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Transportation Programs: Challenges Facing the Department of Transportation and Congress

GAO-09-435T Published: Mar 10, 2009. Publicly Released: Mar 10, 2009.
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A safe, efficient, and convenient transportation system is integral to the health of our economy and quality of life. Our nation's vast transportation system of airways, railways, roads, transit systems, and waterways has served this need, yet is under considerable pressure due to increasing congestion and costs to maintain and improve the system. Calls for increased investment come at a time when traditional funding for transportation projects is increasingly strained. The authorizing legislation supporting transportation programs will soon expire. The Department of Transportation (DOT) implements national transportation policy and administers most federal transportation programs. DOT received funds for transportation infrastructure projects through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to aid in economic recovery. DOT also requested $72.5 billion to carry out its activities for fiscal year 2010. This statement presents GAO's views on major challenges facing DOT and Congress as they work to administer recovery funds and reauthorize surface transportation and aviation programs. It is based on work GAO has completed over the last several years. GAO has made recommendations to DOT to improve transportation programs; the agency has generally agreed with these recommendations. To supplement this existing work, GAO obtained information on the recovery funds provided to DOT.

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AccountabilityAir traffic control systemsAir traffic controllersCommercial aviationCost analysisCritical infrastructureFederal aid for highwaysFederal aid for transportationFederal aid to localitiesFederal aid to statesFederal fund accountsFederal fundsHighway safetyPerformance measuresProgram managementPublic roads or highwaysRisk managementSchedule slippagesState-administered programsTechnological innovationsTransportation planningTransportation policiesTransportation safetyTrust fundsPolicies and proceduresProgram implementation