Guarding against fraud

News February 22, 2001
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U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General Ken Mead has warned the Senate that the 40% increase in federal funding for highways and transit is a tempting target for fraud. The problem has increased the need for federal project oversight by the U.S. DOT.

Testifying at a Senate appropriations hearing, Mead noted that the recent influx of funding due to TEA-21 and AIR-21 is comparable to the beginning of building the Interstate system under the Eisenhower Administration.

The inspector general's office has found that fraud is on the increase.

"U.S. DOT needs to greatly improve its stewardship and oversight of transportation funding across all modes," Mead said. He added that the inspector general's office, the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are currently involved in a major anti-fraud initiative.

Mead pointed to particular challenges facing the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). In the course of a year the number of full-grant-agreement projects the agency oversees jumped from 15 to 28, with another six pending.

Mead said New Start projects in particular require intensive oversight, and given the fact that the money authorized in TEA-21 for new starts is already exhausted, FTA will have to work with Congress to address anticipated shortfalls in oversight funding.

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