July 21, 2021
FTA Made Progress in Providing Hurricane Sandy Funds but Weaknesses in Tracking and Reporting Reduce Transparency Into Their Use
What We Looked At
After Hurricane Sandy caused widespread damage to transportation infrastructure in October 2012, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act (DRAA) designated $10.9 billion for the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) new Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program. We assessed (1) FTA’s progress in allocating, obligating, and disbursing its Hurricane Sandy funding and (2) any weaknesses in these processes that we identified.
What We Found
Through December 31, 2020, FTA allocated and obligated approximately $10 billion—most of its Hurricane Sandy appropriation—but only disbursed about $4.3 billion. The pace was influenced by a number of factors, including but not limited to project construction planning and execution and the complexity of competitive resilience projects. As a result, over 8 years after the storm, more than half of the funds remain to be spent. We also found that FTA inconsistently tracks and reports Hurricane Sandy funding data or does not fully comply with Federal guidance. The Agency has allocation data in a variety of sources, but—as FTA does not have procedures to accurately communicate allocated amounts over time—the data from these sources do not align. Thus, FTA cannot use these data to determine whether obligation amounts for specific recipients and purposes stayed within the allocated amounts in FTA’s official documentation. Finally, FTA has not complied with a directive from the Office of Management and Budget to make DRAA obligation data readily identifiable on the USAspending.gov website. Overall, the weaknesses we identified reduced transparency for internal users, decision makers, and the public into FTA’s use of Hurricane Sandy funds.
We made two recommendations to improve FTA’s tracking and reporting on its use of Hurricane Sandy funds. FTA concurred with both recommendations and proposed appropriate actions and completion dates. Accordingly, we consider both recommendations as resolved but open pending completion of the planned actions.