    Most promising and promising projects        Qualified, not qualified or other projects
                          Administrator that the Office of the Administrator selected that the Office of the Administrator selected
Fiscal year                     selected               Number      Percentage of total                Number      Percentage of total
1995                                15                          15                       100                         0                 0
1996                                  1                          1                       100                         0                 0
1997                                  3                          3                       100                         0                 0
Total                               19                          19                       100                         0                 0
                                             Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



                                             During fiscal years 1995-97, the staff categorized all eligible projects as
                                             “most promising,” and all eligible projects were funded. (See table III.5.)




                                                Page 28                                        GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
                                       Appendix III
                                       Interstate Discretionary




Table III.5: Funds Allocated to
Interstate Discretionary Projects by   Dollars in millions
Category, Fiscal Years 1995-97                                                           Dollars allocated
                                                                                                  for most         Dollars allocated for
                                                    Total dollars allocated         promising/promising          qualified, not qualified,
                                                      for projects that the       projects that the Office       and other projects that
                                       Fiscal                  Office of the         of the Administrator                the Office of the
                                       year         Administrator selected                        selected       Administrator selected
                                       1995                             $121.6a                       $121.6                                 $0
                                       1996                                 2.4                            2.4                                0
                                       1997                               12.9                           12.9                                 0
                                       Total                            $136.9                        $136.9                                 $0
                                       Note: Totals may not add because of rounding.
                                       a
                                        The Office of the Administrator allocated an additional $168 million for base allocations to eight
                                       states. The base allocation was a one-time allocation of Interstate Discretionary funds for states
                                       whose final Interstate Construction apportionment would not allow them to complete the Interstate
                                       System.

                                       Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.




                                       Page 29                                         GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
Appendix IV

Interstate 4R Discretionary


Program’s name:                       Interstate 4R Discretionary Program.

Background:                           Originally created by section 115 (a) of the Surface Transportation
                                      Assistance Act of 1982. Funds were provided for the program from lapsed
                                      Interstate 4R apportionments, with additional criteria. The Surface
                                      Transportation and Uniform Relocation and Assistance Act of 1987
                                      provided for a $200 million set-aside for each of the fiscal years 1988-92
                                      from the Interstate 4R authorization for the continuation of the Interstate
                                      4R discretionary fund and provided criteria/factors to be used in the
                                      distribution of funds.

Eligibility:                          Interstate 4R discretionary funds may be used for resurfacing, restoring,
                                      rehabilitating, and reconstructing the Interstate System, including
                                      providing additional capacity.

Federal share:                        Ninety percent. The federal share may be increased up to 95 percent in
                                      states with large areas of public lands and up to 100 percent for safety,
                                      traffic control, and car/vanpool projects.

ISTEA’s provisions:                   Section 1020 of ISTEA amended 23 U.S.C. 118 (c)(2) and set aside
                                      $54 million for fiscal year 1992, $64 million each year for fiscal 1993-96,
                                      and $65 million for fiscal 1997. Of the amounts set aside, ISTEA required
                                      that $16 million for fiscal year 1992 and $17 million for each of fiscal 1993
                                      and 1994 be used for improvements on the Kennedy Expressway in
                                      Chicago, Illinois. ISTEA terminated the apportioned Interstate 4R Fund
                                      Program and provided that the Interstate 4R set-aside come from the
                                      National Highway System program.

Funding:                              See table IV.1.

Table IV.1: Amount of Interstate 4R
Discretionary Funds Requested and     Dollars in millions
Allocated, Fiscal Years 1992-97       Fiscal year                                         Requested                   Allocated
                                      1992                                                     $434.7                     $55.9
                                      1993                                                      784.2                       65.5
                                      1994                                                      618.2                       68.9
                                      1995                                                      577.9                       65.4
                                      1996                                                      687.2                       66.2
                                      1997                                                    1,280.4                       66.4
                                      Total                                                  $4,382.6                    $388.3
                                      Note: Totals may not add because of rounding.

                                      Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.




                                      Page 30                                         GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
                                            Appendix IV
                                            Interstate 4R Discretionary




Allocations by state:                       During fiscal years 1992-97, the top five recipient states received about
                                            70 percent of all Interstate 4R Discretionary allocations. (See table IV.2.)

Table IV.2: Interstate 4R Discretionary
Allocations for Top Five States, Fiscal     Dollars in millions
Years 1992-97                               State                                           Amount           Percentage of total
                                            Oregon                                             $81.6                          21
                                            Colorado                                            66.5                          17
                                            Illinois                                            55.3                          14
                                            Texas                                               40.0                          10
                                            Nebraska                                            29.3                           8
                                            Total, all states                                 $388.3                         100
                                            Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



Project selections:                        During fiscal years 1992-94, FHWA’s Office of the Administrator selected
                                           94 percent of the projects that FHWA staff recommended for funding. (See
                                           table IV.3.)


Table IV.3: Staffs’ Recommendations for the Interstate 4R Program and the Office of the Administrator’s Selections, Fiscal
Years 1992-94
                                                        Number of staff-                                    Percentage of staff-
                        Number of projects      recommended projects Number of other projects           recommended projects
Fiscal                             that the        that the Office of the     that the Office of the       that the Office of the
year                    staff recommended       Administrator selected     Administrator selected       Administrator selected
1992                                       6                              6                        0                         100
1993                                       6                              5                        1                          83
1994                                       6                              6                        0                         100
Total                                     18                              17                       1                          94
                                            Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



                                           During fiscal years 1995-97, about 76 percent of the projects that FHWA’s
                                           Office of the Administrator selected for funding were those the staff
                                           grouped in the most promising and promising categories. (See table IV.4.)




                                               Page 31                               GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
                                             Appendix IV
                                             Interstate 4R Discretionary




Table IV.4: Projects That the Office of the Administrator Selected for Interstate 4R Discretionary Funding, Fiscal Years
1995-97
                       Total number of
                      projects that the
                           Office of the   Most promising and promising projects        Qualified, not qualified, and other projects
Fiscal                   Administrator   that the Office of the Administrator selected that the Office of the Administrator selected
year                           selected                Number     Percentage of total                Number       Percentage of total
1995                                  6                         6                        100                            0                         0
1996                                  7                         4                         57                            3                        43
1997                                  8                         6                         75                            2                        25
Total                               21                         16                         76                            5a                       24
                                             a
                                              The Office of the Administrator did not select any projects that the staff categorized as “not
                                             qualified” (statutorily ineligible) or any projects that we categorized as “other.”

                                             Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



                                             During fiscal years 1995-97, the Office of the Administrator allocated
                                             $173 million to projects that the staff had categorized as “most promising”
                                             or “promising.” (See table IV.5.)

Table IV.5: Funds Allocated to
Interstate 4R Discretionary Projects by      Dollars in millions
Category, Fiscal Years 1995-97                                                                  Dollars allocated
                                                                                                         for most          Dollars allocated for
                                                          Total dollars allocated          promising/promising           qualified, not qualified,
                                                            for projects that the        projects that the Office        and other projects that
                                             Fiscal                  Office of the          of the Administrator                 the Office of the
                                             year         Administrator selected                         selected        Administrator selected
                                             1995                               $65.4                          $65.4                             $0
                                             1996                                66.2                            51.8                           14.3
                                             1997                                66.4                            56.2                           10.2
                                             Total                            $198.0                          $173.4                           $24.5
                                             Note: Totals may not add because of rounding.

                                             Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.




                                             Page 32                                           GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
Appendix V

Ferry Boats and Facilities


Program’s name:                        Ferry Boats and Ferry Terminal Facilities.

Background:                            In 1991, ISTEA created a discretionary funding program for the construction
                                       of ferry boats and ferry terminal facilities and authorized funding from the
                                       Highway Trust Fund.

Eligibility:                           Ferry boats and facilities must be publicly owned. The operation of the
                                       ferry facilities must be on a route classified as a public road, except an
                                       Interstate route.

Federal share:                         Eighty percent.

ISTEA’s provisions:                    ISTEA authorized $100 million—$14 million in fiscal year 1992, $17 million
                                       each year for fiscal 1993-96, and $18 million for fiscal 1997. Funds are
                                       available until expended.

Funding:                               See table V.1.

Table V.1: Amount of Ferry Boats and
Facilities Program Funds Requested     Dollars in millions
and Allocated, Fiscal Years 1992-97    Fiscal year                                         Requested                   Allocated
                                       1992                                                      $66.9                     $14.0
                                       1993                                                      109.0                       15.3
                                       1994                                                       77.3                       19.0
                                       1995                                                       84.0                       17.2
                                       1996                                                       72.0                       14.9
                                       1997                                                       98.6                       18.2
                                       Total                                                    $507.8                     $98.6
                                       Note: Totals may not add because of rounding.

                                       Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



Allocations by state:                  During fiscal years 1992-97, the top five recipient states received about
                                       50 percent of all Ferry Boats and Facilities allocations. (See table V.2.)




                                       Page 33                                         GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
                                            Appendix V
                                            Ferry Boats and Facilities




Table V.2: Ferry Boats and Facilities
Allocations for Top Five States, Fiscal     Dollars in millions
Years 1992-97                               State                                           Amount           Percentage of total
                                            North Carolina                                     $14.6                         15
                                            Washington                                          14.5                         15
                                            Alaska                                               8.0                          8
                                            Michigan                                             6.2                          6
                                            New York                                             5.6                          6
                                            Total, all states                                  $98.6                        100
                                            Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



Project selections:                        During fiscal years 1992-94, FHWA’s Office of the Administrator selected
                                           100 percent of the projects that FHWA staff recommended for funding. (See
                                           table V.3.)


Table V.3: Staffs’ Recommendations for the Ferry Boats and Facilities Program and the Office of the Administrator’s
Selections, Fiscal Years 1992-94
                                                       Number of staff-                                    Percentage of staff-
                        Number of projects     recommended projects Number of other projects           recommended projects
Fiscal                         that the staff     that the Office of the      that the Office of the      that the Office of the
year                         recommended       Administrator selected       Administrator selected     Administrator selected
1992                                       7                              7                        0                        100
1993                                       9                              9                        0                        100
1994                                      17                             17                        0                        100
Total                                     33                             33                        0                        100
                                            Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



                                           During fiscal years 1995-97, about 81 percent of the projects that FHWA’s
                                           Office of the Administrator selected were those that the staff had grouped
                                           in the most promising and promising categories. (See table V.4.)




                                               Page 34                               GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
                                             Appendix V
                                             Ferry Boats and Facilities




Table V.4: Projects That the Office of the Administrator Selected for Ferry Boats and Facilities Funding, Fiscal Years
1995-97
                      Total number of
                      projects that the
                          Office of the    Most promising and promising projects        Qualified, not qualified, and other projects
Fiscal                  Administrator    that the Office of the Administrator selected that the Office of the Administrator selected
year                          selected                 Number     Percentage of total                Number       Percentage of total
1995                                  15                       12                         80                             3                           20
1996                                  18                       15                         83                             3a                          17
1997                                  20                       16                         80                             4                           20
Total                                 53                       43                         81                            10b                          19
                                             a
                                              The Office of the Administrator selected one project that the staff had classified as statutorily
                                             ineligible. Funding for the project is contingent upon a change in the ownership of the ferry boat
                                             facility from private to public. Therefore, we categorized this project as “other.”
                                             b
                                              The Office of the Administrator did not select any other projects that the staff categorized as “not
                                             qualified” (statutorily ineligible) or any projects that we categorized as “other.”

                                             Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.



                                             During fiscal years 1995-97, the FHWA Office of the Administrator allocated
                                             about $40 million to projects the staff had categorized as “most promising”
                                             or “promising.” (See table V.5.)

Table V.5: Funds Allocated to Ferry
Boats and Facilities Discretionary           Dollars in millions
Projects by Category, Fiscal Years                                                              Dollars allocated
1995-97                                                                                                  for most          Dollars allocated for
                                                          Total dollars allocated          promising/promising           qualified, not qualified,
                                                            for projects that the        projects that the Office        and other projects that
                                             Fiscal                  Office of the          of the Administrator                 the Office of the
                                             year         Administrator selected                         selected        Administrator selected
                                             1995                               $17.3                          $14.0                              $3.3
                                             1996                                14.9                            10.8                              4.1
                                             1997                                18.2                            15.4                              2.8
                                             Total                              $50.4                          $40.2                           $10.2
                                             Note: Totals may not add because of rounding.

                                             Source: GAO’s analysis of FHWA’s data.




                                             Page 35                                           GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
Appendix VI

Major Contributors to This Report


                       Joseph A. Christoff
Resources,             Bonnie Pignatiello Leer
Community, and         David I. Lichtenfeld
Economic               Gail F. Marnik
                       Jonathan Pingle
Development Division   Phyllis F. Scheinberg




(348037)               Page 36                   GAO/RCED-98-14 FHWA Discretionary Programs
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