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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Government report faults FRA oversight of California high speed project (corrected) NEWSWIRE

Government report faults FRA oversight of California high speed project (corrected) NEWSWIRE

By | January 25, 2020

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Trains_Washington_Watch
Trains_Washington_Watch

WASHINGTON — A government report issued Friday says the Federal Railroad Administration provided inadequate oversight of federal funds granted to California’s high speed rail program, and as a result, $2.55 billion in FRA funding “is at increased risk of not achieveing the purpose of the agreements.”

The report from the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General says that while the FRA “routinely” found required documents from the California High Speed Rail Authority to be in sufficient, and assisted in improving submissions, it failed to take actions, such as withholding funds, to address the state agency’s failure to meet grant requirements. It also says the FRA did not ensure that California spending met Federal requirements, and did not identify all discrepancies.

The report also makes four recommendations on revising policies to better access when to take further action over noncompliance, assess risks of noncompliance, define a framework for determining minimum acceptable standards for plans involving grants, and provide guidance for the FRA to conduct detailed assessment of grant recipients’ procedures to comply with federal requirements.

A response from FRA Administrator Ron Batory, included as an appendix to the report, disputes some of its conclusions, saying “the draft report does not accurately reflect FRA’s actions related to the two California cooperative agreement or FRA’s grant oversight program;” that it incorrectly places responsibility on the FRA that belongs with the agency receiving the grant, and that it underreports the extent of FRA’s monitoring and other actions to facilitate California compliance, among other issues.

The report was requested by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), chairman of the House transportation Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

— Note: Dollar figure corrected to $2.55 billion at 10:50 a.m. CST on Jan. 27.

13 thoughts on “Government report faults FRA oversight of California high speed project (corrected) NEWSWIRE

  1. “the draft report does not accurately reflect FRA’s actions related to the two California cooperative agreement or FRA’s grant oversight program;” that it incorrectly places responsibility on the FRA that belongs with the agency receiving the grant”

    Too funny. Blame the other guy. You gave them the money, they signed an agreement to abide, but its their fault because gosh darn, they didn’t abide, not our fault for not checking up on them to validate. Geez whiz, we expected them to tell us they were out of compliance with the agreement, even though we kept sending yet more money to them.

    As long as the FRA kept approving the disbursements, and never checked on compliance, why would the accepting agency say anything to stop it? They were already performing unethically, did you think they would just auto-magically reform themselves?

  2. I cannot believe that FRA legal staff did not stop Batory from making such a foolish statement. The granting federal agency is always required to perform oversight and legally cannot delegate that responsibility to the state/local/educational/etc agency receiving the grant. And I speak as a former overseer of a non-transportation federal grant program.

  3. The lawyer full employment act! If you have ever seen the mountains of paper work associated with federal grants it is no wonder that agencies have great difficulties.

  4. The “$2.55 million” figure mentioned in the Trains Magazine article is three orders of magnitude too small (ie, it’s a major typo!). The statement from DoT Inspector General’s report was “As a result, the $2.55 billion that FRA provided to CHSRA is at increased risk of not achieving the purpose of the agreements.”

  5. Mister Petit:

    Sir!

    The above comments are cynical in nature and do not form the basis for an attorney/client relationship. They do not constitute legal advice. I am not your attorney. First thing we do, we kill all the lawyers.

  6. Ms Harding, dead on, to call question on the slam.

    Mr. Reiter, do expand and explain what the motive might be, I am seriously curious and not making jest, Thanks

  7. This project is a fine example that would be nice to have and quite useful at a tenth the price.

    The route is so indirect that end – to – end is a joke, so like many rail projects it will be about the intermediate cities. Which is fine and as it should be. If it were affordable.

    Intermediate city pairs like Bakersfield to LA, or San Berdoo to San Diego, or Fresno to San Jose, are far enough apart to benefit from the higher speed. But not for what this will cost.

    The May 2019 issue of TRAINS-MAG has a map showing the route. Even knowing a bit about California’s geography it’s shocking how roundabout the route is.

  8. Batory is a BAFOON!!! Every time he opens his mouth CRAP comes out like saying 4 eyes are no better than 2 when it comes to safety on a freight train. I should know my 2 are the ones he’s saying are not necessary. GO PLAY on the tracks FRA HACK

  9. First, yes this is part of Jeff Denham’s continued harassment of the project. Second, there have been far too many “games” by the FRA concerning this project and their oversight. Since the summer of 2018 there has been greater and greater disengagement by the FRA. The disengagement began with non response for months on the CHSRA request for NEPA assignment. Other communications halted in the following months until the complete block out last spring after the bungled California State of the State address and the bungled understanding of what was said. After that time the FRA essentially ceased all communication with CHSRA (apparently including refusal to take any calls from the CHSRA CEO) Apparently this communication and cooperation cutoff has been a violation of the administrative procedures for handling grant/project problems (which has always been more engagement and communication for resolution, not a blackout) This apparently is a main source of the CHSRA lawsuit against the FRA. I would wonder if during the discovery process for the CHSRA lawsuit they will request all communication between the FRA and Jeff Denham’s and Kevin McCarthy’s offices to see if there is cooperation on harassment of the CHSRA.

  10. Your government at work and some politicians want to have the government run healthcare! I can tell you after working at a commuter railroad in So. California after working in Chicago after 20 years of service, projects are run by the consultant community in California and not the assigned personal at the railroad. There is little oversight from both state and federal responsible entities. As a voter, knowing the situation, voted against the high speed rail in California. I knew or had a good hunch things would go out of control. It did!

  11. I would gently remind the readership that the voters of California’s 10th Congressional District saw fit to send Representative Denham into retirement at the 2018 general election. Josh Harder, who now holds the seat, has a rather different view of transportation needs in his district. For example, see this press release from last October, responding to some stirrings from the Governor’s office about adjusting the transportation funding mix:

    “Raiding funding from important local projects in the Central Valley is wrong. We pay outrageously high taxes – including for gas – and it’s time we start seeing some of the benefits we paid for. The governor needs to keep his hands off the funding we need in the Central Valley – the 99 needs to be expanded, the ACE train has to make it on the list of priority projects funded by new revenue, and not a penny of the money for high-speed rail should be taken out of the Valley.”

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