Highway Funding: The Federal Highway Administration’s Funding Apportionment Model
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Highway Funding: The Federal Highway Administration’s Funding Apportionment Model

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    • Abstract:
      The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has developed and is operating, through the use of a contractor, a new apportionment model to estimate the expected distribution of federal-aid funds under various legislative proposals. Because of the importance of the accuracy and reliability of these estimates, the General Accounting Office (GAO) was asked to validate the model. GAO examined whether the model matches the current highway funding formula and whether it is adaptable to a variety of reauthorization proposals. Briefly, GAO found the following: FHWA's new apportionment model matches the highway funding formula contained in the governing legislation. The model captures the structure of the overall apportionment process, accurately representing the interrelationships among programs and equity categories and how each builds on the other. The model is internally consistent to the extent that the various parts of it work well together and that the operation of one part does not adversely affect another part. Furthermore, the model is adaptable to reflect the provisions of new highway funding proposals. However, the model is complex because of the complexity of current law, and this complexity does not lend itself well to the widespread use of the model by staff not trained in its structure and programming language. Furthermore, as with any model, the precision of its estimates will depend on the accuracy of the data and subroutines that are used for alternative legislative proposals. However, GAO found that the FHWA office responsible for overseeing the model does not verify new input data, nor does it have staff with the technical expertise to verify the accuracy of new subroutines developed by the contractor.
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