DOT's Budget:

Management and Performance Issues Facing the Department in Fiscal Year 1999

T-RCED/AIMD-98-76: Published: Feb 12, 1998. Publicly Released: Feb 12, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed key resource management issues and performance challenges facing the Department of Transportation (DOT) in 1999 and beyond.

GAO noted that: (1) there is a need for increased management attention to highway, transit, and rail programs-which account for 67 percent of DOT's fiscal year (FY) 1999 budget request-in several areas; (2) the improved oversight of large dollar highway and transit projects costing hundreds of millions to billions of dollars could help to ensure that they are well managed and can be successfully financed and that costs are controlled; (3) important management challenges face the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which accounts for about 23 percent of DOT's budget request; (4) a consensus does not exist regarding FAA's future funding needs or an appropriate finance mechanism; (5) additional challenges face the agency in improving the safety and efficiency of its aviation system; (6) with a relatively flat budget in recent years, the Coast Guard may need to continue cost-cutting efforts and achieve savings beyond its accomplishments from recent streamlining actions; (7) GAO has urged the Coast Guard to develop a more comprehensive strategy to achieve additional cost savings, which may necessitate a fundamental reassessment of the agency's missions, goals, services, and customer needs; (8) Amtrak is in a very precarious financial position and remains heavily dependent on federal assistance; (9) DOT's budget proposes $621 million for Amtrak's capital expenses but no funding for operating expenses in FY 1999; (10) Amtrak's FY 1997 net loss was $762 million and would have been higher without the one-time sale of certain assets; (11) the corporation's goal is to eliminate the need for federal operating support by 2002; (12) Amtrak is likely to continue to require federal financial support-both operating and capital-well into the future; (13) DOT faces additional department-wide issues that affect its ability to effectively manage programs and address performance concerns; (14) GAO has repeatedly pointed out serious problems with DOT's information resources and database management; (15) these problems will be aggravated by challenges facing DOT in addressing the year 2000 problem; (16) DOT needs to address the issue of unreliable financial management information because of problems with its financial reports, accounting systems, and internal controls; (17) if properly implemented, the Government Performance and Results Act could be a useful tool for addressing many of the issues GAO has identified; and (18) the Results Act should provide DOT with an incentive to develop quality data for managing programs and for congressional oversight.

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