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7/15/2004



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

USDOT forms credit council to oversee department-wide loan programs



The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) recently created a department-wide credit council to manage direct loan and loan guarantee programs — totaling $7.5 billion — administered by the Federal Railroad, Highway and Maritime administrations, and Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

Scheduled to meet quarterly, the council is modeled after the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Credit Council, which will be combined into the department-wide body. The council comprises the assistant secretary for budget and programs/chief financial officer, who serves as chair; under secretary of transportation for policy; general counsel; assistant secretary for transportation policy; federal railroad, transit, highway and maritime administrators; and director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

The council will be charged with streamlining and speeding application review processes while preserving autonomy within each administration. For example, Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program applications will continue to be submitted to the FRA, which will approve or disapprove loans.

"As we continue to build a transportation infrastructure and transportation assets that keep our economy moving, it is critical that we act on proven principles of financial management to assure both taxpayers and users of the department's direct loan and loan guarantee programs that we are protecting the integrity and management of these programs," said Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta in a prepared statement.


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