Each year, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides about $40 billion in Federal funding to States for construction and improvements to the Nation’s highways and bridges. To ensure that States appropriately plan and budget for the use of these funds and meet Federal requirements Congress requires each State to submit to its FHWA Division Office and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Regional Office, a Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) that lists and describes each project that the State and metropolitan planning organizations plan to implement over a 4-year period. FHWA and FTA jointly approve each STIP to ensure that the State Departments of Transportation meet Federal requirements, such as fiscal constraint which demonstrates reasonably available project funding and reliable cost estimates. We conducted this audit to assess FHWA policies, procedures, and guidance for ensuring that STIPs receive comprehensive, consistent reviews and meet Federal requirements, including coordination with FTA.
Based on a sample of FHWA Division Offices, we determined that FHWA’s Guidance does not provide sufficient detail for STIP reviews in certain areas. Furthermore, FHWA Headquarters’ oversight process is not sufficient to routinely determine how well the Divisions ensure that the States comply with certain STIP requirements. As a result, most of the Division Offices we visited did not adequately document their STIP reviews or demonstrate sufficient action to ensure that the STIPs complied with Federal requirements for fiscal constraint. Furthermore, while FHWA’s Division Offices and FTA’s Regional Offices coordinated approval of STIPs, some Division Offices and FTA Regional Offices have not updated coordination agreements in a timely manner or mitigated duplicative reporting requirements.
We made five recommendations to strengthen FHWA’s oversight of Division Offices’ STIP reviews and clarify existing guidance to Division Offices. FHWA concurred with three of the recommendations.
Closed on 06.05.2019
No. 1 to FHWA
Establish minimum documentation requirements for FPFs and STIPs in guidance to Division Offices.
Closed on 11.19.2018
No. 2 to FHWA
Develop and implement an oversight process to monitor and provide feedback to Division Offices on their review and approval of STIPs, and ensure Division Offices comply with Federal regulations, especially in regard to verifying fiscal constraint and the States' cost estimation processes.
Closed on 06.05.2019
No. 3 to FHWA
Establish a centralized relational database to collect FPF information from the Division Offices and track recommendations and related corrective actions.
Closed on 01.24.2020
No. 4 to FHWA
Complete the update of the MOAs on coordination with FTA.
Closed on 02.11.2019
No. 5 to FHWA
Identify best practices of FHWA Division and FTA Regional Offices on coordination for development of Title VI plans, and distribute the best practices agency-wide.