US GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE
What GAO Found
From 2005 to 2009, every state received more funding for highway programs than they contributed to the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund. This was possible because more funding was authorized and apportioned than was collected from the states, and the fund was augmented with about $30 billion in general revenues since = fiscal year 2008. If the percentage of funds states contributed to the total is compared with the percentage of funds states received (i.e., relative share), then 28 states= received a relatively lower share and 22 states received a relatively higher share than they contributed. Thus, depending on the method of calculation, the same state can appear to be either a donor or donee state.
The Equity Bonus Program was used to address rate-of-return issues. It guaranteed a minimum return to states, providing them with about $44 billion. Nearly all states received Equity Bonus funding, and about half received a significant increase—at least 25 percent—over their core funding.
The infusion of general revenues into the Highway Trust Fund affects the relationship between funding and contributions, as a significant amount of highway funding is no longer provided by highway users. Additionally, using rate of return as a major factor in determining highway funding poses challenges related to performance and accountability in the highway program; in effect, rate-of-return calculations override other considerations to yield a largely predetermined outcome—that of returning revenues to their state of origin. Because of these and other challenges, funding surface transportation programs remains on GAO’s High-Risk list.
About the US Government Accountability Office
“The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the “congressional watchdog,” GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. The head of GAO, the Comptroller General of the United States, is appointed to a 15-year term by the President from a slate of candidates Congress proposes. Gene L. Dodaro became Acting Comptroller General of the United States on March 13, 2008, succeeding David M. Walker, who appointed him upon resigning. Gene L. Dodaro became Comptroller General of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on December 22, 2010, when he was confirmed by the United States Senate. He was nominated by President Obama in September of 2010 and had been serving as Acting Comptroller General since March of 2008.”