Use of Defense Roads Program Limited, GAO Finds

Since 2004, Congress has allocated almost $125 million for 11 projects under the Defense Access Roads (DAR) program at domestic growth installation sites, according to a new study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). A total of 20 projects have been certified by the Defense Department as eligible for DAR funding, but given expected funding delays and the extended time frame necessary to complete major traffic construction, most of the approved projects are unlikely to mitigate transportation needs arising from the 2005 BRAC round in the near term.

Usage of the program has been limited by a lack of knowledge of the program, outdated regulations and unclear guidance on how to navigate the program’s complex process, concluded the congressional watchdog agency.

Greater high-level federal interagency coordination may be necessary to meet the estimated $2 billion in transportation improvements needed by BRAC growth communities. In failing to convene the 22-agency Economic Adjustment Committee, the Pentagon so far has not provided the leadership critical to achieving effective interagency collaboration, GAO found. As of last November, DOD had never assembled the entire Economic Adjustment Committee to address transportation issues facing the defense communities surrounding 26 growth installations.

The department’s Office of Economic Adjustment has provided technical assistance and grants for growth planning; however, that agency cannot guide interagency cooperation at a high enough level to identify potential funds needed to fill the unmet transportation needs, the report said.

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