The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) established the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection (AMJP) program in March 2021. To support the program, the ARPA appropriated $3 billion in funding via the Department of Transportation (DOT) through September 2023 for eligible companies engaged in aviation manufacturing and services, maintenance, repair, and overhaul activities. Program funds would allow these companies to continue paying employee wages, salaries, and benefits or rehire employees who were furloughed as a result of the pandemic, and Congress expected DOT to award the relief funds quickly. In April 2021, DOT established a process to accept, review, and award AMJP funding to eligible companies, relying on internal controls developed for emergency funding programs. An important DOT objective and a focus of our oversight is to ensure the Department’s proper stewardship of pandemic-related grants and newly created grant programs. Accordingly, our audit objective was to evaluate DOT’s processes to validate AMJP applicant data, allocate Government funding, and ensure funding was used lawfully.
What We Found
The COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented upheaval in the aviation manufacturing industry due to idled aircraft, declining aircraft maintenance and repair activity, and employee lay-offs. Through the AMJP program, DOT gave a “lifeline” to the industry by providing over $664 million to help 584 companies pay employee wages, salaries, and benefits or rehire furloughed personnel. DOT has appropriately managed the AMJP program, particularly given the urgency to aid the aviation manufacturing industry. Still, capturing the lessons learned from its AMJP oversight efforts will help the Department strengthen any grant programs targeted at future emergencies.
DOT concurred with our recommendation, and we consider the recommendation resolved but open pending completion of planned actions.
No. 1 to OST
Conduct an Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection program after-action review to identify lessons learned and incorporate improvements into future grant programs.