UMTA Needs Better Assurance That Grantees Comply With Selected Federal Requirements

RCED-85-26: Published: Feb 19, 1985. Publicly Released: Feb 19, 1985.

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As a result of the Urban Mass Transportation Administration's (UMTA) increasing reliance on grant certifications in the administration of federal aid to mass transportation systems, GAO reviewed 20 grantees' compliance with federal requirements on procurement, charter bus operations, school bus operations, and the provision of transportation for the elderly and the handicapped.

GAO found that, while UMTA grant compliance monitoring mechanisms have identified instances of noncompliance: (1) Inspector General (IG) audits are not specifically intended to review compliance, and IG responsibilities do not include routine examinations of every UMTA grantee; (2) independent audits have concentrated on financial matters; and (3) complaints by third parties are limited by their knowledge of the regulations. However, GAO believes that triennial reviews will provide an opportunity to supplement existing mechanisms for ensuring grantee compliance with federal regulations. Although all of the grantees reviewed had self-certified that they were complying with UMTA regulations, GAO found instances of noncompliance with charter bus regulations, school bus regulations, and procurement requirements but not with elderly and handicapped regulations. Furthermore, GAO found that the grantees' interpretations of regulations were not always consistent, and that legal rulings clarifying regulations did not reach all grantees and UMTA officials. Finally, GAO found that, when UMTA has been made aware of grantee noncompliance, it has chosen to work with grantees to bring about compliance rather than to withhold grant funds or sue to recover funds. However, UMTA does not have guidelines for handling noncompliance which ensure that the agency takes appropriate enforcement action on noncompliance cases.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The UMTA Triennial Review Notice contains such instructions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, UMTA, to require UMTA triennial reviews to emphasize compliance with those regulations that are not routinely covered by IG and independent audits.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: UMTA has agreed to disseminate and publish legal rulings regularly.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, UMTA, to increase the understanding of and compliance with UMTA regulations by disseminating legal rulings, such as those on charter and school bus operations, to all grantees and UMTA regional offices.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The guidelines established outline actions UMTA may take in response to noncompliance, but do not provide sufficient guidance on which enforcement actions are appropriate in different situations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, UMTA, to establish guidelines for appropriate enforcement action when noncompliance is identified.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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