Lessons Learned From ARRA Could Improve the Federal Highway Administration's Use of Full Oversight
On May 7, 2013, we reported that FHWA inspections did not routinely verify whether States detected instances of noncompliance with some Federal requirements. For example, we projected that $125.6 million, or 12 percent, of ARRA progress payments made to contractors in three States were unsupported. Additionally, FHWA guidance does not adequately define full oversight. Rather, FHWA allows each of its Division Offices to determine the type, scope, and consistency of project inspections and the extent of supervision when performing full oversight inspections in these States. As a result, FHWA Division Offices rarely prepared written plans and did not fully document procedures performed or justify why they excluded some Federal requirements and related risk areas from review. Further, contrary to guidance, FHWA inspection reports had limited evidence of supervisory review. FHWA concurred with our recommendation to sample additional ARRA projects to mitigate any similar instances of noncompliance related to progress payment support. FHWA partially concurred with our recommended policy changes to improve its oversight of project-specific risks and document its risk assessment process and related project-level inspection procedures. FHWA cited its plans to develop an alternative oversight approach that would address our recommendations as well as new MAP-21 requirements. We consider all four recommendations resolved but open pending completion of planned actions.