Safety, Management, and Other Issues Facing the Department in Fiscal Year 1998 and Beyond
T-RCED/AIMD-97-86: Published: Mar 6, 1997. Publicly Released: Mar 6, 1997.
GAO discussed the major safety and security, management, and other issues facing the Department of Transportation (DOT).
GAO noted that: (1) GAO has reported on problems with the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) oversight, including the need to target limited inspection resources, improve safety data reliability and inspector training, and address the security vulnerabilities of the air transportation system; (2) key issues yet to be addressed are how much more all the improvements will cost and how they will be funded; (3) FAA needs a comprehensive strategy to guide the implementation of various aviation studies' recommendations; (4) major opportunities exist to improve the safety of the surface transportation system by reducing the more than 40,000 fatalities each year on the nation's highways; (5) GAO's ongoing work shows that, while the number of truck inspectors at major southern border crossings has increased and two large permanent inspection facilities have been opened, the results of increased inspections do not show a clear trend that Mexican trucks are becoming safer; (6) another primary role of DOT is to ensure that federal transportation funds for aviation, highway, and transit programs are spent effectively and efficiently so that the nation gets the most value for its transportation dollars; (7) FAA needs to adopt a complete systems architecture for its modernization program, improve its cost estimating and cost accounting processes, apply more discipline in its software acquisitions, and broaden its efforts to reform its organizational culture to include stakeholders from across FAA; (8) the Federal Highway Administration (FHwA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) can work with states and transit operators to enhance their ability to more effectively manage the costs of and acquire financing for large-dollar surface transportation projects; (9) after 7 years and $1.3 billion in federal funding, DOT's vision for widespread deployment of the Intelligent Transportation System has not been realized due to a number of obstacles; (10) in its fiscal year 1998 budget, DOT is proposing to focus federal funds on deploying ITS, however, before DOT can aggressively pursue widespread deployment, it must help state and local officials overcome these obstacles; (11) DOT could potentially save millions of dollars by taking advantage of opportunities to consolidate and/or colocate its surface transportation field structure, but DOT has done little to take advantage of these opportunities; and (12) other major issues that DOT and the Congress must address include the long-term financing of FAA, the continuing financial problems of Amtrak, and the Coast Guard's ability to measure its effectiveness in drug interdiction.