FHWA Resolves $2.5 Billion of Its Accounting Discrepancy
July 14, 2023|Jeff Davis
As ETW reported five months ago, the Federal Highway Administration told Congress earlier this year that they had discovered a $3.5 billion accounting discrepancy that threatened to possibly force the cancelation of that amount of contract authority held by the 50 state DOTs (and the District of Columbia), pending further investigation. That investigation has now resolved $2.5 billion of that total discrepancy, and states are now being allowed to obligate that money.
The discrepancy was between two different computer systems and their recorded totals of the amount of unobligated contract authority held by the states that was created prior to the enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in November 2021.
FMIS – the FHWA’s grant management software used cooperatively with state DOTs to record the contract authority distributed to states by program, and the disposition of that contract authority – recorded that states collectively held pre-IIJA contract authority that totaled $3.5 billion more than the total recorded in Delphi (the USDOT accounting computing system that is linked with the Treasury Department and Office of Management and Budget computers that produce the federal budget and the official statements of outlays and balances).
If a discrepancy between FMIS and Delphi cannot be resolved, then Delphi (the one that gets audited annually and which is also used by OMB and Treasury) will win, which would mean writing off the $3.5 billion.
So FHWA dug even deeper into the past, and found that in 2005, someone had noticed that the total amount of “liquidating cash” for the highway program (the actual appropriation made by Congress in the annual appropriations bill, to “liquidate,” or pay off, the contracts signed under contract authority obligations) was $2.5 billion too high in Delphi. Somehow, in fixing that $2.5 billion liquidating cash error, someone also removed a corresponding $2.5 billion in contract authority from the system, which they shouldn’t have done. That has now been fixed, and the amount in Delphi increased by $2.5 billion.
FHWA is continuing to look for the source (or sources) of the remaining somewhere-around-$1 billion discrepancy. But solving this much of the problem has allowed FHWA to free up most of the pre-IIJA contract authority held by states in FMIS for potential use (it had, by and large, been frozen since the start of the fiscal year on October 1, pending a resolution of the accounting discrepancy).
FHWA sent states a memo late on July 11 that allows states to obligate up to 70 percent of their balances of pre-IIJA contract authority between now and September 26 (the FMIS end-of-fiscal-year shutdown date). The state-by-state amounts are shown in the table at the end of this article.
FHWA officials hope that by freeing up an extra $2.5 billion in old contract authority, it will be easier for states to use the all-time-record $7.4 billion in extra funding that will be distributed to states on a use-it-or-lose-it basis next month in the annual “August redistribution.” Later on July 11, FHWA issued a notice to states of the deadlines for this year’s August redistribution process – states should let their FHWA Division Office know of their plan for asking for more money by July 20, in order that the plans can be fine-tuned and sent to the FHWA head office by July 28, in hopes that FHWA can distribute the extra money to states by the end of August.
The IIJA’s increase in funding for slow-spending discretionary grant programs and other FHWA “allocated” overhead means that, each year, more and more of the annual obligation limitation has to be set aside to cover unused prior-year carryover contract authority for these programs, which (if still unobligated) gets swept up and given back to states so they can sign a flurry of last-minute contracts, lest the funding permission lapse at the end of the fiscal year.
ETW exclusively reported on February 24 on just how close FHWA came to actually letting money lapses last year, when they had to go back to states a second time and then a third time in order to get enough takers to accept the then-record $6.2 billion August redistribution. This year, FHWA is trying to get ahead of the game by notifying states in advance of the jaw-dropping estimated $7.4 billion total and encouraging them to get much farther ahead in the planning process than they were at this time last year.
The amount of pre-IIJA funding from programs that were continued by the IIJA is shown below, along with the 70 percent limiter which, if used entirely, would get states $3.0 billion of the way towards using the $7.4 billion in the August redistribution…
|Balances of||70% Obligation|
|Dist. of Col.||31,514,294||22,060,006|
https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/port-authority-of-new-york-and-new-jersey-freight-maritime-sea-scaled-2.jpg 1707 2560 Jonathan Hammond https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Eno-Logo-2.png Jonathan Hammond2023-09-22 14:28:102023-09-29 16:03:59House Subcommittee Meets to Discuss Autonomous Maritime Technology, Submarines
Sep 22, 2023 | Kirbie FerrellSeptember 19, 2023 - The House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation met to discuss the use of autonomous...
https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/inland-waterways-water-ohio-river-dam.jpg 1413 2121 Jeff Davis https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Eno-Logo-2.png Jeff Davis2023-08-31 12:07:072023-08-31 14:57:19The History of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund
Aug 31, 2023 | Jeff DavisAugust 31, 2023 - The story of the creation of, and changes to, the Inland Waterways Trust Fund
https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Photo-port-dredging.png 484 773 enoactualize https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Eno-Logo-2.png enoactualize2023-06-16 06:43:492023-06-27 13:45:59As Other Agencies Face Cutbacks, House Appropriators Give Corps Water Program 15% Increase
Jun 16, 2023 | Jeff DavisJune 16, 2023 - A draft bill approved in an House subcommittee yesterday would provide $9.6 billion in new funding...
https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/freight-containers-scaled.jpg 1707 2560 enoactualize https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Eno-Logo-2.png enoactualize2023-05-26 12:39:452023-06-19 12:47:58Trade Subcommittee Discusses Strategies to Modernize Customs Policies
May 26, 2023 | Anusha ChitturiMay 26, 2023 - The House Ways and Means’ Subcommittee on Trade held a hearing on May 25 to discuss...
https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/capitol-capital-congress-senate-house-scaled-1.jpg 1707 2560 enoactualize https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Eno-Logo-2.png enoactualize2023-05-26 11:13:332023-06-19 12:05:05House T&I Approves 16 Surface and Maritime Transportation Bills
May 26, 2023 | Jeff DavisMay 26, 2023 - The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this week approved sixteen bills making discrete policy changes to...
https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/cargo-supply-chain-freight-port-maritime-boat-shipping.jpg 1396 2146 enoactualize https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Eno-Logo-2.png enoactualize2023-05-12 14:42:412023-06-19 10:29:49House Committee Reviews Port Cybersecurity in Latest Hearing
May 12, 2023 | Garett ShrodeMay 12, 2023 - On Wednesday, May 10, the Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security under the House Committee on...
https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/port-authority-of-new-york-and-new-jersey-freight-maritime-sea-scaled-1.jpg 1707 2560 enoactualize https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Eno-Logo-2.png enoactualize2023-04-28 10:31:332023-06-20 07:44:12House Committee Approves 2-Year Coast Guard Authorization Bill
Apr 28, 2023 | Jeff DavisApril 28, 2023 - The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on April 26 approved a bipartisan, two-year Coast Guard and...
https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/maritime-boat-freight-port-ship.jpg 1499 2000 Anusha Chitturi https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Eno-Logo-2.png Anusha Chitturi2023-03-31 20:41:122023-04-14 11:29:36Maritime Industry Discusses Ocean Shipping Reform and More
Mar 31, 2023 | Anusha ChitturiMarch 31, 2023 - The House T&I’s Sub-committee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing on maritime transportation...
https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/senate-chamber-edited.jpg 533 800 Jeff Davis https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Eno-Logo-2.png Jeff Davis2022-12-16 16:08:392023-04-14 11:27:47Senate Clears Defense/Water/Coast Guard Bill After Rejecting Manchin Permitting Amendment
Dec 16, 2022 | Jeff DavisDecember 16, 2022 - Last night, the Senate voted to approve the 4,310-page legislative behemoth based on the national defense...
https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/iStock-495755592.jpg 1363 2200 Jeff Davis https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Eno-Logo-2.png Jeff Davis2022-10-14 11:05:392023-04-14 11:26:44Defense Authorization Bill Adds WRDA, Coast Guard, MARAD, Drone Bills
Oct 14, 2022 | Jeff DavisOctober 14, 2022 - The annual Pentagon policy bill took shape this week as one of the two must-pass vehicles...
https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Ann-Phillips-at-HTIC-Sept-13-2022-hearing.png 203 426 Philip Plotch https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Eno-Logo-2.png Philip Plotch2022-09-15 19:58:572023-04-14 11:26:19House Hearing Outlines Need to Resolve Interagency Disputes for Enforcing Cargo Preference
Sep 15, 2022 | Philip PlotchSeptember 15, 2022 - This week, the House Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss how to...
https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/water-768546_1280-e1495719336461.jpg 500 750 Jeff Davis https://enotrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Eno-Logo-2.png Jeff Davis2022-07-29 17:27:102023-06-27 17:12:04Senate Releases FY23 Corps of Engineers Funding While Passing WRDA Bill
Jul 29, 2022 | Jeff DavisJuly 29, 2022 - Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the text of its bill funding the Corps for the...
September 15, 2023 | Jeff Davis
September 15, 2023 - We now have the full details of which FHWA competitive grant programs spent money so slowly...
August 31, 2023 | Jeff Davis
August 31, 2023 - Today, the Federal Highway Administration distributed $7.915 billion in extra highway funding to states, on the...
July 14, 2023 | Jeff Davis
July 14, 2023 - After almost two years of explosive growth, the Federal Highway Administration's metric of highway construction costs...
July 14, 2023 | Jeff Davis
July 14, 2023 - The Federal Highway Administration has resolved $2.5 billion of its $3.5 billion accounting discrepancy that was...
July 7, 2023 | Jeff Davis
July 7, 2023 - The Biden Administration's latest round of RAISE grant announcements has an all-time high share of bike-ped...
March 17, 2023 | Jeff Davis
March 17, 2023 - The Biden Administration announced that the first $625 million of an eventual $2+ billion provided by...
February 24, 2023 | Jeff Davis
February 24, 2023 - Last August, the Federal Highway Administration almost let $250 million in highway funding lapse forever, unspent,...
February 3, 2023 | Jeff Davis
February 3, 2023 - The Federal Highway Administration told Congress this week that $3.5 billion in federal-aid highway contract authority...
February 3, 2023 | Jeff Davis
February 3, 2023 - The Federal Highway Administration this week notified state DOTs that they would be able to obligate...
December 23, 2022 | Jeff Davis
December 23, 2022 - Later this morning, the House of Representatives is scheduled to consider and pass the 4,125-page, $1.7...
December 22, 2022 | Jeff Davis
December 22, 2022 - How much money is actually provided by the fiscal 2023 omnibus appropriations bill?
December 20, 2022 | Jeff Davis
December 20, 2022 - At around 1:30 a.m. this morning, Congressional negotiators filed the text of the much-awaited $1.7 trillion...