Airport Improvement Program:

State Block Grant Pilot Program Is a Success

T-RCED-96-86: Published: Mar 14, 1996. Publicly Released: Mar 14, 1996.

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GAO discussed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) state block grant pilot program, which is part of its Airport Improvement Program (AIP). GAO noted that: (1) the 7 states in the pilot program are providing a board range of services to small airports and performing many functions that FAA formerly performed, such as long-range planning assistance, grant administration, safety and security inspections, and technical assistance and oversight; (2) airport officials believe that the only differences between FAA and state services are that state inspectors visit more frequently and are more knowledgeable; (3) the states' success under the pilot program is due to their already established state-financed airport development and inspection programs, experience with planning and oversight functions, and experienced staff; (4) participants and FAA believe that the program has streamlined AIP project approval processes, reduced paperwork requirements, eliminated duplication, and enhanced FAA ability to shift resources to other high-priority tasks; (5) the states would rather use their own project criteria than FAA national criteria because they include more state-level factors, but FAA believes its criteria are more equitable and ensures the development of a national airport system; and (6) 80 percent of nonparticipating states would like to receive block grants and most could successfully administer the grants, but they are concerned about autonomy and the availability of administrative funds under the program.

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