FAA grants process needs improvement

 - October 1, 2009, 7:10 AM

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report in August warning that the FAA’s process for awarding airport project grants is not meeting requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The act was signed into law in February and provided $1.1 billion for Airport Improvement Plan (AIP) projects. The OIG report noted that more than 50 ARRA projects selected by the FAA fell below the agency’s national priority rating (NPR) minimum threshold of 62 (the threshold for AIP grants is 40 to 42). NPR ratings between zero and 100 rank “candidate projects based on their potential contribution to increase safety and security, enhance capacity and mitigate environmental effects,” according to the OIG report. The OIG concluded that the FAA might need to provide increased oversight for some ARRA grant recipients and that six low-scoring projects had questionable economic merit. These include $13.9 million and $14.7 million, respectively, to replace airports in Akiachak and Ouzinkie, Alaska. The full OIG report is available at www.oig.dot.gov/item.jsp?id=2523.