Mass Transit:

Reauthorization Offers Opportunity To Address the Appropriate Federal Role

T-RCED-91-41: Published: Apr 24, 1991. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 1991.

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GAO discussed the Urban Mass Transportation Administration's (UMTA) management of its grant programs and 5-year, $16.3-billion reauthorization proposal. GAO noted that the proposal: (1) provided for a nominal 1-percent increase in authorized mass transit funding, as opposed to the proposed 25-percent nominal increase for highway funding; (2) could represent a 17-percent decrease in real dollars, in contrast to a 4-percent increase in real dollars for highway funding; (3) would allow state and local governments more flexibility in allocating federal funds between mass transit and highway projects; (4) needed to consider the biases that favor funding highways over mass transit to ensure effective integration of both systems; and (5) would shift a larger share of the financial burden to grant recipients by reducing the federal share for capital projects from 80 percent to 60 percent. GAO believes that, although UMTA attributed oversight weaknesses to staffing shortages and requested additional staffing authority to correct the deficiency, UMTA also needs to: (1) recognize the systemic nature of its very serious oversight problems; (2) ensure that grantees have effective management systems; (3) take a proactive oversight approach rather than rely on grantees' assurances; and (4) use the full scope of its monitoring tools and enforcement authorities.

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