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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

House transportation leaders want GAO oversight of INFRA grants

Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.)
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Leaders of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and its Highways and Transit Subcommittee are calling for further oversight of a federal competitive grant program after a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found a lack of transparency in projects chosen to receive grants.

The GAO report focused on the selection of projects under the Nationally Significant Freight and Highways Projects (NSFHP) competitive grant program, created under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015.

The first round of grants were issued last year under the name FASTLANE — Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-Term Achievement of National Efficiencies. The Trump administration has renamed it the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program, which is now receiving applications for additional grants.

In its report, the GAO noted that it was unable to determine the rationale for selecting 18 projects that to receive FASTLANE grants.

"This documentation restated the anticipated benefits of the selected projects, but did not otherwise provide insight into why some projects were selected for awards over others. Without complete documentation of the decision-making, the transparency of the application review and selection process is limited," the report stated.

It's important that the U.S. Department of Transportation carry out the program as Congress intended, the committee's leaders said in a press release.

"There needs to be more clarity in this process in the future, and we have requested GAO's continued assessment of the program to help ensure that happens," said Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.), and Highways and Transit Subcommittee Ranking Member Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

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