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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed airports' capacity to finance their future development, focusing on: (1) how much airports of various sizes are spending on capital development and where the money is coming from; (2) whether current funding levels will be sufficient to meet capital development planned for the 5-year period from 1997 through 2001; and (3) the potential effect of various proposals to increase airport funding, if a difference exists between current funding and planned development.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation 1. To help smaller airports fund some of the cost of their capital development, but to avoid undermining the level of federal support for larger airports, the Secretary of Transportation should seek authority from Congress to use Airport Improvement Program grants to capitalize state revolving funds in those circumstances where states have a demonstrated capability and desire to manage a revolving fund.
Closed - Not Implemented
On April 20, 1998, the Secretary of Transportation submitted, as part of the FAA reauthorization bill, a new statute that would implement GAO's recommendation. The statute, Section 47135(e)(1)-(7) would permit "a state to loan all or part of the federal share of allowable costs of an airport development project eligible under the state block grant program under section 47128 of this title to a sponsor of this project." However, neither the House or Senate reauthorization bills, H.R. 4057 and S. 2279, included DOT's proposed statute.

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