In June 2003, we reported that over 60 federal programs can fund transportation services for certain "transportation-disadvantaged" populations (such as some elderly persons, persons with disabilities, or low-income persons) that lack the ability to provide their own transportation or have difficulty accessing conventional public transportation, but that several obstacles impede coordination of these programs. Most of the programs are administered by four federal departments--Transportation, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education. Coordinating these disparate federal efforts could result in more efficient use of federal resources and in improved services for these transportation-disadvantaged populations. In fact, some local areas that have overcome existing obstacles and successfully coordinated the services offered by federal programs and others available in their area have realized improved customer service and substantial cost savings. To promote and encourage further coordination of the transportation services provided by these programs, we recommended that (1) the Departments of Labor and Education join the Departments of Transportation and Health and Human Services as members of the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (Coordinating Council); (2) the members of the Coordinating Council develop and distribute additional guidance to states and other grantees that encourages the coordination of transportation services; (3) the member departments ensure that the Coordinating Council's strategic plan and each member department's strategic and annual performance plans have long-term goals and performance measures related to coordinating the departments' programs and improving transportation for transportation-disadvantaged populations; and (4) the member departments link their Web sites to the Web site of the Coordinating Council and advertise the site in departmental correspondence and other outreach opportunities. In addition to these recommendations, we identified several more general options for improving coordination--including developing improved leadership and establishing interagency forums at the federal, state, and local levels; harmonizing differing federal program standards and requirements; and providing financial incentives to encourage state or local agencies to coordinate. Congress asked us to (1) determine whether the four federal departments and the Coordinating Council have taken steps to address our recommendations and (2) identify actions taken by the four federal departments in relation to the options we outlined for improving coordination.
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