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Ensuring ARRA Funds are Spent Appropriately to Maximize Program Goals

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On May 4, 2011, the Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  The testimony focused on four key challenges DOT faces in ensuring American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars are spent appropriately to maximize program goals: (1) addressing vulnerabilities in two ARRA‑funded discretionary grant programs -- High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) and Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER); (2) meeting ARRA requirements for reporting on jobs and considering economic impact; (3) ensuring grantees provide effective project and financial management; and (4) preventing fraud, waste, and abuse. 

DOT faces substantial challenges in ensuring its HSIPR and TIGER programs meet ARRA’s reporting, transparency, and program and financial management requirements, and that the significant ARRA dollars obligated under these programs are not wasted.  DOT Office of Inspector General ARRA audits—which have primarily targeted the Federal Highway Administration, the largest custodian of DOT's ARRA dollars, and the Federal Aviation Administration—can help inform DOT regarding the critical decisions it must make in the future.  Specifically, DOT needs to improve jobs data reporting and grant selection processes to meet ARRA’s transparency and accountability requirements and its goal to optimize economic growth; strengthen project and financial oversight to ensure quality and maximize efficiency; and take proactive measures to combat fraud, waste, and abuse.