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August 20, 2004:

The Honorable Richard C. Shelby:

Chairman:

The Honorable Paul S. Sarbanes:

Ranking Member:

Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs:

United States Senate:

The Honorable Don Young:

Chairman:

The Honorable James L. Oberstar:

Ranking Democratic Member:

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure:

House of Representatives:

Subject: Job Access and Reverse Commute: Program Status and Potential 
Effects of Proposed Legislative Changes:

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21ST Century (TEA-21) authorized 
the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program to increase the 
transportation options of low-income workers. The act created JARC, in 
part because, as the act states, two-thirds of all new jobs were 
located in the suburbs, while three-fourths of welfare recipients lived 
in rural areas or central cities, and even in metropolitan areas with 
excellent public transportation systems, less than half of the jobs 
were accessible by transit. Under JARC, the Federal Transit 
Administration (FTA) provides grants to transit agencies, local human 
service agencies, and others to fill gaps in transportation services 
for welfare recipients and other low-income individuals. Both houses of 
Congress have approved separate legislation to reauthorize surface 
transportation programs including JARC.

TEA-21 also required us to provide regular updates on the status of 
JARC. As agreed with your offices, this letter addresses (1) changes in 
program funding since fiscal year 1999 and the possible effects of 
further changes proposed in bills to reauthorize JARC, (2) the possible 
effects of proposed legislative changes to program coordination 
requirements, and (3) FTA's 2003 evaluation of the program and plans 
for future evaluations.

To respond to your request, we obtained and summarized financial data 
from FTA. We also compared current legislation and program requirements 
with proposed requirements in reauthorization bills in both the House 
(H.R. 3550) and Senate (S. 1072). We then analyzed the potential 
effects of changes in legislation by interviewing interest groups and 
JARC grantees. Finally, we reviewed FTA's evaluation of JARC and 
interviewed FTA officials about plans for future evaluations. We 
determined that all data used in this report were sufficiently reliable 
for our purposes. We performed our work from April through July 2004 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Our 
scope and methodology are discussed in more detail near the end of this 
report.

Results in Brief:

Since fiscal year 1999, the process for awarding JARC program funds has 
changed, and proposed legislative changes would require further 
modifications. Initially, FTA competitively selected all grant 
recipients, but over time Congress has increasingly designated grantees 
through appropriations legislation. Whereas FTA selected all grantees 
in fiscal year 1999, Congress designated all grantees in fiscal years 
2003 and 2004 through appropriations legislation. Two proposed 
legislative changes would affect JARC funding. First, the House bill 
proposes that JARC funds would be distributed to states and urban areas 
through formula grants rather than through project-specific 
appropriations. Second, the House bill also proposes to decrease the 
matching fund requirement for capital expenditures from 50 percent to 
20 percent. These proposed changes are not in the Senate bill. Both of 
these changes would make JARC similar to other FTA grant programs. 
Grantees and interest groups with whom we spoke had mixed opinions 
about these changes.

Proposed legislative changes to JARC coordination requirements would 
provide funding and change the requirements for coordination. 
Specifically, the House's proposed bill would allow up to 10 percent of 
JARC funds to be used for administrative, planning, and technical 
assistance activities. Currently, no funds can be used for these 
activities. This proposed change is not in the Senate bill. This change 
will likely facilitate program coordination with transportation and 
human service providers, according to most industry groups and grantees 
with whom we spoke. Another proposed change in both bills would require 
agencies that receive JARC funds to certify that their program is the 
result of a coordinated plan that includes local stakeholders, such as 
transit providers, human service agencies, and the public. Currently, 
certification is not required. The effect of this change would depend 
on the specific guidance that FTA provides for implementing a 
certification requirement, according to industry groups and grantees 
with whom we spoke.

Although FTA's 2003 evaluation of JARC provides some useful information 
about some JARC projects, it does not provide national, generalizable 
evidence of the program's performance. FTA's evaluation is based on 
several sources of data, most of which cannot be generalized to the 
entire JARC population. The program is difficult to evaluate because 
individual programs have different goals and serve different 
populations, such as those in rural and urban areas. FTA has taken 
steps to improve its evaluation process and plans further improvements. 
For example, FTA introduced a Web-based reporting system to facilitate 
grantees' reporting of program data.

Background:

TEA-21 authorized JARC to provide grants to help low-income individuals 
and welfare recipients access employment opportunities. The program's 
two major goals are to (1) provide transportation and related services 
such as childcare and (2) to increase collaboration among 
transportation providers, human service agencies, employers, and 
others. Local JARC projects can include increasing the frequency of 
existing transit along current routes, providing vanpool services, or 
providing information to the public about existing transportation 
services.

TEA-21 also required FTA to conduct an evaluation of JARC by June 2000. 
TEA-21 did not discuss specific elements to be included in the 
evaluation. Finally, TEA-21 required that we report on the 
implementation of the program, and we have issued multiple reports on 
the program from 1998 through June 2003.[Footnote 1] These reports 
found, among other things, that JARC has increased coordination among 
transit and human service agencies, but that FTA was slow in evaluating 
the program. We also recommended that FTA's evaluation address the key 
goals of the program.

Process for Awarding Program Funds Has Changed Over Time, and Proposed 
Legislation Would Institute Further Changes:

The process for awarding JARC grants has changed from a competition 
administered by FTA to an annual designation of grant recipients in 
federal appropriations legislation. Two proposed legislative changes 
would result in further modifications. First, in the House bill JARC 
funds would be distributed to states and urban areas through a formula 
grant instead of through project-specific appropriations. Second, the 
House bill would also reduce the matching fund requirement for capital 
expenditures from 50 percent to 20 percent. These changes are not in 
the Senate bill. These changes would make JARC similar to other FTA 
grant programs. While these changes could provide a reliable source of 
funds for some projects, the changes could adversely affect some JARC 
projects in states with low population, according to grantees and 
interest groups with whom we spoke.

Congress Has Appropriated Almost $600 Million for JARC and Has 
Designated All JARC Grants Since Fiscal Year 2003:

In total, JARC has been appropriated approximately $583 million for 
fiscal years 1999 through 2004. TEA-21 authorized JARC to receive a 
maximum of $150 million annually since its inception in fiscal year 
1999. In addition, some JARC funds are "guaranteed," or subject to a 
procedural mechanism designed to ensure that minimum amounts of funds 
are made available each year. The guaranteed amount of funding for the 
program has risen from $50 million in fiscal year 1999 to $150 million 
in fiscal year 2003.[Footnote 2] However, in fiscal year 2003, Congress 
transferred $45 million from JARC to the New Starts program.[Footnote 
3] As a result, Congress appropriated about $45 million less than the 
guaranteed amount in fiscal year 2003 (see fig. 1). The annual 
appropriations for JARC have ranged from a low of $75 million in fiscal 
years 1999 and 2000 to a high of $125 million in fiscal year 2002.

Figure 1: JARC Funding, Fiscal Years 1999 through 2004:

[See PDF for image]

Notes: Dollar amounts are not adjusted for inflation.

There is no guaranteed funding amount for fiscal year 2004 because JARC 
was authorized through fiscal year 2003 and is currently operating 
under the latest in a series of short term extension acts.

[End of figure] 

While JARC began as a competitive grant program, the program has become 
congressionally designated through appropriations legislation. The 
amounts of JARC funds available for competitively selected grants have 
decreased since fiscal year 1999. In fiscal year 1999, $75 million 
(representing all of the appropriated JARC funds) was awarded through 
the competitive selection process. This number decreased each year 
until 2003 and 2004, when no JARC grants were awarded through the 
competitive selection process. In contrast, the amount of 
congressionally designated grant money has generally increased over the 
life of the program. In fiscal year 1999, no grantees were 
congressionally designated; however, Congress designated approximately 
$50 million in fiscal year 2000 and then increased the amounts for 
designated grants until fiscal years 2003 and 2004, when almost all of 
the money appropriated to the program was congressionally designated 
(see fig. 2).[Footnote 4]

Figure 2: Funds Appropriated for Competitively Selected and 
Congressionally Designated Grants, Fiscal Years 1999 through 2004:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Congress has also transferred money from JARC to FTA's New Starts 
program through appropriations legislation. Congress transferred $45 
million from JARC to the New Starts program in fiscal year 2003 and $20 
million in fiscal year 2004. In addition, Congress has transferred 
unobligated balances--funds that have not been spent by grantees--when 
the funds have remained unobligated for a period of time.

Specifically, Congress transferred through appropriations legislation 
approximately $1 million of fiscal year 1999 unobligated balances to 
the New Starts program in fiscal year 2003, and approximately $4.5 
million of fiscal years 2000 and 2001 unobligated balances to the New 
Starts program in fiscal year 2004 (see table 1).

Table 1: Unobligated Amounts as of April 30, 2004, Fiscal Years 1999 
through 2004:

[See PDF for image]

Source: FTA.

Note: Data are from fiscal year 2004, so a large unobligated balance 
for fiscal year 2004 is expected.

[A] According to FTA officials, $500,000 of the unobligated funds was 
not transferred to New Starts because that money was about to be 
obligated when Congress transferred funds.

[B] Includes funds for FTA's evaluation.

[End of table]

Stakeholders Identified Advantages and Disadvantages of Formula 
Funding:

Proposed legislation in the House would change JARC to a formula grant 
program, under which JARC funds would be distributed through a formula 
based on the number of low-income individuals and the number of welfare 
recipients in each area. The proposed legislation would also continue 
the allocation established in TEA-21, in which 60 percent of the funds 
would be distributed to urbanized areas with populations equal to or 
greater than 200,000; 20 percent of the funds would be distributed to 
states for urbanized areas with populations less than 200,000; and 20 
percent of the funds would be distributed to the states for nonurban 
areas.

FTA officials generally support the change to a formula program, but 
expressed concern about one aspect of the formula. According to FTA 
officials, changing JARC to a formula program has several benefits. 
First, the formula provides a known annual funding allocation that will 
result in a steady stream of funds to states and localities. Currently, 
JARC funding is determined each year, and it is therefore difficult for 
states and localities to predict their future funding level. Second, 
according to FTA officials, project sponsors would know how much money 
they would get in future years under a formula grant program and would 
be able to plan their programs accordingly. Third, FTA officials told 
us that states would have the flexibility to commingle funds for 
smaller urban and rural areas.[Footnote 5] In the past, the amount of 
money available for smaller urban areas has exceeded the demand for 
funds; therefore, it would be useful for states to be able to redirect 
funds to areas with more need, according to FTA officials. Fourth, FTA 
officials told us that changing JARC to a formula grant program may 
help prevent JARC funding from being transferred to other programs as 
it was in fiscal years 2002 through 2004 because formula program funds 
have traditionally not been transferred to other programs. FTA 
officials told us that they are concerned about one aspect of the 
current legislative proposal--including the number of welfare 
recipients as a factor in determining the formula. FTA officials told 
us that JARC is designed to serve all low-income individuals and not 
just welfare recipients. According to FTA officials, many welfare 
recipients begin working as a means of transitioning off of welfare 
and, therefore, the number of welfare recipients should not affect the 
current demand for JARC services. In addition, these officials told us 
that it would be difficult to obtain data needed to include welfare 
recipients in the formula. Specifically, FTA officials told us that 
data on the number of welfare recipients who live in urban and nonurban 
areas is not readily available. As a result, it would be difficult to 
include the number of welfare recipients as a factor in distributing 
JARC funds.

Interest groups that represent state and community transportation 
employees had some concerns about formula funding if the program 
continues to be authorized at the current level. Specifically, interest 
groups we spoke with expressed concern that, under a formula, states 
that are largely rural or have low populations may not get the level of 
support necessary to continue all of the JARC services currently funded 
within their states. This is because some rural projects have benefited 
from congressional designation, and their state could receive less 
money under a formula grant. One interest group characterized the 
formula funding mechanism as spreading around the available JARC funds 
across the country, rather than concentrating the limited funds on 
individual projects. Interest groups also told us that formula funding 
could be more beneficial to JARC if the program received more funds and 
could, therefore, continue to fund projects throughout the country. 
However, within a constrained transit budget, increases in JARC funding 
could come at the expense of other federal transit programs.

Grantees we spoke with expressed mixed opinions about formula funding 
as follows:[Footnote 6]

* Seven of 18 grantees told us that they do not support formula 
funding. Some grantees said they are concerned that they may receive 
less funding under a formula grant mechanism. For example, one grantee 
we interviewed said that if formula funding was used, it would receive 
less funding, and another grantee told us that formula funding could 
cause JARC projects within its rural state to shut down.

* In contrast, 4 of 18 grantees told us that they support formula grant 
funding because they believe that they will be able to plan their 
projects if they have a reliable source of funds for several years. One 
grantee that supports formula funding for this reason added that the 
worst thing a transportation provider can do is to start, stop, and 
restart service because the provider loses credibility with riders. 
Another grantee that supports this change had counted on funding for 
fiscal year 2005 but did not receive funds through the appropriations 
process.

* In addition, 3 of 18 grantees told us that they would prefer to 
receive JARC money directly from FTA and not have to work through their 
state governments. Under a formula grant, nonurban areas would receive 
funds through the state. Grantees told us that JARC might not receive 
the attention it deserves from their states.

* In contrast, one grantee told us that state involvement would be 
beneficial, particularly in fostering coordination, because human 
service agencies already have established relationships with the state 
and know how to work with the state, so they may be more likely to 
participate in JARC.

Decrease in Matching Fund Requirement Would Make JARC Similar to Other 
FTA Programs:

Another proposed legislative change in the House bill would make the 
matching fund requirement for JARC consistent with the matching 
requirements for other FTA programs. Specifically, grantees could 
receive a grant for up to 80 percent of the project's capital expenses, 
which are used to purchase capital equipment such as buses. Currently, 
projects can receive a grant for up to 50 percent of the project's 
capital expenses. Projects would continue to be eligible for grants of 
up to 50 percent of their operating expenses--that is, the costs of 
their day-to-day operations. FTA officials told us that this change 
would lessen any confusion about matching requirements among grant 
recipients who participate in multiple FTA programs.

Some interest groups echoed what FTA told us--that this change would 
make the requirements for JARC consistent with those for other FTA 
programs. We spoke to some members of one interest group who are 
employees in state departments of transportation. One of those members 
expressed concern that the decrease in the matching fund requirement 
could lead to greater capital investment at the expense of program 
operations. This member is concerned that JARC may become like other 
FTA programs, which, according to this member, stress capital 
investment over service delivery.

Grantees with whom we spoke told us that this change would either be 
positive or not affect their programs. Six of 18 grantees told us that 
changing the matching fund requirement for capital costs would allow 
them to increase the services they provide and the numbers of vehicles 
they use to provide services. Four of 18 grantees told us that this 
change would be positive because it would make the requirements for 
matching funds in JARC similar to the matching requirements for other 
FTA programs. In contrast, 4 of 18 grantees told us that this change 
would not affect them because they do not use any capital funds in 
their project. FTA officials told us that approximately 15 percent of 
JARC funds are currently spent on capital costs. Therefore, this 
change may increase the proportion of JARC funds used for this purpose.

Allowing Program Funds to Be Used for Administration Could Enhance 
Coordination, but Some Stakeholders Expressed Concern about 
Certification Requirements:

Two proposed legislative changes would affect program coordination. The 
first change is only in the House bill and would allow 10 percent of 
JARC funds to be used for technical assistance activities, including 
planning projects and coordinating with local stakeholders. Currently, 
no JARC funds may be used for these activities. This change would 
likely facilitate program coordination, according to the interest 
groups and grantees that we interviewed. The second change is in the 
House and Senate bills and would require agencies to certify that their 
JARC project is the result of a coordinated plan. The effect of this 
change on program coordination would depend on the guidance that FTA 
provides.

Groups Generally Support Use of Grant Funds for Administrative 
Activities:

A change proposed in the House bill would allow up to 10 percent of 
JARC grants to be used for administrative, planning, and technical 
assistance activities. These activities include planning new JARC 
projects and coordinating with stakeholders. According to FTA 
officials, interagency and stakeholder coordination may be strengthened 
because JARC funds could be applied to collaborative activities.

Interest groups told us that allowing funds to be used for 
administrative, planning, and technical assistance activities is a good 
idea, because it would provide funds for coordination. However, one 
interest group questioned why funds for these activities are capped at 
10 percent; this group believes that there should be no restriction on 
how funds are spent.

Twelve of 18 grantees we spoke with said that this change would 
increase coordination because they could bring these funds to the 
planning table and show potential partners that there is money to 
cover collaborative activities. Four of 18 grantees said that there 
would be no discernable effect because agencies will perform 
administrative, planning, and technical assistance activities 
regardless of whether funds are authorized for this purpose. According 
to these grantees, they would perform collaborative and administrative 
activities even if they were not reimbursed for them. Nevertheless, 3 
of 18 grantees said that this change would be helpful because, in the 
past, they had to use other sources to fund their collaborative 
activities.

Some Stakeholders Are Concerned about Proposed Certification 
Requirements:

Both the Senate and the House bills propose that JARC grantees certify 
that their projects were developed from a locally coordinated plan that 
resulted from a process that included key stakeholders. Under this 
proposal, states would review locally coordinated plans and FTA would 
periodically evaluate the review process in each state and urban area. 
FTA supports this certification requirement as a means of ensuring 
that coordination continues if the program transitions to a formula 
grant. FTA officials told us that the success of the certification 
requirement would depend largely on the implementation guidance that 
they would develop after reauthorization legislation passes.

Interest groups we interviewed expressed the following variety of 
opinions about the proposed certification requirement:

* Some interest groups that we spoke with stressed the importance of 
FTA's role as well as that of Congress in setting clear guidelines in 
developing and instituting coordination certification. Some members 
from one interest group stressed that they already participate in 
complex, organized planning processes, and they are concerned about how 
the new requirement would fit into their current activities. They 
suggested that FTA delay enforcing this requirement until states have 
had an opportunity to fully incorporate the guidelines into their 
planning process.

* One interest group is concerned that a formal certification process 
may detract from the importance of developing a genuinely coordinated 
plan. This group also believes that certification may be overly 
prescriptive and administratively burdensome and could discourage 
potential grantees from participating in JARC.

* However, one interest group told us that it supports the 
certification requirement and does not believe that the requirement 
will be difficult or burdensome.

Eleven of 18 grantees that we interviewed said certification would have 
no impact on their programs because agencies already coordinate and 
will continue to do so. Two:

of 18 grantees said they understand the need for this requirement to 
ensure that collaboration is occurring, and grantees are hopeful that 
future certification requirements will clarify the requirements for 
coordination. Six of 18 grantees are concerned that the process of 
certifying coordination may be administratively burdensome.

FTA's Evaluation Provides Useful Information, but It Does Not 
Constitute a National Assessment of JARC:

Although FTA's evaluative report to Congress provides some useful 
information about some JARC projects, it does not provide national, 
generalizable evidence of the program's performance. The program is 
difficult to evaluate, and FTA plans to continue to improve its 
evaluation process.

TEA-21 Required FTA to Evaluate JARC:

As previously stated, TEA-21 required FTA to report once to Congress by 
June 2000 on the results of its evaluation of JARC. Although TEA-21 did 
not describe specific elements that should be included in the 
evaluation, we recommended in December 2002 that the report should 
address JARC's effectiveness in meeting its goals of providing 
transportation-related services and enhancing collaboration among 
stakeholders.[Footnote 7] FTA issued its report in May 2003 that 
addressed JARC's key goals.[Footnote 8] According to FTA's evaluation, 
JARC has made thousands of entry-level jobs and employers accessible 
for the program's target populations; increased access to employment 
support sites; created significant low-income ridership; and 
established collaborative partnerships among transportation and human 
service agencies and local, state, and national government.

FTA's Evaluation Is Limited:

FTA told us that it faced several obstacles in evaluating JARC, 
primarily because grantees had difficulty collecting and submitting 
information. For example, in 2001 FTA required grantees to report 
quarterly data using a database that many grantees found to be 
burdensome. Some grantees even had to acquire the database software and 
learn the program, according to FTA officials. In addition, grantees 
were required to submit data on a quarterly basis and were required to 
submit some data that were difficult to obtain, such as the number of 
potential employers reached by JARC services and the number of jobs 
accessible within a quarter mile of a new fixed-route stop.[Footnote 9] 
Finally, some transportation providers were not accustomed to reporting 
the socioeconomic data FTA wanted, while some human service 
organizations were not used to maintaining the transportation 
statistics that FTA requested.

FTA used data from five sources in its 2003 JARC evaluation: (1) annual 
grantee reports as of January 1, 2000; (2) fourth quarter 2001 grantee 
reports; (3) a University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) report based on 
a survey of riders at 23 sites; (4) 16 case studies that FTA conducted; 
and (5) GAO's 2000 survey of JARC grantees. The evaluation uses these 
data sources to present a descriptive analysis of some JARC projects; 
however, the mix of data sources does not provide a consistent 
evaluation of the program over time and among grantees. In addition, 
specific information in FTA's evaluation may not be consistent because 
some grantees did not always follow a standardized reporting system. 
Specifically, grantees that completed an annual grantee report in 2000 
did not follow a standardized reporting system--in these reports, 
grantees only described the effectiveness of individual projects--and 
so information taken from these reports may not be consistent.

The data FTA used in its 2003 evaluation are limited because four of 
the five sources FTA used provided data and descriptions of benefits 
for specific project locations, but these results could not be 
generalized to all JARC grantees. Specifically, the results of the 2000 
annual grantee reports, 2001 quarterly grantee reports, UIC report, and 
FTA's case studies are not generalizable to all JARC grantees for at 
least three reasons. First, the response rates of the annual and 
quarterly grantee reports were low, 24 percent and 42 percent, 
respectively. Second, there is no assurance that the grant recipients 
who submitted these reports were similar to those recipients who did 
not submit reports. For example, we do not know if the grantees that 
submitted reports had more effective programs than those who did not 
submit reports. Though FTA recognizes that generalizing the findings of 
the quarterly grantee reports to the entire grantee population could be 
misleading, FTA relies on these data sets to provide much of the key 
information used to assess the program. For example, FTA reported on 
the number of new employment sites accessed with JARC funds--a level of 
precision not justified by the number of responses obtained. Third and 
finally, the UIC study data are not generalizable because they are 
based on a small number of sites (23) that were not randomly selected.

The fifth source, GAO's 2000 survey of JARC grantees, had an 89 percent 
response rate, so the information from the survey reliably reflected 
the views of the grantees surveyed, and the results could be 
generalized to the entire grantee population.[Footnote 10] The survey 
addressed JARC grantees' opinions about FTA's implementation of JARC, 
the program's effect on coordination among the variety of organizations 
involved in getting people to work, and the usefulness of JARC.

Finally, the 2000 and 2001 grantee reports do not indicate the 
completeness or the accuracy of the data that were reported by grant 
recipients. The grantee reports contain self-reported information, 
which FTA does not verify. In addition, JARC grantees generally had 
difficulty submitting complete information on a timely basis. FTA 
acknowledges that it could be misleading to use the data from these 
reports to determine JARC's performance nationwide. However, FTA uses 
these data to provide key information, such as the number of new 
employment sites made accessible by JARC services.

Because FTA's evaluation of JARC lacks consistent, generalizable, and 
complete information, the data cannot be used to draw any definitive 
conclusions about the program as a whole. The evaluation only provides 
information about some JARC projects and does not represent an overall 
evaluation of the program.

FTA Plans to Improve the Evaluation Process:

FTA has plans in place for improving its next program evaluation and 
the grantee reporting process. However, it has been and continues to be 
a struggle for FTA to develop comprehensive performance measures that 
assess a national program when individual grantee programs, operations, 
and features vary. For example, it would be difficult to use one set of 
measures to assess a program that provides fixed-route transportation 
services and then use the same set of measures to assess a program that 
provides information and coordination services. FTA is working with a 
consultant and UIC to improve program evaluation and reporting and 
plans to fully implement a new reporting system by fiscal year 2005.

To make reporting less burdensome for grantees, FTA has replaced its 
initial reporting system with a Web-based system and now requires 
reports on an annual rather than a quarterly basis. FTA officials 
report that they have seen improvement in the number of grantees who 
submit reports. Specifically, according to FTA officials, almost 80 
percent of grantees submitted reports for fiscal year 2003. Once the 
reported data is verified, it should allow FTA to make national 
performance projections for JARC, according to FTA officials. In 
addition, FTA is considering revising performance measures for the 
program. For example, FTA officials said that they are considering the 
feasibility of measuring the actual number of employers reached rather 
than the number of new employment site stops created by JARC services.

FTA is just beginning to acquire new data and update their performance 
measures for evaluating JARC. Therefore, it is too early for us to 
determine if these changes to the evaluation process will improve the 
quality of information FTA obtains. As a result, we do not know if FTA 
will be able to issue a better evaluation of JARC if Congress requires 
FTA to evaluate the program when it reauthorizes JARC.

Scope and Methodology:

To summarize financial information for JARC for fiscal years 1999 
through 2004, we gathered and analyzed data from FTA's Web site and 
agency officials on dollar amounts authorized, guaranteed, 
appropriated, congressionally designated, competitively allocated, 
obligated, and unobligated. To assess the reliability of the data, we 
interviewed agency officials knowledgeable about the data and checked 
for obvious errors in completeness and accuracy. We determined the 
information was sufficiently reliable for our purposes. We also 
researched TEA-21 and appropriations acts to determine the amount of 
funds authorized, guaranteed, appropriated, rescinded, and transferred 
under JARC.

To analyze the potential effects of proposed legislative changes on 
JARC, we reviewed current legislative and program requirements and 
compared them with proposed legislative requirements. We designed and 
conducted semistructured telephone interviews with 18 of the 185 JARC 
grantees that were active last fiscal year--2003--to gain their 
perspectives on proposed legislative changes. We classified the 
grantees into six categories (state departments of transportation, 
cities, metropolitan planning organizations, transportation agencies, 
nonprofit organizations, and others) and randomly selected three 
grantees from each category to obtain the views of a variety of 
grantees. However, these surveys cannot be generalized to the entire 
JARC grantee population because of the small survey population. We 
also interviewed FTA officials and officials from interest groups, 
including the American Association of State Highway and Transportation 
Officials, the American Public Transportation Association, the 
Community Transportation Association of America, and the National 
Association of Regional Councils, to obtain their views on the 
possible effects of proposed changes.

To assess the extent to which FTA has evaluated JARC, we reviewed FTA's 
program evaluation, Job Access and Reverse Commute Program: Report to 
Congress (May 2003) and focused on the performance measures and 
indicators used; the existence of relevant, reliable, and timely 
information; the methodology used; the extent of effective monitoring 
of the program; and reported results. We also interviewed agency 
officials about FTA's plans for future evaluations.

Agency Comments:

We provided DOT a draft of this report for their review and obtained 
comments from agency officials in FTA and the Office of the Secretary. 
These officials provided some clarifying comments, which we have 
incorporated where appropriate.

We are sending copies of this report to the cognizant congressional 
committees, the Secretary of Transportation, and the FTA Administrator. 
The report will also be available at no charge on the GAO Web site at 
http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please 
contact me at siggerudk@gao.gov or Catherine Colwell at 
colwellc@gao.gov. Alternatively, I can be reached at (202) 512-2834. 
Major contributors to this report were Elizabeth Eisenstadt, Denise C. 
McCabe, Susan Michal-Smith, Sara Ann Moessbauer, and John W. Shumann.

Signed by: 

Katherine A. Siggerud:

Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues:

(542034):

FOOTNOTES

[1] GAO, Welfare Reform: Implementing DOT's Access to Jobs Program, 
GAO/RCED-99-36 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 8, 1998).

GAO, Welfare Reform: Implementing DOT's Access to Jobs Program in Its 
First Year, GAO/RCED-00-14 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 26, 1999).

GAO, Welfare Reform: DOT is Making Progress in Implementing the Job 
Access Program, GAO-01-133 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 4, 2000).

GAO, Welfare Reform: GAO's Recent and Ongoing Work on DOT's Access to 
Jobs Program, GAO-01-996R (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 17, 2001).

GAO, Welfare Reform: Competitive Grant Selection Requirement for DOT's 
Job Access Program Was Not Followed, GAO-02-213 (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 
17, 2001).

GAO, Welfare Reform: Job Access Program Improves Local Service 
Coordination, but Evaluations Should Be Completed, GAO-03-204 
(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 6, 2002).

GAO, DOT's Job Access and Reverse Commute Program: Briefing to 
Congressional Staff. (Washington, D.C.: June 2003).

[2] There is no guaranteed funding amount for fiscal year 2004 because 
the program was authorized through fiscal year 2003 and is currently 
operating under the latest in a series of short term extension acts.

[3] FTA's New Starts program awards full funding grant agreements for 
fixed-guideway rail, certain bus, trolley, and ferry projects.

[4] In fiscal years 2003 and 2004, all funds were congressionally 
designated except for approximately $300,000 each fiscal year that was 
designated for FTA's evaluation.

[5] See H.R. 3550,  5316 (c) (3), 108TH Cong. (2004).

[6] The number of grantee opinions does not add up to 18 (100 percent 
of those we spoke to) because some grantees had more than one opinion 
on a subject matter while others had no opinion. In addition, these 
numbers are not generalizable to all JARC grantees.

[7] GAO-03-204.

[8] Federal Transit Administration, Job Access and Reverse Commute 
Program Report to Congress. (Washington, D.C.: May 2003).

[9] At a fixed-route stop, vehicles stop to pick up and deliver 
passengers along a specific route.

[10] GAO-01-133.