Audit Reports

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Review of Congressional Earmarks Within Department of Transportation Programs

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On September 7, we issued our review of congressional earmarks within Department of Transportation programs. In August 2006, Senator Coburn requested that we conduct an independent analysis of congressional earmarks. Consistent with Senator Coburn's request, we determined (1) the total number and amount of earmarks within DOT for FY 2006, (2) the inclusion of earmarks in DOT's annual planning and project evaluation processes, and (3) the effects of earmarks on DOT's mission and goals.

Overall, we identified 8,056 earmarked projects within the Department's programs that received more than $8.54 billion for FY 2006. Our review of 7,760 earmarked projects valued at $8.05 billion within Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, and Federal Aviation Administration-which accounted for 99 percent of these earmarked projects-disclosed that 7,724 of the 7,760 projects either were not subject to the agencies' review and selection processes or bypassed the states' normal planning and programming processes. There were earmarked projects we reviewed that were evaluated as "highest" priority projects and would have been fully funded regardless of being earmarked. However, many earmarked projects considered by the agencies as low priority are being funded over higher priority, non-earmarked projects; and other earmarks are providing funds for projects that would otherwise be ineligible. We are not making any recommendations in this report as the nature of this review was to conduct and independent analysis of the amount and impact of congressional earmarks for the most recent fiscal year.