Federal Management:

Addressing Management Issues at the Department of Transportation

T-RCED/AIMD-97-172: Published: May 21, 1997. Publicly Released: May 21, 1997.

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GAO discussed critical management issues at the Department of Transportation (D0T) and actions the Congress, Department, and affected parties can take to solve them.

GAO noted that: (1) ensuring the safety and security of travelers on the nation's airways, highways, and waterways is of paramount importance; (2) although the Department has made improvements, there are still opportunities to reduce deaths and enhance the safety and security of the travelling public; (3) to enhance air safety, GAO has consistently identified the need for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to improve how it targets inspections to the areas of highest risk; (4) a key to reducing highway deaths is a strong partnership among federal, state, and local governments; (5) many components of the nation's transportation infrastructure need modernization, renovation, or new investment; (6) major transportation projects for air traffic control modernization, highways, and public transit have been plagued with cost overruns and schedule delays; (7) DOT can do more to improve the management of its aviation and surface transportation programs to ensure that limited federal funds are effectively and efficiently used; (8) FAA needs to adopt disciplined investment management and system acquisition processes, as outlined in recent legislation and promised under the agency's new Acquisition Management System; (9) serious problems in long-term financing for FAA and Amtrak need to be addressed; (10) deciding among various financing alternatives for FAA will involve tradeoffs among factors such as the efficient use of the airport and airway system, fairness to system users, and the effect on competition; (11) Amtrak's financial condition is still very precarious and Amtrak will continue to require substantial federal financial support well into the next century; (12) the Congress could reassess Amtrak's mission and direct that Amtrak or a temporary commission make recommendations and propose options for providing service within available funding; (13) DOT's ability to effectively address many of these management and financial issues depends on having a supportive organizational structure and improved management and financial data; (14) DOT faces several challenges to address its financial management problems, including fully implementing new federal accounting standards; (15) the organizational, information, and financial problems that DOT faces are serious; (16) their solutions require a commitment from the highest levels of the Department so that change can be manifested throughout the Department; and (17) this commitment requires stable leadership to actively promote change and a strong partnership between the Department and the Congress.

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