Highway Funding

The Federal Highway Administration's Funding Apportionment Model Gao ID: RCED-97-159 June 5, 1997

The legislation that authorized $155 billion through 1997 for surface transportation programs is due for reauthorization. As part of the reauthorization debate, several proposals have been made to alter the existing formula by which federal-aid highway money is apportioned to the states. To make effective policy decisions, Congress needs accurate estimates of funding under the various proposals. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has developed and is operating, with the help of a contractor, a new apportionment model to estimate the expected distribution of federal funds under the various proposals. This report examines whether the model matches the current highway funding formula and whether it is adaptable to various reauthorization proposals.

GAO noted that: (1) FHwA's new apportionment model matches the highway funding formula contained in the governing legislation; (2) the model captures the structure of the overall apportionment process, accurately representing the interrelationships among programs and equity categories and how each builds on the other; (3) the model is internally consistent to the extent that the various parts of it work well together and that the operation of one part does not adversely affect another part; (4) furthermore, the model is adaptable to reflect the provisions of new highway funding proposals; (5) however, the model is complex because of the complexity of current law, and this complexity does not lend itself to the widespread use of the model by staff not trained in its structure and programming language; (6) furthermore, as with any model, the precision of its estimates will depend on the accuracy of the data and subroutines that are used for alternative legislative proposals; and (7) however, GAO found that the FHwA office responsible for overseeing the model does not verify new input data, nor does it have staff with the technical expertise to verify the accuracy of new subroutines developed by the contractor.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Team: Phone:

The Justia Government Accountability Office site republishes public reports retrieved from the U.S. GAO These reports should not be considered official, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Justia.