What We Looked At
Since 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program has obligated more than $3.18 billion to eligible airports each fiscal year for airport development and planning. At the direction of Congress, FAA published its Policy and Procedures Concerning the Use of Airport Revenue (Revenue Use Policy) to define airport revenue and identify permitted and prohibited uses of that revenue. FAA amended this policy in 2014 to address revenue use for aviation fuel taxes. Given the importance of promoting effective stewardship of taxpayer dollars used to support the Nation’s airports, we initiated this audit. Our objective was to assess whether FAA’s oversight policies and procedures are sufficient to prevent or detect airport revenue diversion. For this audit, we focused on FAA’s efforts to ensure compliance with FAA’s rules for collecting and using aviation fuel taxes.
What We Found
Since amending its Revenue Use Policy, FAA has made progress confirming whether State and local Government laws comply with the amendments. However, the Agency has not yet tested or validated if the compliant jurisdictions use the proceeds from aviation fuel taxes according to the jurisdictions’ approved action plan. Without testing the jurisdictions’ approved action plan for using aviation fuel taxes, FAA cannot ensure that revenue is used for aviation‑related purposes as required by Federal regulations. In addition, the Agency has not taken enforcement actions against the five jurisdictions that are not yet in compliance with the amendments. According to Agency officials, the lack of testing, validation, and enforcement action is due to congressional guidance that encouraged the Agency to postpone enforcement. By potentially diverting aviation fuel tax revenue from airports for non‑aviation-related purposes, these jurisdictions increase the risk of hindering the airports’ ability to remain self‑sufficient and improve their infrastructure.
We made three recommendations to improve FAA’s oversight policies and procedures for preventing and detecting airport revenue diversion. FAA concurred with our recommendations and provided appropriate actions and completion dates. We consider all recommendations resolved but open pending completion of the planned actions.