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Most FHWA ARRA Projects Will Be Closed Out Before Funds Expire, but Weaknesses in the Project Close-Out Process Persist

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The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is responsible for ensuring that States close out projects timely, a critical step towards the final accounting of States’ use of Federal funds. As part of our the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) oversight mandate, we reviewed FHWA’s oversight of ARRA project closeouts and found that the vast majority of ARRA-funded Federal-aid highway and bridge projects have been closed out, but a small percentage of the remaining active projects will not be closed out before ARRA grant funds expire on September 30, 2015. While ARRA does not stipulate a deadline for project closeout, closeouts occurring before the expenditure deadline give States time to use any remaining ARRA funds on legitimate costs for other ARRA projects. Further, while FHWA has efforts underway to improve the Federal-aid project close-out process and address its Program Management Improvement Team review findings, internal control weaknesses persist and act as barriers to timely closeouts of ARRA and other Federal-aid highway projects. For example, FHWA lacks nationwide policy, performance measures, or standard timeframes for project closeout. FHWA concurred with our seven recommendations, which were focused on expediting remaining ARRA project closeouts, reducing the backlog of pending Federal-aid highway project closeouts, and addressing internal control weaknesses.




Closed on 03.22.2016
No. 1 to FHWA

Implement a national plan that outlines steps for Division Offices to expedite ARRA project closeouts. This plan should include a mechanism to ensure up-to-date estimates of project completion and close-out dates for the remaining active ARRA projects.

Closed on 02.01.2018
No. 2 to FHWA

Develop and implement a mechanism to track States' backlogs of project closeouts for both ARRA and non-ARRA Federal-aid projects.

Closed on 08.14.2019
No. 3 to FHWA

Develop and implement a national strategy to work with the States to reduce annual backlogs of project closeouts.

Closed on 08.14.2019
No. 4 to FHWA

Address all project close-out recommendations made in the 2013 and 2014 PMIT reviews.

Closed on 02.01.2018
No. 5 to FHWA

Monitor project close-out timeliness by developing and implementing national close-out timeframes and performance measures.

Closed on 02.28.2019
No. 6 to FHWA

After implementation of national close-out timeframes and performance measures, review each Division Office's Standard Operating Procedures to assess consistency with FHWA's national policy.

Closed on 02.01.2018
No. 7 to FHWA

Develop and implement a standard definition for the project completion date field in FMIS and require States to manually enter the project completion date into FMIS.