Opportunities to Free Up Unneeded FHWA Funds for Use in Hurricane Recovery Efforts
On March 6, we issued our report on opportunities for FHWA to free up unneeded funds on highway projects in five states affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas). With congressional approval, these earmarked funds could be freed up and redeployed to reduce the cost of hurricane recovery efforts. Because states often need several years to develop a project before beginning construction, we limited our audit to projects directed in legislation enacted on or before October 23, 2000. We identified 19 projects with $10.7 million in unneeded funds that could be redirected to hurricane recovery efforts. We recommended that FHWA: (1) coordinate with state transportation officials to promptly identify how earmarked funds in the 19 projects we identified could best be redirected for use on hurricane recovery efforts, and formally alert Congress of the available funds; (2) complete implementation of legislation allowing states to identify pre-1991 unneeded earmarked funds and use them on other transportation projects in the state without specific congressional action; and (3) provide Congress with a list of all unneeded earmarked funds on a regular basis. FHWA agreed with our recommendations.