|5.) Transportation project spending is uncontrollable – biased cost analyses, lack of information, and other structural impediments
General Accounting Office, February 2000, “Funding Trends and Opportunities to Improve Investment Decisions”, http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/588838.pdf
Federal agencies and the Congress face several challenges in determining the appropriate levels of and effective approaches to infrastructure investment. First, there is a general lack of accurate, consistent information on the existing infrastructure and its future needs. For example, in some cases, the current information may not distinguish between genuine needs and “wish lists.” In other cases, the information may not identify all the needs. In addition, federal agencies have not taken a consistent approach to analyzing the costs and benefits of potential infrastructure projects, which would help in setting priorities and determining noncapital alternatives. Moreover, until recently, agencies have not been required to relate their planned infrastructure spending to their missions and goals, so evaluating these plans has presented a challenge to agencies and the Congress. Finally, the federal budget structure does not prompt explicit debate about infrastructure spending that is intended to have long-term benefits. Overcoming these impediments will not be easy. Recent guidance by the Office of Management and Budget and legislation such as the Government Performance and Results Act may provide interim steps toward doing so. However, these steps might not go far enough toward improving infrastructure investments because spending decisions are made by a variety of agencies and levels of government that have differing goals and missions. In order to better coordinate these investments to meet national, regional, and local goals and ensure that they are mutually supportive, it is crucial that agencies throughout the government reduce inefficiencies in their current investments and analyze potential investments to identify those that achieve the greatest benefits in the most cost-effective manner.
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