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Testimony: 

Before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban 
Development, and Related Agencies; Committee on Appropriations; House 
of Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

For Release on Delivery Expected at 2:00 p.m. EST: 

March 6, 2007: 

Performance and Accountability: 

Transportation Challenges Facing Congress and the Department of 
Transportation: 

Statement of Patricia A. Dalton, Managing Director: 
Physical Infrastructure Issues: 

GAO-07-545T: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-07-545T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on 
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies; 
Committee on Appropriations; House of Representatives 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

A safe, efficient, and convenient transportation system is integral to 
the health of our economy and quality of life. Our nationís vast 
transportation system of airways, railways, roads, pipelines, transit, 
and waterways has served this need, yet it is under considerable strain 
from (1) increasing congestion, (2) the large costs to maintain and 
improve it, and (3) the human cost of over 44,000 people killed and 
over 2.5 million injured each year in transportation-related accidents. 

The Department of Transportation implements national transportation 
policy and administers most federal transportation programs. For fiscal 
year 2008, the department has requested $67 billion to carry out these 
and other activities. 

While the department carries out some activities directly, such as 
employing about 15,000 air traffic controllers to make certain that 
planes stay a safe distance apart, it does not have direct control over 
the vast majority of activities that it funds, such as local decisions 
on the priority and placement of airports, public transit, and roads. 
In other cases, such as railways and pipelines, the infrastructure is 
owned and operated by industry. 

This statement presents GAOís views on major transportation challenges 
facing Congress and the department. It is based on GAO products, 
including recommendations made, and the products of others. 

What GAO Found: 

Financing mechanisms for the nationís transportation system are under 
stress. Our nationís transportation infrastructure is threatened by 
increasing demand for transportation services, and revenue from 
traditional funding mechanisms for the nationís highway and aviation 
systems may be unable to keep pace at current tax rates. In addition, 
freight traffic is projected to grow substantially, but current 
planning and financing mechanisms impede public strategies to address 
needs. 

Our nationís mobility is threatened because the nationís infrastructure 
is under great strain. Congestion across modes (e.g., aviation, 
highways, and rail) is expected to worsen. However, funding by mode and 
the lack of performance-related goals result in little assurance that 
funds are being channeled to the most critical mobility concerns and 
that intermodal approaches can be integrated into the transportation 
system. 

Improvements in transportation safety are needed to reduce the number 
of deaths and injuries from transportation accidentsóabout 95 percent 
of which occur on our nationís roads. Increases in congestion across 
modes as a result of population and economic growth could cause 
deterioration in transportation safety despite departmental and state 
efforts to reduce accidents. 

The transition from the current air traffic control system to a broader 
and modernized system will be one of the departmentís most complex 
undertakings. In previous years, FAA has faced systemic management and 
acquisition problems that led us to designate its air traffic control 
modernization program as high risk. While the agency has made 
significant progress in recent years, a key challenge going forward 
will be to institutionalize these improvements and to continually 
improve. 

In addition, the department and the transportation sector face 
persistent human capital challenges due to an impending shortage of 
skilled people to meet changing transportation needs. Furthermore, 
despite recent improvements in financial management, the department 
received a qualified opinion on its 2006 financial statements. Finally, 
the department is working to clarify its role in transportation 
security and emergency preparedness and response. 

Photos: See PDF for Image. 

Source: Photodisc and Corbis. 

[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-545T]. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Patricia Dalton at (202) 
512-2834 or Daltonp@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

We appreciate the opportunity to participate in this hearing today to 
discuss transportation challenges facing Congress and the Department of 
Transportation. These issues are important for three reasons. First, 
the nation's economic vitality and its citizens' quality of life depend 
significantly on the soundness, safety, and security of its vast 
transportation system. This system fuels the nation's economic engine, 
facilitating the movement of goods and people. Second, transportation 
solutions are typically expensive, and the federal government's 
financial condition and fiscal outlook are worse than many may 
understand.[Footnote 1] This calls for a reexamination of the goals of 
transportation policy, how we hold stakeholders accountable for 
results, and how programs are financed. Finally, as an implementer of 
congressional policy, the Department of Transportation must be a high- 
performing agency--one that innovates, delivers results, is fiscally 
prudent, and has a workforce that can meet 21st century 
challenges.[Footnote 2] 

My remarks today focus on four primary transportation challenges and 
some that are continuing concerns. (See fig. 1.) Some are solely within 
the Department of Transportation's purview; some require congressional 
action as well. For the most part, these challenges are the ones that 
we identified in 2003 as part of our series of reports of performance 
and accountability challenges facing the federal government.[Footnote 
3] This is not because little or no progress has been made. In many 
cases there has been progress. Rather, it is because some of these 
challenges--such as improving mobility and transportation safety--are 
so vast, and the department's ability to address them is so indirect, 
that years of focused efforts will be needed to see measurable 
improvements. In addition to our completed work on these issues, we 
have a body of ongoing work that should be of use to Congress and the 
department as our country moves forward to improve the design of 
transportation programs, delivery of services, and accountability for 
results (See app. I and a list of related GAO products at the end of 
this statement). 

Figure 1: Major Challenges Facing Congress and the Department of 
Transportation: 

[See PDF for image] 

Sources: PhotoDisc and GAO. 

[End of figure] 

My statement is primarily based on work that we have completed over the 
past several years for Congress. We also reviewed assessments of the 
Department of Transportation's activities prepared by its Office of 
Inspector General and key departmental documents, such as its budget, 
strategic plan, and performance and accountability report. Finally, we 
discussed these issues with selected senior officials within the 
department. We conducted our work in February 2007 in accordance with 
generally accepted government auditing standards. 

In summary: 

* Financing mechanisms for the nation's transportation system are under 
stress. The efficiency of the nation's transportation infrastructure is 
threatened by increasing demand for transportation services, and 
revenue from traditional funding mechanisms may be unable to keep pace 
at current tax rates. Revenues to support the Highway Trust Fund--the 
major source of federal highway and transit funding--are eroding, with 
recent estimates forecasting a negative balance of more than $14 
billion by the end of fiscal year 2012. For aviation, there is concern 
that with the current funding system, the costs of providing and 
modernizing air traffic control services might increase without a 
corresponding increase in revenues collected from users. In the future, 
freight traffic is projected to grow substantially, putting strain on 
our nation's transportation systems, but current planning and financing 
mechanisms impede public strategies to address needs, and industry's 
ability to fund its capacity increases to meet growth is largely 
uncertain. As a result of these concerns, we designated financing the 
nation's transportation infrastructure as a high-risk issue this 
year.[Footnote 4] 

* The challenges in reforming transportation finance systems are 
critical to maintaining and improving our nation's mobility. The 
nation's infrastructure is under great strain; congestion across modes 
is significant and expected to worsen. However, federal funding levels 
are not linked to specific performance-related goals and outcomes, 
resulting in limited assurance that federal funding is being channeled 
to the nation's most critical mobility needs. Furthermore, federal 
funding is often tied to a single transportation mode, which may limit 
the use of federal funds to finance the greatest improvements in 
mobility. It is also unlikely that mobility can be enhanced unless 
major modes--air, highway, rail, transit, and water--are well 
connected. However, intermodal connections, such as multimodal 
passenger terminals and roads that link freight terminals and major 
highways, are among the transportation system's weakest links. 

The department is implementing a number of new initiatives aimed at 
mitigating congestion, including providing funds to local governments 
to test innovative ideas for curbing congestion and new funding for 
projects that have national or regional benefits. In the aviation 
arena, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is leading a 
multiagency effort to transform the air traffic control system in order 
to safely handle the projected growth in the demand for air travel. 
While these steps are encouraging, successfully addressing the nation's 
mobility needs requires strategic and intermodal approaches and 
solutions. 

* Improving transportation safety is an imperative. Each year over 
44,000 people are killed and over 2.5 million are injured in 
transportation-related accidents. Of particular concern is the limited 
progress in improving safety on our nation's roads, where about 95 
percent of all transportation fatalities occur. Projected increases in 
congestion across modes, as a result of population and economic growth, 
could cause deterioration in transportation safety despite vigorous 
efforts to reduce accidents. To address these problems, the department 
is carrying out a number of initiatives related to improving aviation, 
commercial motor carrier, highway, railroad, and pipeline safety. 
However, certain areas require increased attention. In particular, 
improvements in data, performance measures, and evaluations are needed 
to determine whether programs are achieving intended results. For 
example, agencies need to develop better measures of the direct results 
of their efforts--such as safety improvements made as a result of 
enforcement of safety standards--that contribute toward reductions in 
accidents. This information can also hold agencies accountable for the 
performance of their programs and support congressional oversight. 

* FAA has worked with the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) 
to design and plan the Next Generation Air Transportation System 
(NextGen) and will face challenges as it moves toward implementation 
and integration of NextGen systems.[Footnote 5] This transition from 
the current air traffic control system to the broader and modernized 
NextGen system will be one of the Department of Transportation's most 
complex undertakings. In previous years, FAA has faced systemic 
management and acquisition problems that led us to designate its air 
traffic control modernization program as high risk. FAA has made 
significant progress in its handling of air traffic control 
acquisitions, but a key challenge going forward will be to 
institutionalize these improvements and to continuously improve in this 
area. FAA and JPDO also need to provide Congress with a valid and 
comprehensive estimate of the costs of the NextGen system, including 
the identification and costs of necessary research, development, and 
demonstration projects. One limited, preliminary estimate concluded 
that FAA's budget under a NextGen scenario would average about $15 
billion per year through 2025, or about $1 billion more annually (in 
today's dollars) on average than FAA's fiscal year 2006 appropriation. 
JPDO has estimated that failure to achieve a timely transition to 
NextGen could result in a gap between the demand for air transportation 
services and available capacity that could cost the U.S. economy 
billions of dollars annually. 

* In addition, the department and the transportation sector as a whole 
face persistent human capital challenges that put their mission 
performance at risk. Both face an impending shortage of people with the 
skills and competencies they will need in the future. Furthermore, 
while the department has made significant improvements in recent years 
in its financial management, it received a qualified opinion on its 
2006 financial statements because of material weaknesses related to 
certain FAA activities. Finally, the department has retained some 
responsibilities and involvement in transportation security and 
emergency preparedness and response and is working with the Department 
of Homeland Security to further clarify its role. 

Background: 

The safe, efficient, and convenient movement of people and goods 
depends on a vibrant transportation system that meets those needs. Our 
nation has built a vast transportation system of roads, airways, 
railways, pipelines, transit, and waterways that facilitate commerce 
and improve our quality of life. The flow of people and goods is 
enormous: the nation moved about 5 trillion ton miles of freight and 5 
trillion passenger miles of people in 2004.[Footnote 6] Spending for 
commercial, personal, and government transportation represents about 11 
percent of the gross domestic product. Yet there is a price for this 
system: 

* Increasing congestion on the ground and in the air delays the arrival 
of people and freight at their destinations and imposes economic 
losses. According to Department of Transportation estimates, congestion 
costs Americans roughly $200 billion each year. 

* The system is expensive to maintain and improve. Total federal, state 
and local transportation expenditures are close to $200 billion 
annually. 

* There is a human cost: over 44,000 people are killed in 
transportation-related accidents and over 2.5 million are injured each 
year. 

The transportation system is under considerable strain from these 
factors, and this strain is expected to increase as the demand to move 
people and goods grows resulting from population growth, technological 
change, and the increased globalization of the economy. For example, 
according to the Transportation Research Board, an expected population 
growth of 100 million people could double the demand for passenger 
travel by 2040. Moreover, this population growth will be concentrated 
in certain regions and states, further intensifying the demand for 
transportation in these areas.[Footnote 7] 

The Department of Transportation implements national transportation 
policy and administers most federal transportation programs. Its 
responsibilities are considerable and reflect the extraordinary scale, 
use, and impact of the nation's transportation system. The department 
has multiple missions--primarily focusing on mobility and safety--that 
are carried out by several operating administrations. (See table 1.) 

Table 1: Primary Missions of the Department of Transportation: 

Mission: Enhancing the quality and performance of the nation's highway 
system and intermodal connectors; 
Responsible entity within the department: Federal Highway 
Administration. 

Mission: Promoting the safety and efficiency of the national airspace 
system; 
Responsible entity within the department: Federal Aviation 
Administration. 

Mission: Supporting locally planned and operated public mass transit 
systems; 
Responsible entity within the department: Federal Transit 
Administration. 

Mission: Reducing motor vehicle crashes and their associated deaths and 
injuries; 
Responsible entity within the department: National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration. 

Mission: Reducing commercial motor vehicle-related (large trucks and 
buses) fatalities and injuries; 
Responsible entity within the department: Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Administration. 

Mission: Improving safety on the nation's rail systems and providing 
grants for intercity passenger rail activities; 
Responsible entity within the department: Federal Railroad 
Administration. 

Mission: Maintaining the safety and integrity of the nation's pipeline 
transportation system and the safety of transporting hazardous 
materials; 
Responsible entity within the department: Pipeline and Hazardous 
Materials Safety Administration. 

Mission: Strengthening the nation's maritime transportation system, 
including infrastructure, industry, and labor; 
Responsible entity within the department: Maritime Administration. 

Source: GAO presentation of Department of Transportation information. 

[End of table] 

For fiscal year 2008, the President's budget requested $67 billion to 
carry out these and other activities. This budget request would support 
about 55,000 full-time-equivalent employees. 

The department carries out some activities directly, such as employing 
more than 15,000 air traffic controllers to coordinate air traffic to 
make certain that planes stay a safe distance apart. However, the vast 
majority of its activities are not under its direct control. For 
example, in recent years the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has 
provided state governments nearly $34 billion each year to build and 
improve roads and bridges and meet other transportation needs. However, 
for the most part state and local governments decide which 
transportation projects have high priority within their political 
jurisdictions. Similarly, while the National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration (NHTSA) encourages the use of safety belts by the 
motoring public as a means of saving lives and reducing injuries, 
states determine whether and how to punish noncompliance. In other 
cases--notably most freight railways and pipelines--the infrastructure 
is owned and operated by private companies and the Department of 
Transportation regulates the safety of their transportation operations. 

Transportation Challenges Facing Congress and the Department of 
Transportation: 

In our view, Congress and the Department of Transportation face four 
major transportation challenges--financing the nation's transportation 
system, improving mobility, improving safety, and managing the 
transformation of the air traffic control system. Another three issues 
are of continuing concern: building human capital strategies, fostering 
improved departmental financial management, and improving 
transportation security and emergency preparedness and response. 

Financing the Nation's Transportation System: 

The efficiency of the nation's transportation infrastructure is 
threatened by increasing demand for transportation services, and 
revenue from traditional funding mechanisms may be unable to keep pace 
at current tax rates. In addition, the nation's long-term fiscal 
challenges[Footnote 8] will constrain decision makers' ability to use 
other revenue sources for transportation needs. As a result of these 
concerns, we designated financing the nation's transportation 
infrastructure as a high-risk issue this year. 

Revenues to support the Highway Trust Fund--the major source of federal 
highway and transit funding--at the current fuel tax rate are eroding. 
While receipts for the Highway Trust Fund, which are derived from motor 
fuel and truck-related taxes, are growing, the federal motor fuel tax 
rate of 18.3 cents per gallon has not been increased since 1993 and 
inflation has eroded purchasing power. In addition, increased fuel 
efficiency and the advent of alternative-fuel vehicles will further 
erode trust fund receipts. While increases in vehicle travel will 
increase fuel tax revenues, funding already authorized in recently 
enacted highway and transit program legislation is expected to outstrip 
the growth in trust fund receipts. According to recent estimates from 
the Congressional Budget Office and the President's budget, the trust 
fund balance will steadily decline and reach a negative balance of more 
than $14 billion by the end of fiscal year 2012. (See fig. 2.) To help 
remedy this situation, a commission--chaired by the Secretary of 
Transportation--will report later this year on recommendations to place 
the trust fund on a sustainable path. In addition, the Department of 
Transportation's strategic plan suggests exploring tolling projects and 
private sector involvement to address funding constraints--ideas that 
some state and local governments are currently exploring. 

Figure 2: Highway Trust Fund Year-End Balance Forecasts: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: Congressional Budget Office and President's Budget. 

[End of figure] 

Federal aviation programs are also facing growing infrastructure 
demands with constrained resources, and a disruption in the flow of 
funds may jeopardize FAA's ability to carry out its improvement 
programs. Demand for air travel has increased in recent years, with 
over 740 million passengers flying in fiscal year 2006. Failing to meet 
infrastructure challenges in aviation may have significant 
consequences, since aviation is an integral part of the economy. To 
meet anticipated increases in commercial aviation travel, FAA and 
aviation stakeholders are developing new systems to modernize and 
increase capacity, but it is uncertain whether the current funding 
system can generate sufficient revenues to meet these budgetary 
needs.[Footnote 9] FAA and some stakeholders have concerns that the 
costs of providing and modernizing air traffic control services might 
increase without a corresponding increase in revenues collected from 
users. Under one preliminary estimate of modernization costs, FAA's 
budget requirements would, on average, exceed fiscal year 2006 
appropriation levels by approximately $1 billion a year (in today's 
dollars) through 2025. To better connect FAA's revenues with the cost 
of air traffic control services that it provides, the President's 
budget for fiscal year 2008 has proposed replacing, in fiscal year 
2009, FAA's current excise tax financing system, built largely around 
purchases of tickets and aviation fuel, with a cost-based user fee 
system. This new system would aim to recover the costs of providing air 
traffic control services through user fees for commercial operators and 
aviation fuel taxes for general aviation. However, some stakeholders 
believe that the current structure has been effective in funding FAA 
and can be successful in the future, although some modifications may be 
necessary. In addition, the President's budget has proposed cutting and 
reallocating federal funds for developing projects at the nation's 
3,400 airports. FAA estimates the total cost for planned airport 
projects eligible for funding at approximately $42 billion (in nominal 
dollars) for fiscal years 2007 through 2011. FAA is also proposing that 
Congress allow airports to collect more revenue from other sources to 
help offset any reductions. Adding to uncertainty, the current excise 
taxes that largely fund FAA revenue are scheduled to expire at the end 
of September 2007, unless there is congressional action to renew them 
or provide an alternative source of funding to avoid a lapse of revenue 
in fiscal year 2008. 

Freight traffic is projected to grow substantially, putting strain on 
ports, highways, railroads, and airports, but current public planning 
and financing impede strategies to address capacity investment, and 
industry's ability to fund its capacity increases to meet growth is 
largely uncertain.[Footnote 10] Freight mobility--the ability to move 
goods--is a driver of economic growth, and increasing congestion and 
unreliability of transportation systems can have severe economic 
consequences. In the future, Congress is likely to receive funding 
requests for additional freight projects and face decisions about the 
federal role in the nation's freight infrastructure. 

Improving Mobility through Intermodal and Modal Approaches: 

While the federal government has made huge investments in our nation's 
transportation infrastructure in the last 50 years, the expansion of 
this infrastructure has not kept pace with needs and the system is 
currently under great strain. Congestion across modes--estimated to 
cost $200 billion per year--is significant and is projected to worsen. 
For example, travel on roads is expected to increase by about 25 
percent from 2000 to 2010, freight traffic is expected to increase by 
92 percent from 2002 to 2035, and demand for air travel is expected to 
climb by about 35 percent from 2006 to 2015. To help address congestion 
concerns, the federal government spends billions of dollars each year 
to build, maintain, operate, and improve the nation's aging 
transportation system. As congestion increases, federal policymakers 
face the challenge of ensuring that funds are used efficiently in order 
to prevent congestion from overwhelming the system. However, currently 
there is little assurance that the projects selected and funded best 
meet national goals for meeting the nation's mobility needs. 

The department and Congress have recently taken a number of new actions 
to address this major threat to our nation's economic growth and 
quality of life. In May 2006, the department announced a national 
strategy that will provide $175 million to local governments to 
demonstrate and test innovative ideas for curbing congestion. Certain 
large-scale pilot projects would be chosen based on their sponsors' 
willingness to implement a comprehensive congestion reduction strategy, 
including congestion pricing,[Footnote 11] commuter transit services, 
and commitments from businesses to expand flexible work schedules. The 
strategy also includes initiatives to encourage private sector 
investment in transportation infrastructure, promote the use of 
operational and technological improvements, address major freight 
bottlenecks, and accelerate major aviation capacity projects, among 
other things. The department is also implementing a number of new 
initiatives to mitigate congestion that were called for in the Safe, 
Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy 
for Users (SAFETEA-LU), including programs to allow states to monitor, 
in real-time, traffic conditions on major highways and new funding for 
projects that have national or regional benefits. In addition, SAFETEA- 
LU established a commission that will report on ways to raise revenue 
for highway and transit projects and also reduce the costs of 
congestion. Finally, in the aviation arena, FAA is the primary 
implementer of a multiagency effort to transform the air traffic 
control system in order to safely handle projected growth in the demand 
for air travel. I will further discuss this effort later in my 
statement. 

While these steps are encouraging, successfully addressing the nation's 
mobility challenges requires strategic and intermodal approaches and 
solutions.[Footnote 12] The nation faces a growing fiscal crisis that 
challenges it to fundamentally reexamine existing government programs 
and commitments and to make tough choices in setting priorities and 
linking resources to results. In particular, the Highway Trust Fund-- 
the largest source of federal funding for transportation--was created 
in 1956 for the purpose of constructing the interstate highway system 
and, although that system is now complete, the basic construct of the 
program, in terms of financing and delivery mechanisms, has not 
changed. In addition, this and other federal transportation programs do 
not have mechanisms to link funding levels with the accomplishment of 
specific performance-related goals and outcomes related to mobility. 
Most highway grant programs are apportioned by formula, without regard 
to the needs or capacity of recipients. In addition, the preponderance 
of evidence suggests that federal-aid highway grants have influenced 
state and local governments to substitute federal funds for state and 
local funds that otherwise would have been spent on highways. State and 
local governments have broad flexibility to select most projects that 
receive federal funding. As such, there is little assurance that the 
projects selected and funded best meet national goals for addressing 
the nation's mobility needs.[Footnote 13] Intercity passenger rail 
service is also at a critical juncture, with the existing system in 
poor condition and federal subsidies--over $1 billion annually in 
recent years--not targeted to the greatest public benefits, including 
congestion relief.[Footnote 14] 

Furthermore, transportation programs and funding mechanisms are largely 
stovepiped by modes of transportation. For example, while passenger and 
freight travel occurs on all modes, federal funding and planning 
requirements focus largely on highway, transit, and aviation passenger 
travel. This framework makes it difficult for intermodal projects and 
other modal projects (e.g., freight or passenger rail) to be integrated 
into the transportation system. We have found, for example, that the 
limited visibility that freight projects receive in the process for 
planning and prioritizing transportation projects as well as the lack 
of a comprehensive evaluation approach, such as a cost-benefit 
framework, impedes the implementation of improvements to better ensure 
that systemwide, multimodal solutions are considered and adopted where 
appropriate. It is unlikely that mobility can be enhanced unless major 
modes--air, highway, rail, transit, and water--are well connected. 
However, intermodal connections, such as multimodal passenger terminals 
and roads that link freight terminals and major highways, are among the 
transportation system's weakest links.[Footnote 15] 

The critical issues facing Congress and the department to effectively 
address congestion problems and enhance the nation's mobility include: 

* How narrowly or broadly should the federal role be defined? 

* Should federal programs be more closely aligned with specific 
national interests and purposes, such as interstate freight mobility? 

* Should formulas be revised to better consider need, performance, 
capacity, and effort by states and localities? 

* Can intermodal solutions be effectively carried out within the 
existing federal modal program framework, or is another model needed? 

Finally, a high priority should be maximizing the benefits of federal 
investments in transportation infrastructure and ensuring 
accountability for results. Each year, FHWA distributes billions of 
dollars--$34.2 billion in fiscal year 2006--to state governments for 
projects aimed at improving the nation's highway systems.[Footnote 16] 
However, we have found that often formal analyses are not used in 
deciding among alternative projects, projects often do not meet 
anticipated outcomes, and evaluations of outcomes are not typically 
conducted.[Footnote 17] Furthermore, we have reported on the need for 
improving accountability for results in FHWA's oversight of projects, 
through goals and performance measures, for example.[Footnote 18] The 
agency has made progress in this area, partly in response to mandated 
improvements in SAFETEA-LU, but a continued focus on efforts to improve 
accountability will be important. Finally, FAA provides funds to 
airport operators to provide increased capacity at the nation's 
airports and has estimated that the total cost for planned projects 
eligible for federal grants for fiscal years 2007 through 2011 will be 
$42 billion. While changes the Administration is proposing may reduce 
the amount FAA provides, it will be essential to ensure that public 
benefits from these investments are maximized. 

Improving Transportation Safety: 

Each year, tens of thousands of people are killed and millions are 
injured in transportation accidents in the United States. In 2005 
alone, over 44,000 people were killed and over 2.5 million were injured 
in highway, aviation, railroad, transit, and pipeline 
accidents.[Footnote 19] (See fig. 3.) Motor vehicle crashes, in 
particular, exact an enormous personal and economic toll on this 
country and are the leading cause of death for people aged 3 through 
33. While transportation safety has improved considerably over the past 
4 decades, in recent years, fatalities have plateaued.[Footnote 20] 
Since the highest pay-off actions--such as improvements in vehicle 
crashworthiness and increases in seat belt use--have occurred, future 
progress will be more difficult. Of particular concern is the limited 
progress in improving safety on our nation's roads, where about 95 
percent of all transportation fatalities occur. Furthermore, motorcycle 
fatalities have steadily increased over the past decade (to over 4,500 
in 2005). While nonhighway modes of travel are much safer, safety in 
these modes--such as aviation and rail--is also a major concern because 
when accidents occur, they can have catastrophic consequences. 
Projected increases in congestion across modes, as a result of 
population and economic growth, could cause a deterioration in 
transportation safety in the future despite vigorous efforts to reduce 
accidents. 

Figure 3: Fatalities by Transportation Mode, 2005: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics. 

Note: Aviation figures are preliminary. Of the 602 aviation fatalities, 
562 occurred in general aviation, which covers all civil aircraft not 
flown by commercial airlines or the military. 

[End of figure] 

To address these problems, the department has designated improving 
safety as its highest priority. Its efforts to improve surface 
transportation safety are wide-ranging and include programs to change 
driver behaviors--such as alcohol use and speeding--that cause 
accidents; enhance motor vehicle safety; improve the safety of highway 
and intersection infrastructure; and improve safety performance in the 
motor carrier, railroad, transit, and pipeline industries. SAFETEA-LU 
established an incentive grant program--which has been quite 
successful--to encourage states to pass primary seat belt 
laws.[Footnote 21] SAFETEA-LU also mandated a number of other promising 
new initiatives, including a grant program for highway safety that 
provides states with flexibility to target funds to their most critical 
safety needs. Under this program, states are required to prepare 
strategic highway safety plans, based on an analysis of safety data, 
and to assess results. FAA focuses on improving safety in commercial 
aviation, in which accidents are rare but have the potential for a 
large loss of life, as well as in general aviation. The agency's safety 
activities include air traffic control as well as certification and 
inspection of various participants in the aviation industry, such as 
commercial airlines, flight schools, and aircraft manufacturers. 

While the department's many efforts to improve transportation safety 
are to be commended, certain areas require increased attention. In 
particular, improvements in data, performance measures, and evaluations 
are needed to determine whether programs are achieving intended 
results. For example, in reviewing certain programs of the Federal 
Motor Carrier Safety Administration aimed at improving driver behavior, 
we found that, in some cases, funds were being directed to initiatives 
that lacked information on whether they worked and that evaluations of 
program impacts were not planned for a number of years.[Footnote 22] In 
reviewing a NHTSA grant program to help states improve the quality of 
their traffic safety data, we found that the agency did not have an 
effective process in place for monitoring progress.[Footnote 23] We 
have also found that the effectiveness of the department's efforts to 
oversee and improve the safety performance of airlines, truck 
companies, pipeline companies, and railroads is unclear because of 
limitations in data, performance measures, and evaluation.[Footnote 24] 
For example, agencies need to develop better measures of the direct 
results of their efforts--such as safety improvements made as a result 
of enforcement of safety standards--that contribute toward reductions 
in accidents. Performance measures and evaluations, supported by 
appropriate data, provide managers with information on program results 
that helps them make decisions that can improve performance, including 
decisions to refine programs and adjust policies and priorities. This 
information can also hold agencies accountable for the performance of 
their programs and support congressional oversight. While agencies have 
been making progress in this area in response to our recommendations as 
well as some mandated improvements in SAFETEA-LU, it is important that 
the department continue to improve information on the performance of 
its safety programs to have greater assurance that they are producing 
desired effects. 

Furthermore, the department's ability to maintain the high level of 
safety in the aviation industry will depend to a large extent on FAA's 
ability to hire, train, and deploy its primary workforce, including 
safety inspectors and air traffic controllers. FAA must overcome 
several key challenges in this area. Planned changes in the agency's 
oversight approach for air carriers will result in workload shifts for 
its inspectors that will make it important for FAA to improve its 
staffing process. In addition, the agency plans to hire almost 12,000 
new air traffic controllers by 2015 to replace retiring controllers and 
accommodate increases in air traffic and will need to train these new 
controllers and incorporate them into its workforce.[Footnote 25] 

Managing the Transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation 
System: 

The current approach to managing air transportation is becoming 
increasingly inefficient and operationally obsolete. In 2003, Congress 
authorized the creation of the JPDO, housed within FAA, to plan for and 
coordinate the transition to NextGen, a complex and ambitious 
multiagency undertaking that is intended to upgrade the system by 2025 
to safely accommodate increased air traffic. As the primary implementer 
of the transition to NextGen, FAA faces challenges in moving from 
planning to implementation, including institutionalizing management 
reforms it has made in recent years, obtaining financial and technical 
resources and expertise, and collaborating with JPDO on planning 
efforts.[Footnote 26] If FAA does not meet these challenges, the 
realization of NextGen goals could be severely compromised. Without a 
timely transition to NextGen capabilities, JPDO officials estimate a 
future gap between the demand for air transportation and available 
capacity that could cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars annually. 

FAA has had systemic management and acquisition problems that have led 
us to designate its air traffic control modernization program as high- 
risk since 1995. However, FAA has made significant progress in recent 
years. For example, FAA established the Air Traffic Organization to 
operate and modernize the air traffic control system. This organization 
is headed by a Chief Operating Officer who has focused on implementing 
more businesslike management and acquisition processes to address cost, 
schedule, and performance shortfalls that plagued air traffic control 
modernization in the past. FAA has reduced organizational stovepipes, 
increased accountability for costs, and begun investment reviews of 
major acquisitions. FAA has reported meeting its acquisition cost and 
schedule goals for the last 3 years. 

JPDO has completed some initial planning necessary for implementing 
NextGen. For example, JPDO has been developing an enterprise 
architecture, or technical blueprint, that it expects will provide more 
clarity regarding its expectations for NextGen, thereby facilitating 
(1) coordination among JPDO's partner agencies[Footnote 27] and private 
sector manufacturers, (2) alignment across agencies of research and 
development activities with the blueprint, and (3) integration of 
modernized systems in a way that minimizes overlap and duplication and 
maximizes integration. As we reported in November 2006, a limited, 
preliminary cost estimate concluded that FAA's budget under a NextGen 
scenario would average about $15 billion per year through 2025, or 
about $1 billion more annually (in today's dollars), on average, than 
FAA's fiscal year 2006 appropriation.[Footnote 28] 

Despite its progress, as the key implementer of NextGen, FAA needs to 
institutionalize improvements made and continuously improve. For 
example, we recommended that, before making decisions to fund systems 
already in service, FAA re-evaluate projects' alignment with strategic 
goals and objectives, but FAA's acquisition management guidance does 
not clearly indicate if this is yet the case. The agency developed a 
cost estimating methodology, but has yet to implement it, as well as a 
framework for improving system management capabilities, but has yet to 
institutionalize it. Additionally, we recently recommended that FAA 
examine its strengths and weaknesses with regard to the technical 
expertise and contract management expertise necessary to transition to 
NextGen.[Footnote 29] 

In response, FAA is considering convening a blue ribbon panel to make 
recommendations, which we believe could help the agency begin to 
address this concern. 

JPDO faces challenges in coordinating agencies and continuing planning 
necessary for implementation of NextGen. For example, work remains to 
synchronize NextGen's enterprise architecture with the partner 
agencies' planning documents and to keep the necessary research and 
development on track. In addition, JPDO has yet to provide Congress 
with a valid, comprehensive estimate of the costs to JPDO partner 
agencies for the required research, development, systems acquisitions, 
and systems integration.[Footnote 30] Finally, continuing collaboration 
between JPDO and the Office of Management and Budget is needed to allow 
the budget agency to make funding decisions based on a unified NextGen 
program. The Congressional Research Service has pointed out that 
Congress may examine options to align the budgets of the agencies 
involved, given that JPDO does not have authority over funding, 
personnel, and resources.[Footnote 31] 

Building Human Capital Strategies: 

The department and the transportation sector as a whole face persistent 
human capital challenges that put their mission performance at risk. 
Building human capital strategies that will allow the department and 
the transportation sector to attract, hire, and retain an effective 
workforce is an overarching issue that directly affects their ability 
to respond to the challenges I have outlined today.[Footnote 32] In 
particular, both are confronted with an impending shortage of skilled 
people that threatens to have serious short-and long-term consequences. 
For example, FAA alone expects to lose about 10,000, or 70 percent, of 
its air traffic controllers over the next 10 years, mostly due to 
retirement. For the department and the transportation sector as a 
whole, the growing demand for transportation services will collide with 
the reality of fewer people entering transportation-related fields. 
Further complicating this shortage, changes in intergovernmental 
responsibilities for delivering transportation services, new travel 
patterns, advances in technology, and changed public expectations are 
redefining the competencies and skills that are needed. Increasingly, 
transportation will require more diverse, sophisticated management and 
technical competencies than ever before. 

The department has acknowledged that accomplishing its mission depends 
on a strategic approach to human capital, and it is taking steps to 
adopt such an approach. For example, in 2005, the agency piloted a 
program to expand entry-level hiring in mission-critical occupations. 
Also, in 2006, the agency increased its investments in human capital by 
48 percent. Furthermore, the agency is working to align its human 
capital initiatives to meet the President's Management Agenda. In the 
department's current performance and accountability report, the Office 
of Management and Budget awarded the department top marks for current 
and prospective progress on its human capital initiative. However, the 
department has not convinced its workforce about these results. In the 
results of the 2006 federal employee human capital survey, the 
employees scored the department lower in each of the four broad areas 
than they did in 2004, when the survey was last conducted. Among the 36 
federal agencies surveyed, the department finished in the bottom 10 for 
talent management and job satisfaction and in the bottom 3 for 
fostering a results-oriented performance culture and for leadership and 
knowledge management. The department will need to take further actions 
to address these issues, to improve its ability to respond to the 
challenges it faces. 

Across the transportation sector, transportation agencies are also 
taking steps to improve human capital practices, by identifying 
organizational and staff competency needs, as well as other gaps. They 
are also beginning to investigate nontraditional sources for qualified 
employees, such as highly qualified retirees from other organizations, 
as well as ways to develop individual competencies by training the 
existing workforce. While these efforts are promising, these agencies 
vary widely, and although each has its own unique capabilities and 
resources to address workforce needs, all have limited resources. 
Furthermore, few have addressed their future workforce needs 
comprehensively, which further complicates efforts to predict how many 
people in specific job categories for each type of agency will be 
needed in 5 or 10 years.[Footnote 33] 

Fostering Improved Departmental Financial Management: 

In 2003, we cited financial management as a major challenge facing the 
Department of Transportation, specifically, identifying weaknesses in 
the accuracy and reliability of FAA's financial information.[Footnote 
34] In recent years, the department has made significant progress in 
managing its finances, including substantial improvements in FAA's 
financial management systems and practices. Improvements have included 
installing a departmentwide financial system, including a new general 
ledger system and integrated property systems at FAA, as well as 
receiving unqualified opinions on its financial statements from 
auditors for several fiscal years in a row. As a result of this 
progress, in 2005, we removed FAA's financial management from our high- 
risk list. 

While progress has been made, work remains to ensure that the 
Department of Transportation soundly manages its finances and accounts 
for its use of federal and other funds. For fiscal year 2006, the 
department received a qualified opinion on its financial statements and 
the auditors cited two material internal control weaknesses.[Footnote 
35] This qualified opinion resulted from a material weakness at FAA 
relating to management's inability to support the accuracy and 
completeness of a $4.7 billion account used for equipment and facility 
projects. The department's Office of the Inspector General has reported 
that correcting this deficiency will be critical for FAA to meet its 
stated goal of sound financial management.[Footnote 36] The other 
material weakness involves the financial management, reporting, and 
oversight of the Highway Trust Fund agencies.[Footnote 37] During 
fiscal year 2006, trust fund agencies implemented significant 
improvements over several previously reported deficiencies. However, 
weaknesses remained in several areas, including a lack of policies and 
procedures to ensure more timely correction of any abnormal account 
balances and concerns with the preparation and analysis of financial 
statements. The Inspector General has listed several additional steps 
to further improve oversight of the trust fund, including better 
detection of improper payments and development of realistic project 
cost estimates.[Footnote 38] 

Improving Transportation Security and Emergency Preparedness and 
Response: 

The size and interconnectedness of the nation's transportation systems 
make it highly difficult to secure against attack. In 2003, we cited 
transforming transportation security as a major challenge facing the 
Department of Transportation.[Footnote 39] In recent years, Congress 
has shifted many of the department's security responsibilities to the 
Department of Homeland Security, which now has primary responsibility 
for securing the nation's transportation infrastructure, including 
aviation, railroad, pipeline, and other systems. The Department of 
Transportation has retained some involvement in securing transportation 
infrastructure, in part, due to overlap with its safety efforts 
involving freight, including the transportation of hazardous materials, 
and passenger rail. In light of these changes, the department faces the 
challenge of working with the Department of Homeland Security to 
clarify its remaining role in securing the nation's transportation 
infrastructure. The sheer number of stakeholders involved in securing 
transportation modes can sometimes lead to communication challenges, 
duplication of effort, and confusion about roles and responsibilities. 
For example, the department's safety standards have at times conflicted 
with the Department of Homeland Security's security standards. Both 
departments have begun efforts to strengthen coordination and 
cooperation to promote the security of the transportation system. The 
departments have signed a memorandum of understanding to define broad 
areas of responsibility for each department and to delineate specific 
security related roles, responsibilities, resources, and commitments 
for mass transit, rail, and other matters.[Footnote 40] However, the 
departments' coordination efforts in this area are ongoing. 

The department also coordinates with the Department of Homeland 
Security in developing protective measures affecting transportation and 
has statutory roles related to emergency preparedness, response, and 
recovery. This encompasses programs like FHWA's Emergency Relief 
program, which provides funding to states to repair or reconstruct 
highways and roads damaged or destroyed in disasters.[Footnote 41] 
During times of disaster, the department plays a significant role as 
the lead and supporting agency for coordinating transportation support. 
In this role, it is primarily responsible for coordinating the 
provision of federal and civil transportation services, as well as the 
recovery and restoration of transportation infrastructure, among other 
things. In the future, the department will be tasked to further clarify 
its roles and responsibilities with the Department of Homeland Security 
in planning for and providing evacuation assistance. Catastrophic 
disasters like Hurricane Katrina demonstrate the importance of 
transportation preparedness and response to ensure the safe evacuation 
of citizens in emergencies when state and local governments are 
overwhelmed.[Footnote 42] Yet the department's responsibilities in 
providing evacuation assistance have not been entirely clear. In 
addition, despite recent progress by the federal government in 
providing evacuation assistance, gaps remain. For example, the 
Department of Homeland Security has not yet clarified, in the federal 
government's plan for disaster response, the leading, coordinating, and 
supporting federal agencies to provide evacuation assistance when state 
and local governments are overwhelmed, and what their responsibilities 
are. One White House report recommended that the Department of 
Transportation be designated as the agency responsible for developing 
the federal government's capability to carry out mass evacuations when 
state and local governments are overwhelmed.[Footnote 43] 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. I would be pleased 
to respond to any questions that you or other Members of the 
Subcommittee might have. 

GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgement: 

For further information on this statement, please contact Patricia 
Dalton at (202) 512-2834 or Daltonp@gao.gov. Individuals making key 
contributions to this testimony were Matthew Cail, Judy Guilliams- 
Tapia, Marietta Mayfield, Margaret Vo, and James Ratzenberger. 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Ongoing GAO Work Related to Transportation Challenges: 

Transportation financing. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Airport capital development funding (early 2007); 
GAO contact: Gerald Dillingham (202) 512-2834 DillinghamG@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Federal role in overseeing and funding railroad bridge and tunnel 
projects (mid 2007); 
* GAO forum on transforming transportation policy (mid 2007); 
GAO contact: JayEtta Hecker (202) 512-2834 HeckerJ@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): 
* The Federal Transit Administration's New Starts program (mid 2007); 
GAO contact: Katherine Siggerud (202) 512-2834 SiggerudK@gao.gov. 

Mobility. 

Description (expected completion): 
* The Federal Transit Administration's implementation and oversight of 
the New Freedom program (TBD[A] ); 
GAO contact: Kay Brown (202) 512-2834 BrownKE@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Operational, capacity, and safety issues associated with the Airbus 
A380 (early 2007); 
GAO contact: Gerald Dillingham (202) 512-2834 DillinghamG@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Introduction of very light jets into the national airspace system 
(mid 2007); 
GAO contact: Susan Fleming (202) 512-2834 FlemingS@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Approaches to the efficient use of existing transportation 
infrastructure (mid 2007); 
* Freight bottlenecks (late 2007); 
* Public-private partnerships in transportation (late 2007); 
* Restructuring the federal-aid highway program (TBD[A] ); 
* Trends and performance of state contracting with the private sector 
(TBD[A] ); 
GAO contact: JayEtta Hecker (202) 512- 2834 HeckerJ@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Port preparedness and mobility of goods during natural disasters 
(early 2007); 
* Barriers in addressing intermodal solutions to transportation 
mobility challenges (mid 2007); 
* Corporate Average Fuel Economy program policy options (mid 2007); 
* Surface transportation compliance with the Americans with 
Disabilities Act of 1990 (late 2007); 
GAO contact: Katherine Siggerud (202) 512-2834 SiggerudK@gao.gov. 

Safety. 

Description (expected completion): 
* The public safety impact of the Transportation Security 
Administration's modifications to the prohibited items list (early 
2007[B] ); 
GAO contact: Cathleen Berrick (202) 512-3404 BerrickC@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Implementation progress of the Uniform Carrier Registration program 
(TBD[A] ); 
GAO contact: Kay Brown (202) 512-2834 BrownKE@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Operational, capacity, and safety issues associated with the Airbus 
A380 (early 2007); 
* Airport runway safety and the role of the Federal Aviation 
Administration (late 2007); 
GAO contact: Gerald Dillingham (202) 512-2834 DillinghamG@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Identification of motor carriers that pose a high risk for crashes 
(mid 2007); 
* Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration identification and 
monitoring of unsafe motor carriers (mid 2007); 
GAO contact: Susan Fleming (202) 512-2834 FlemingS@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Safety standards for older drivers (early 2007); 
* Emerging trends in and challenges to preventing highway fatalities 
(late 2007); 
GAO contact: Katherine Siggerud (202) 512-2834 SiggerudK@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): Next generation air transportation 
system; GAO contact: [Empty]. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Survey of Joint Planning and Development Office stakeholders (mid 
2007); 
* The Federal Aviation Administration's air traffic control 
modernization program (mid 2007); 
GAO contact: Gerald Dillingham (202) 512-2834 DillinghamG@gao.gov. 

Human capital strategies. 

Description (expected completion): No ongoing work; 
GAO contact: [Empty]. 

Financial management. 

Description (expected completion): 
* The Federal Aviation Administration's financial management efforts 
(mid 2007); 
GAO contact: Gerald Dillingham (202) 512-2834 DillinghamG@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Highway transit funding authority (mid 2007); 
GAO contact: Katherine Siggerud (202) 512-2834 SiggerudK@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): Security and emergency preparedness 
and response; GAO contact: [Empty]. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Research and development of aviation passenger checkpoint screening 
technologies (mid 2007[B] ); 
* Planning and implementation efforts to ensure the security of 
commercial vehicles (TBD[A,B] ); 
GAO contact: Cathleen Berrick (202) 512-3404 BerrickC@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Vulnerabilities of tank vessels to terrorist attack (early 2007[B] ); 
GAO contact: Stephen Caldwell (202) 512-9610 CaldwellS@gao.gov. 

Description (expected completion): 
* Port preparedness and mobility of goods during natural disasters 
(early 2007); 
* The Federal Transit Authority's emergency assistance for transit 
agencies (TBD[A] ); 
GAO contact: Katherine Siggerud (202) 512-2834 SiggerudK@gao.gov. 

Source: GAO. 

[A] To be determined: 

[B] This report may not be publicly available at this time because it 
may contain security sensitive information. 

[End of table] 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

The following are the most pertinent GAO products to the topics 
discussed in this hearing statement since our 2003 report on management 
challenges facing the Department of Transportation. Other products can 
be found at GAO's Website at www.gao.gov. 

Financing the Nation's Transportation System: 

Intercity Passenger Rail: National Policy and Strategies Needed to 
Maximize Public Benefits from Federal Expenditures. GAO-07-15. 
Washington, D.C.: November 13, 2006. 

Freight Railroads: Industry Health Has Improved, but Concerns about 
Competition and Capacity Should Be Addressed. GAO-07-94. Washington, 
D.C.: October 6, 2006. 

Aviation Finance: Observations on Potential FAA Funding Options. GAO- 
06-973. Washington, D.C.: September 29, 2006. 

National Airspace System Modernization: Observations on Potential 
Funding Options for FAA and the Next Generation Airspace System. GAO- 
06-1114T. Washington, D.C.: September 27, 2006. 

Highway Finance: States' Expanding Use of Tolling Illustrates Diverse 
Challenges and Strategies. GAO-06-554. Washington, D.C.: June 28, 2006. 

Highway Trust Fund: Overview of Highway Trust Fund Estimates. GAO-06- 
572T. Washington, D.C.: April 4, 2006. 

Federal Aviation Administration: An Analysis of the Financial Viability 
of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. GAO-06-562T. Washington, D.C.: 
March 28, 2006. 

Freight Transportation: Short Sea Shipping Option Shows Importance of 
Systematic Approach to Public Investment Decisions. GAO-05-768. 
Washington, D.C.: July 29, 2005. 

Highlights of an Expert Panel: The Benefits and Costs of Highway and 
Transit Investments. GAO-05-423SP. Washington, D.C.: May 6, 2005. 

Airport and Airway Trust Fund: Preliminary Observations on Past, 
Present, and Future. GAO-05-657T. Washington, D.C.: May 4, 2005. 

Highway and Transit Investments: Options for Improving Information on 
Projects' Benefits and Costs and Increasing Accountability for Results. 
GAO-05-172. Washington, D.C.: January 24, 2005. 

Federal-Aid Highways: Trends, Effect on State Spending, and Options for 
Future Program Design. GAO-04-802. Washington, D.C.: August 31, 2004. 

Surface Transportation: Many Factors Affect Investment Decisions. GAO- 
04-744. Washington, D.C.: June 30, 2004. 

Improving Mobility through Intermodal and Modal Approaches: 

Transportation-Disadvantaged Populations: Actions Needed to Clarify 
Responsibilities and Increase Preparedness for Evacuations. GAO-07-44. 
Washington, D.C.: December 22, 2006. 

Federal Transit Administration: Progress Made in Implementing Changes 
to the Job Access Program, but Evaluation and Oversight Processes Need 
Improvement. GAO-07-43. Washington, D.C.: November 17, 2006. 

Intercity Passenger Rail: National Policy and Strategies Needed to 
Maximize Public Benefits from Federal Expenditures. GAO-07-15. November 
13, 2006. 

Freight Railroads: Industry Health has Improved, but Concerns about 
Competition and Capacity Should Be Addressed. GAO-07-94. Washington, 
D.C.: October 6, 2006. 

Commercial Aviation: Programs and Options for the Federal Approach to 
Providing and Improving Air Service to Small Communities. GAO-06-398T. 
Washington, D.C.: September 14, 2006. 

Public Transportation: New Starts Program Is in a Period of Transition. 
GAO-06-819. Washington, D.C.: August 30, 2006. 

Public Transportation: Preliminary Information on FTA's Implementation 
of SAFETEA-LU Changes. GAO-06-910T. Washington, D.C.: June 27, 2006. 

Intermodal Transportation: Challenges to and Potential Strategies for 
Developing Improved Intermodal Capabilities. GAO-06-855T. Washington, 
D.C.: June 15, 2006. 

Commuter Rail: Commuter Rail Issues Should Be Considered in Debate over 
Amtrak. GAO-06-470. Washington, D.C.: April 21, 2006. 

Transportation Services: Better Dissemination and Oversight of DOT's 
Guidance Could Lead to Improved Access for Limited English-Proficient 
Populations. GAO-06-52. Washington, D.C.: November 2, 2005. 

Intermodal Transportation: Potential Strategies Would Redefine Federal 
Role in Developing Airport Intermodal Capabilities. GAO-05-727. 
Washington, D.C.: July 26, 2005. 

Federal-Aid Highways: FHWA Needs a Comprehensive Approach to Improving 
Project Oversight. GAO-05-173. Washington, D.C.: January 31, 2005. 

Highway and Transit Investments: Options for Improving Information on 
Projects' Benefits and Costs and Increasing Accountability for Results. 
GAO-05-172. Washington, D.C.: January 24, 2005. 

Federal-Aid Highways: Trends, Effect on State Spending, and Options for 
Future Program Design. GAO-04-802. Washington, D.C.: August 31, 2004. 

Improving Transportation Safety: 

Underinflated Tires in the United States. GAO-07-246R. Washington, 
D.C.: February 9, 2007. 

Rail Safety: The Federal Railroad Administration Is Taking Steps to 
Better Target Its Oversight, but Assessment of Results is Needed to 
Determine Impact. GAO-07-149. Washington, D.C.: January 26, 2007. 

Aviation Safety: FAA's Safety Efforts Generally Strong but Face 
Challenges. GAO-06-1091T. Washington, D.C.: September 20, 2006. 

Natural Gas Pipeline Safety: Integrity Management Benefits Public 
Safety, but Consistency of Performance Measures Should Be Improved. GAO-
06-946. Washington, D.C.: September 8, 2006. 

Natural Gas Pipeline Safety: Risk-Based Standards Should Allow 
Operators to Better Tailor Reassessments to Pipeline Threats. GAO-06- 
945. Washington, D.C.: September 8, 2006. 

Truck Safety: Share the Road Safely Pilot Initiative Showed Promise, 
but the Program's Future Success Is Uncertain. GAO-06-916. Washington, 
D.C.: September 8, 2006. 

Rail Transit: Additional Federal Leadership Would Enhance FTA's State 
Safety Oversight Program. GAO-06-821. Washington, D.C.: July 26, 2006. 

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Education and Outreach 
Programs Target Safety and Consumer Issues, but Gaps in Planning and 
Evaluation Remain. GAO-06-103. Washington, D.C.: December 19, 2005. 

Large Truck Safety: Federal Enforcement Efforts Have Been Stronger 
Since 2000, but Oversight of State Grants Needs Improvement. GAO-06- 
156. Washington, D.C.: December 15, 2005. 

Highway Safety: Further Opportunities Exist to Improve Data on Crashes 
Involving Commercial Motor Vehicles. GAO-06-102. Washington, D.C.: 
November 18, 2005. 

Aviation Safety: FAA's Safety Oversight System Is Effective but Could 
Benefit from Better Evaluation of Its Programs' Performance. GAO-06- 
266T. Washington, D.C.: November 17, 2005. 

Aviation Safety: System Safety Approach Needs Further Integration into 
FAA's Oversight of Airlines. GAO-05-726. Washington, D.C.: September 
28, 2005. 

Vehicle Safety: Opportunities Exist to Enhance NHTSA's New Car 
Assessment Program. GAO-05-370. Washington, D.C.: April 29, 2005. 

Highway Safety: Improved Monitoring and Oversight of Traffic Safety 
Data Program are Needed. GAO-05-24. Washington, D.C.: November 4, 2004. 

Managing the Transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation 
System: 

Federal Aviation Administration: Challenges Facing the Agency in Fiscal 
Year 2008 and Beyond. GAO-07-490T. Washington, D.C.: February 14, 2007. 

Next Generation Air Transportation System: Progress and Challenges 
Associated with the Transformation of the National Airspace System. GAO-
07-25. Washington, D.C.: November 13, 2006. 

Next Generation Air Transportation System: Preliminary Analysis of 
Progress and Challenges Associated with the Transformation of the 
National Airspace System. GAO-06-915T. Washington, D.C.: July 25, 2006. 

Air Traffic Control Modernization: Status of the Current Program and 
Planning for the Next Generation Air Transportation System. GAO-06- 
653T. Washington, D.C.: June 21, 2006. 

Next Generation Air Transportation System: Preliminary Analysis of the 
Joint Planning and Development Office's Planning, Progress, and 
Challenges. GAO-06-574T. Washington, D.C.: March 29, 2006. 

National Airspace System: Transformation will Require Cultural Change, 
Balanced Funding Priorities, and Use of All Available Management Tools. 
GAO-06-154. Washington, D.C.: October 14, 2005. 

National Airspace System: FAA Has Made Progress but Continues to Face 
Challenges in Acquiring Major Air Traffic Control Systems. GAO-05-331. 
Washington, D.C.: June 10, 2005. 

Federal Aviation Administration: Stronger Architecture Program Needed 
to Guide Systems Modernization Efforts. GAO-05-266. Washington, D.C.: 
April 29, 2005. 

Building Human Capital Strategies: 

Aviation Security: TSA's Staffing Allocation Model Is Useful for 
Allocating Staff among Airports, but Its Assumptions Should Be 
Systematically Reassessed. GAO-07-299. Washington, D.C.: February 28, 
2007. 

Aviation Safety: FAA Management Practices for Technical Training Mostly 
Effective; Further Actions Could Enhance Results. GAO-05-728. 
Washington, D.C.: September 7, 2005. 

Human Capital: Agencies Need Leadership and the Supporting 
Infrastructure to Take Advantage of New Flexibilities. GAO-05-616T. 
Washington, D.C.: April 21, 2005. 

Federal-Aid Highways: FHWA Needs a Comprehensive Approach to Improving 
Project Oversight. GAO-05-173. Washington, D.C.: January 31, 2005. 

Fostering Improved Financial Management: 

FAA Budget Policies and Practices. GAO-04-841R. Washington, D.C.: July 
2, 2004. 

Federal Aircraft: Inaccurate Cost Data and Weaknesses in Fleet 
Management Planning Hamper Cost Effective Operations. GAO-04-645. 
Washington, D.C.: June 18, 2004. 

Improving Transportation Security and Emergency Preparedness and 
Response: 

Highway Emergency Relief: Reexamination Needed to Address Fiscal 
Imbalance and Long-Term Sustainability. GAO-07-245. Washington, D.C.: 
February 23, 2007. 

Passenger Rail Security: Federal Strategy and Enhanced Coordination 
Needed to Prioritize and Guide Security Efforts. GAO-07-459T. 
Washington, D.C.: February 13, 2007. 

Aviation Security: Progress Made in Systematic Planning to Guide Key 
Investment Decisions, but More Work Remains. GAO-07-448T. Washington, 
D.C.: February 13, 2007. 

Transportation-Disadvantaged Populations: Actions Needed to Clarify 
Responsibilities and Increase Preparedness for Evacuations. GAO-07-44. 
Washington, D.C.: December 22, 2006. 

Passenger Rail Security: Evaluating Foreign Security Practices and Risk 
Can Help Guide Security Efforts. GAO-06-557T. Washington, D.C.: March 
29, 2006. 

Undeclared Hazardous Materials: New DOT Efforts May Provide Additional 
Information on Undeclared Shipments. GAO-06-471. Washington, D.C.: 
March 29, 2006. 

Passenger Rail Security: Enhanced Federal Leadership Needed to 
Prioritize and Guide Security Efforts. GAO-05-851. Washington, D.C.: 
September 9, 2005. 

General Aviation Security: Increased Federal Oversight is Needed, but 
Continued Partnership with the Private Sector Is Critical to Long-Term 
Success. GAO-05-144. Washington, D.C.: November 10, 2004. 

Transportation Security: Federal Action Needed to Help Address Security 
Challenges. GAO-03-843. Washington, D.C.: June 30, 2003. 

Transportation Security Research: Coordination Needed in Selecting and 
Implementing Infrastructure Vulnerability Assessments. GAO-03-502. 
Washington, D.C.: May 1, 2003. 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] GAO, Fiscal Stewardship: A Critical Challenge Facing Our Nation, 
GAO-07-362SP (Washington, D.C.: January 2007). 

[2] GAO, 21st Century Challenges: Reexamining the Base of the Federal 
Government, GAO-05-325SP (Washington, D.C.: February 2007). 

[3] GAO, Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of 
Transportation, GAO-03-108 (Washington, D.C.: January 2003). See http:/ 
/www.gao.gov/pas/2005/dot.htm for a 2005 update. 

[4] GAO, High-Risk Series: An Update, GAO-07-310 (Washington, D.C.: 
January 2007). 

[5] In 2003, Congress authorized the creation of the JPDO, housed 
within FAA, to plan for and coordinate the transition to the Next 
Generation Air Transportation System. It operates in conjunction with 
seven partner agencies. NextGen involves airport-curb-to-airport-curb 
modernization and encompasses security screening and environmental 
issues, as well as projects to augment the global positioning system to 
aid in approaches and landings and to provide new displays and data 
processing for air traffic controllers. 

[6] One ton-mile is the movement of one ton of freight for one mile. 
One passenger mile is the movement of one person for one mile. 
Statistics are for both interstate and intrastate travel. 

[7] Transportation Research Board, Critical Issues in Transportation 
(Washington, D.C.: 2006). 

[8] GAO-05-325SP. 

[9] GAO-07-310. 

[10] GAO, Freight Railroads: Industry Health Has Improved, but Concerns 
about Competition and Capacity Should be Addressed, GAO-07-94 
(Washington, D.C.: Oct. 6, 2006) and Freight Transportation: Strategies 
Needed to Address Planning and Financing Limitations, GAO-04-165 
(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 19, 2003). 

[11] Congestion pricing involves charging surcharges or tolls to 
drivers who choose to travel during peak periods when their use of the 
roads increases congestion. 

[12] GAO-05-325SP. 

[13] GAO, Highway and Transit Investments: Options for Improving 
Information on Projects' Benefits and Costs and Increasing 
Accountability for Results, GAO-05-172 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 24, 
2005); Federal-Aid Highways: Trends, Effect on State Spending, and 
Options for Future Program Design, GAO-04-802 (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 
31, 2004) and Surface and Maritime Transportation: Developing 
Strategies for Enhancing Mobility: A National Challenge, GAO-02-775 
(Washington, D.C.: Aug. 30, 2002). 

[14] GAO, Intercity Passenger Rail: National Policy and Strategies 
Needed to Maximize Public Benefits from Federal Expenditures, GAO-07-15 
(Washington, D.C.: Nov. 13, 2006). 

[15] See GAO-07-94; GAO-04-165; Intermodal Transportation: Challenges 
to and Potential Strategies for Developing Improved Intermodal 
Capabilities, GAO-06-855T (Washington, D.C.: June 15, 2006); and 
Intermodal Transportation: Potential Strategies Would Redefine Federal 
Role in Developing Airport Intermodal Capabilities, GAO-05-727 
(Washington, D.C.: July 26, 2005). 

[16] Once FHWA distributes funds to the states, funds are available to 
be obligated by the states for construction, reconstruction, and 
improvement of highways and bridges on eligible federal aid-highway 
routes and for other purposes authorized in law. 

[17] GAO-05-172. 

[18] See GAO, Federal-Aid Highways: FHWA Needs a Comprehensive Approach 
to Improving Project Oversight, GAO-05-173 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 31, 
2005). The Department of Transportation's Inspector General has also 
found that a top management challenge for the department is making the 
most of federal resources for surface infrastructure improvements 
through continued emphasis on project oversight. See Office of the 
Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, Department of 
Transportation's Fiscal Year 2007 Top Management Challenges, PT-2007- 
004 (Washington, D.C.: 2006). 

[19] In addition, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 
in 2004, 769 people were killed in waterborne transportation accidents 
and, in 2003, 4,666 were injured in these types of accidents. These are 
the latest years for which these data are available. In 2003, the Coast 
Guard, which is responsible for maritime safety, was transferred from 
the Department of Transportation to the Department of Homeland 
Security. 

[20] Motor vehicle fatalities, adjusted for the level of travel, have 
shown some improvement over the last decade, falling from 1.7 deaths 
per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 1995 to 1.5 in 2005. 

[21] Primary enforcement seat belt laws allow police officers to stop 
vehicles and write citations whenever they observe violations of safety 
belt laws. Since SAFETEA-LU was signed into law, three states have 
enacted primary seat belt laws, bringing the total number of states 
with such laws to 25. 

[22] GAO, Truck Safety: Share the Road Safely Pilot Initiative Showed 
Promise, but the Program's Future Success Is Uncertain, GAO-06-916 
(Washington, D.C.: Sept. 8, 2006) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Administration: Education and Outreach Programs Target Safety and 
Consumer Issues, but Gaps in Planning and Evaluation Remain, GAO-06-103 
(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 19, 2005). In addition, in reviewing NHTSA's 
grants to states for reducing alcohol-impaired driving, the 
department's Inspector General has found that the agency's ability to 
gauge the effectiveness of these programs would be improved if states 
had established performance measures. See PT-2007-004. 

[23] GAO, Highway Safety: Improved Monitoring and Oversight of Traffic 
Safety Data Program Are Needed, GAO-05-24 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 4, 
2004). 

[24] GAO, Aviation Safety: FAA's Safety Oversight System Is Effective 
but Could Benefit from Better Evaluation of Its Programs' Performance, 
GAO-06-266T (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 17, 2005); Large Truck Safety: 
Federal Enforcement Efforts Have Been Stronger Since 2000, but 
Oversight of State Grants Needs Improvement, GAO-06-156 (Washington, 
D.C.: Dec. 15, 2005); Natural Gas Pipeline Safety: Integrity Management 
Benefits Public Safety, but Consistency of Performance Measures Should 
be Improved, GAO-06-946 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 8, 2006); and Rail 
Safety: The Federal Railroad Administration Is Taking Steps to Better 
Target Its Oversight, but Assessment of Results Is Needed to Determine 
Impact, GAO-07-149 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 26, 2007). 

[25] GAO, Federal Aviation Administration: Challenges Facing the Agency 
in Fiscal Year 2008 and Beyond, GAO-07-490T (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 14, 
2007) and Aviation Safety: FAA's Safety Efforts Generally Strong but 
Face Challenges, GAO-06-1091T (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 20, 2006). 

[26] GAO, Next Generation Air Transportation System: Progress and 
Challenges Associated with the Transformation of the National Airspace 
System, GAO-07-25 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 13, 2006). 

[27] In addition to FAA, these agencies include the Departments of 
Transportation, Commerce, Defense, and Homeland Security; the National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration; and the White House Office of 
Science and Technology Policy. 

[28] This preliminary estimate--developed by the Research, Engineering 
and Development Advisory Committee, an advisory committee to FAA-- 
indicates that costs for a status quo scenario (i.e., no NextGen) would 
also be about $15 billion per year through 2025. This is due primarily 
to the expectation that, under the NextGen scenario, capital 
expenditures would be higher than under the status quo scenario in the 
near term, but operations costs would be lower because of productivity 
improvements in the longer term. 

[29] GAO-07-25. 

[30] GAO-07-490T. 

[31] Congressional Research Service, Reauthorization of the Federal 
Aviation Administration: Background and Issues for Congress 
(Washington, D.C.: January 29, 2007). 

[32] We added strategic human capital management as a governmentwide 
high-risk area in 2001 because federal agencies lacked a strategic 
approach to human capital management that integrates human capital 
efforts with agency mission and program goals. See GAO-07-310. 

[33] Transportation Research Board, The Workforce Challenge: 
Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for 
Transportation and Transit Agencies, Special Report 275 (Washington, 
D.C.: 2003). 

[34] GAO-03-108. 

[35] A material weakness can involve one or more of the following 
categories: significant weakness of safeguards against waste, loss, 
unauthorized use, or misappropriation of funds, property, or other 
assets; violates statutory authority; results in a conflict of 
interest; deprives the public of significant services, or seriously 
affects safety or the environment; impairs the fulfillment of the 
agency's mission, and/or would result in significant adverse effects on 
agency credibility. 

[36] Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General, PT- 
2007-004 

[37] Agencies using Highway Trust Fund funds include the Federal 
Highway Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 
Federal Transit Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, 
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and Research and 
Innovative Technology Administration. 

[38] Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General, PT- 
2007-004. 

[39] GAO-03-108. 

[40] GAO, Passenger Rail Security: Federal Strategy and Enhanced 
Coordination Needed to Prioritize and Guide Security Efforts, GAO-07-
459T (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 13, 2007). 

[41] GAO, Highway Emergency Relief: Reexamination Needed to Address 
Fiscal Imbalance and Long-Term Sustainability, GAO-07-245 (Washington, 
D.C.: Feb. 23, 2007). 

[42] GAO, Transportation-Disadvantaged Populations: Actions Needed to 
Clarify Responsibilities and Increase Preparedness for Evacuations, GAO-
07-44 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 22, 2006). 

[43] White House Homeland Security Council, The Federal Response to 
Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 2006). 

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