The Joint Program Office's Management of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program Needs to be Improved
On March 11, 2009, we issued our report on RITA’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office (JPO). We assessed whether the JPO is effectively managing and overseeing the ITS program by (a) tracking project results and outcomes, (b) managing the ITS budget and overseeing contracts, and (c) providing direction and cross–modal coordination. While ITS initiatives have achieved DOT–wide support, we found weaknesses in how the JPO measures project results, executes budget and contract procedures, and manages ITS research projects. Specifically, the JPO has not ensured that its contractors’ assessments of ITS projects have been useful, timely, or complete. In addition, contractors were producing costly, duplicative work. We also found the JPO was operating without documented budget procedures. As a result, ITS financial reports were not consistently reconciled in 2008, and nearly $20 million in unneeded funds was left on old contracts and agreements. Furthermore, we found the JPO lacked uniform project management standards and project benefit–cost analyses; such procedures might have mitigated cost overruns and delays experienced by several ITS initiatives. Finally, we found that the JPO needs to address conflicts of interest, such as allowing the Volpe Center to both oversee and administer the Safe Trip–21 project. Our recommendations to JPO focus on: (1) strengthening the ITS assessment program, (2) restructuring support contractor services, (3) documenting budget procedures, (4) coordinating with FHWA to de–obligate nearly $20 million in unneeded funds on old contracts and agreements, and (5) strengthening project management by requiring uniform procedures and benefit–cost analyses. We also recommend that RITA transfer oversight of the Safe Trip–21 project from Volpe to the JPO to avoid conflicts of interest and to comply with DOT Order 2300.8.