WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has mapped out what it calls “key challenges” facing the implementation of the $660 billion earmarked for infrastructure improvements through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).
In a report dated Oct. 5, OIG officials note that the USDOT “must effectively identify, assess and develop plans to mitigate risks to achieving its goals — particularly the heightened risk of fraud.”
Second, USDOT “will need to recruit, develop and retain the necessary workforce to implement and oversee IIJA programs, while also effectively coordinating with key stakeholders to overcome their immediate administrative challenges and mitigate risks they face amid broader economic challenges,” according to the report. “For example, rising prices, supply chain challenges and limited capacity across a range of industries could blunt IIJA impacts.”
USDOT will also need to enhance and, in some cases, establish effective and efficient processes for awarding and administering IIJA grants and overseeing grantees’ compliance with federal requirements, the OIG report stated.
“We remain committed to helping the department by identifying and recommending actions to address these and other challenges through our audits and investigations,” according to the report.
According to the OIG, some of the biggest challenges include:
- Assessing increased risks of fraud, such as disadvantaged business enterprise fraud.
- Understanding risks for unique policy or financing arrangements.
- Acquiring and maintaining a skilled workforce.
- Coordinating with critical stakeholders (e.g., other federal agencies, state and local partners).
- Addressing the impact of limited industry capacity and rising prices.
- Establishing clear IIJA application and award processes.
- Developing and maintaining oversight procedures.
- Monitoring financial data and responding to non-compliances.
“Fraud and waste risks will be particularly important for USDOT to address as it implements IIJA, as these risks can substantially affect the department’s ability to meet established goals,” the report stated. “IIJA also created new transportation investment programs and significantly expanded many existing ones, potentially increasing the risk of fraud and waste.”
Finally, OIG officials stated that “it will remain paramount that USDOT maintain focus on continuous improvement of its processes for both new and existing financial assistance programs to manage awards throughout their lifecycle — from funding announcement to project closeout — to assure fairness in opportunities and accountability for resources and results. These and other steps will be key to meeting IIJA challenges, mitigating risks, maintaining stewardship over taxpayer dollars, and achieving the many expected benefits of IIJA’s infrastructure projects. We are committed to supporting the department’s efforts to maximize IIJA’s investments.”
To view the full report, click here. ”
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