Since fiscal year 2017, Congress has appropriated nearly $7.4 billion to the Department of Transportation for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), including $2 billion for fiscal year 2020. Amtrak has a unique role in and importance to the national passenger transportation network. For example, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Boston and Washington, D.C. carried an average of 33,215 riders a day in 2018. Since 2003, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has had an expanding role overseeing Amtrak’s use of these funds for capital investments, operating expenditures, and debt service. FRA administers the funding through two annual cooperative agreements—one that covers the NEC and another that covers Amtrak’s national network.
Congress has authorized FRA to use approximately $37 million between fiscal years 2017 and 2020 to fund its management and oversight activities related to Amtrak funds. In light of the significant annual Federal investment in Amtrak and FRA’s oversight role, we are initiating this audit. Our audit objective is to assess the effectiveness of FRA’s oversight of Federal funding to Amtrak.