Concerns Over Requirements in the Proposed Airport and Airway System Development Act

B-197798: Published: Mar 5, 1980. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 1985.

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GAO expressed concern over requirements provided for in S. 1648 and requested the support of the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation in any actions the Committee might take to amend the Airport and Airways Development Act of 1970. Subsection 20(c) of S. 1648 proposed to continue the requirements already provided for in subsection 26(c) of the 1970 act. The 1970 act requires grant recipients to file with the Comptroller General copies of any independent audit reports relating to the use of grant proceeds and requires the Comptroller General to report to Congress on the contents of the audit reports. On the basis of prior experience, GAO believed that subsection 26(c) of the 1970 act should be repealed; therefore, GAO was also opposed to subsection 20(c) of S. 1648. No independent audit reports on the use of grant proceeds had been received by GAO since passage of the 1970 act. This was attributed to a lack of specific requirements that would require grant recipients to obtain audits of the nature referred to in subsection 26(c). Furthermore, GAO saw no need for grant recipients to secure independent audits, since the Federal Aviation Administration or its designated contractors audit the disposition of grant proceeds. Other requirements of S. 1648 would require a large number of airports to provide documentation on the availability of nonfederal funds, airport usage, and extensive information not readily available to grant recipients. In order to evaluate this information, GAO would have to reallocate existing resources, thus leaving other review areas uncovered and impairing its ability to serve Congress effectively. Finally, S. 1648 would require separate studies of defederalized airports by both the Comptroller General and the Secretary of Transportation. Concurrent studies of this nature would constitute a duplication of effort and pose problems in obtaining needed information and records. Since the studies of defederalized airports provided for in S. 1648 were proposed to provide a basis for seeking legislative relief for any airports that were having difficulty making up lost federal assistance, an alternate approach would be to provide the Secretary of Transportation with standby authority either to grant defederalized airports authority to impose a tax, fee, or head charge, or to reinstate an airport's eligibility for federal assistance.

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