Monday, December 1, 2008

Broken DOT forfeits needed funding

In case you missed it...

U.S. withholds N.C. transit funds
The Federal Transit Administration doesn't like the way the state oversees local transit

By Bruce Siceloff
The News & Observer
November 28, 2008

The Federal Transit Administration has frozen $25 million in grants for mostly rural public transportation services across North Carolina, citing deficiencies in how the state Department of Transportation oversees local transit programs.

The federal agency says DOT's lapses have cost local transit programs in unspecified lost or delayed funds from Washington. ...

Yvette G. Taylor, the FTA's southeast regional administrator, said in a Nov. 4 letter to Canales that an audit found DOT deficient in 12 out of 21 areas of state responsibility. Her criticism centered on DOT's failure to submit an overall management plan describing how North Carolina allocates federal funds to local agencies and makes sure the money is spent properly.

"NCDOT will not be permitted to draw down FTA funds from any of the [fiscal year] 2008 grants until" Taylor's office approves the management plan, the FTA audit report said.

Taylor told Canales to fix shortcomings in how DOT manages grant money, helps local agencies with their planning and meets the state's needs for inter-city and charter bus service.

She said DOT has not done enough to make sure local agencies meet guidelines for vehicle maintenance, drug and alcohol testing for drivers and services for disabled residents, as well as equal-opportunity rules for hiring and purchasing.

Local agencies rely on DOT to distribute federal funds for a variety of transportation programs that help elderly, disabled, low-income and other mostly rural residents. ...