Long Term Management of New Starts Program

The recommendations contained in this Report are intended to bring greater focus to and improve the management of the New Starts program. As the program becomes increasingly oversubscribed, the cost of completing all projects in the development process at any one time far exceeds the amount of Federal funds likely to be available. The New Starts caseload consists of 74 proposed projects seeking Federal discretionary funds.

FTA will allocate funds according to the following strategy: First, existing or pending funding commitments would be honored before any additional commitments are made, to the extent that these projects are capable of obligating funds. Next, statutory authorizations (earmarks) in ISTEA would be considered, again to the extent that the projects are ready for funding. Finally, other worthy projects may be considered for funding provided they are capable of obligating funds.

Projects with existing commitments will be funded first, with funding levels adjusted as necessary to compensate for appropriations shortfalls or unforeseen circumstances that affect their ability to obligate funds as scheduled. Projects expected to receive Federal funding commitments over the next year will be funded based on their ability to obligate funds on a timely basis. Finally, single­year grants will be allocated to projects requiring minimal Federal funding to complete, again based on their ability to obligate funds in a timely manner.

Funding commitments for these projects will necessarily reach beyond the current authorization. In the short term, this will be accommodated through the contingent commitment device. Over the long term, these commitments will be fulfilled as part of a reauthorized program. Sufficient contingent commitment authority exists to issue new FFGA's during 1996. The sequencing of these approvals will be dependent on which projects complete the necessary steps in the process during 1996. As additional projects in the new starts caseload mature, they will be funded as the program allows.

Table 3: Remaining Commitment Capacity Under ISTEA