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Top Management Challenges Facing the Department of Transportation

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On March 10, 2009, the Inspector General testified on DOT’s top management challenges before the House Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. The Inspector General focused on short– and long–term actions that DOT should take to maximize investments in transportation and ensure transportation safety. The Inspector General also noted that the $48 billion for Department programs associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act adds new challenges to long–standing ones. Thus far, DOT has proactively responded to the recovery program, particularly by creating the Department Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) team to coordinate DOT–wide efforts. This past year, DOT also made progress on a number of important fronts. These include commissioning several new runways to improve capacity within the National Airspace System; committing to data–driven, risk–based oversight of bridge safety; and receiving a “clean” opinion on DOT’s financial statements. However, the Inspector General emphasized that more remains to be done in the areas of maintaining the safety of the traveling public, relieving congestion, and establishing long–term financing mechanisms for aviation and surface transportation programs. The Inspector General highlighted several specific focus areas for DOT: (1) building an effective acquisition workforce to ensure that the goals of the economic recovery program are achieved; (2) establishing effective contracting mechanisms and financial practices to facilitate sound business decisions, ensure returns on investment, and avoid wasteful spending; (3) reforming mechanisms to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse; (4) developing comprehensive oversight of highway and transit investments; (5) enhancing FAA’s ability to provide oversight of a dynamic aviation industry; (6) addressing obsolescence in the Nation’s aging surface infrastructure and enhancing surface safety programs; and (7) ensuring solvency in the Highway and Aviation Trust Funds to carry out its mission of enhancing mobility and reducing congestion.