DOT Can Improve Oversight of Denali Commission's Use of Federal Transportation Funds
On February 9, 2011, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued its report on the Denali Commission's Use of Federal-aid Highway Funds. At the request of U.S. Senator Christopher S. Bond, we reviewed the Department of Transportation's (DOT's) administration of the program and the Denali Commission's use of Federal transportation funds. Our objectives were to: (1) identify the purpose, funding, and status of the Commission’s projects funded through FHWA and FTA; (2) assess the Commission’s project selection process; and (3) examine the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA's)oversight of the Commission’s use of DOT funds.
While we found that the Denali Commission had project evaluation criteria and approved appropriate types of projects, its project selection policy and process were insufficient to ensure that selections were made objectively and were transparent. Moreover, the Commission’s limited ethics guidance did not ensure that project selection officials appropriately recuse themselves from the selection process. Also, the Commission had no mechanisms by which to verify and hold selection officials accountable for appropriately recusing themselves. Nevertheless, we did not find specific instances of conflicts of interest. Further, Federal oversight of the transportation program was limited and we found shortfalls with required project documentation.
We made a series of recommendations for FHWA to assist the Commission and to ensure that Federal transportation funds are spent efficiently, effectively, and appropriately. Based on actions FHWA has taken, and our review of the documentation provided in response to our draft report, we consider all recommendations resolved. No further actions are required.