FY17 Year-End Budget Totals: $93.9 Billion for Transportation

October 27, 2017

The end-of-year totals for the federal budget are now available on a preliminary basis in the September 2017 Monthly Treasury Statement. Among (many) other things, the data reveals that the federal government spent $93.9 billion on the transportation budget function in fiscal 2017. (This is in terms of outlays, or cash leaving the federal government and changing hands – not the spending permission granted by Congress (budget authority) or exercised by the executive branch (obligations) – those are reported later.)

The transportation budget function (function 400) includes:

  • Everything at the U.S. Department of Transportation except the Maritime Security Program;
  • the Transportation Security Administration;
  • most U.S. Coast Guard spending (not the defense portion or the small environmental account);
  • the small, independent regulatory agencies (FMC, NTSB, STB, Amtrak IG); and
  • the NASA aeronautics research account.

In nominal terms, $93.9 billion is an all-time high for transportation spending, but in terms of a share of the economy, the spending continues its long post-stimulus slide.

A little over $79 billion of that $93.9 billion was from the Department of Transportation. ($79.44 billion minus somewhere in the $200-300 million range for that non-transportation Maritime program.) The totals in the MTS are not always broken down by account, but they are for the largest account (except Amtrak – MTS reporting did not convert to the new accounting system at Amtrak yet). The big news on the outlay front, which shows you by how long outlays can lag budget authority and obligations: in 2017, the Federal Railroad Administration spent almost $2.4 billion in outlays from the high-speed rail appropriations made in the FY 2009 ARRA stimulus law and the FY 2010 DOT Appropriations Act. In the cast of the FY09 ARRA money, $8 billion in budget authority was provided in FY09, all of it had to be obligated by FRA by the end of FY12, and any money not already outlaid was going to evaporate in a puff of smoke at midnight on September 30, 2017.

Spending Outlays at USDOT in FY 2017
Millions of dollars.
Net Outlays
Office of the Secretary 745
Federal Aviation Administration
Operations (GF) 1,093
Operations (TF) 8,895
Facilities & Equipment 2,530
Research & Development 161
Airport Grants 3,282
Other -96
Total, FAA 15,866
Federal Highway Administration
Federal-aid Highways 43,585
Other 583
Total, FHWA 44,167
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 562
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 947
Federal Railroad Administration
Amtrak Capital/Debt Service Grants 268
High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail 2,448
Other 1,886
Total, FRA 4,602
Federal Transit Administration
Transit Formula Grants 9,460
Capital Investment Grants 1,922
Other 880
Total, FTA 12,263
Maritime Administration 467
Other USDOT 380
Proprietary Receipts from the Public -324
Offsetting Governmental Receipts -135
Other -100
Total, USDOT 79,440

In terms of the larger budget picture, spending on the transportation function is still just 2 percent of total federal spending.

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