Friday, May 29, 2009

GAO Reports on Job Access Program

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has just issued its latest analysis of the Federal Transit Administration's Section 5316 Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program. In the latest report, GAO finds that states and urbanized areas are starting to obligate funds and deliver a variety of projects, with most JARC funds being used to cover operating costs.

Noting that 14 percent of FY 2006 JARC funds lapsed , GAO agreed with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that there were several factors behind these lapses of funding, including delays arising from the time spent by FTA meeting with stakeholders and crafting program guidance, and the number of steps required by law to deliver projects, including the designation of recipients, development of coordinated plans, and competitive basis for project selection.

GAO found that there continue to be some structural program challenges, including:
  • Difficulty in securing non-federal matching funds;
  • Complexity facing states as they manage statewide JARC programs for their rural and smaller urbanized areas; and
  • Complexity of managing and delivering JARC projects in very large metropolitan areas, including coordination challenges among multiple JARC recipients and challenges coordinating JARC services with other FTA-funded transit activities in these metro areas.
The bottom line of this report, though, is summed up in GAO's introductory statement, "FTA is making progress in awarding funds and has awarded about 48 percent of the $436.6 million in JARC funds apportioned for fiscal years 2006 through 2008 to 49 states and 131 of 152 large urbanized areas."

The GAO report is "Federal Transit Administration: Progress and Challenges in Implementing and Evaluating the Job Access and Reverse Commute Program," and is report number GAO-09-496, issued May 21, 2009. Available on line from the GAO website:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rogoff Confirmed to Lead FTA

The Senate confirmed Peter Rogoff as our nation's newest Federal Transit Administrator on May 22. Mr Rogoff comes to the FTA after serving 22 years on the staff of the US Senate Appropriations Committee, including 14 years as Democratic staff director for the subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations.

UPDATE: Mr Rogoff makes his official industry debut on June 2 at the Community Transportation Association EXPO in Providence, RI. Read more at

Sunday, May 17, 2009

DOT Solicits TIGER Applications

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, or the "stimulus bill") authorized $1.5 billion in discretionary grants to be awarded by the Secretary of Transportation. On May 18, the US Dept of Transportation (DOT) announced the availability of these grants. Applications are due by September 15, 2009.

Although these grants are not specific to any mode, there is much about this solicitation that should interest public and human services transportation stakeholders. First and foremost are the selection criteria: one of the two "primary selection criteria" is a set of long-term outcomes, which include elements of livability and sustainability; the second primary selection criterion is job creation and economic stimulus; one of the two "secondary selection criteria" is partnership, in which the DOT specifically states "The Department [of Transportation] will give priority to projects that demonstrate strong collaboration among a broad range of participants and/or integration of transportation with other public service efforts."

In other words, projects that demonstrate significant and meaningful coordination between transportation and such aspects as housing, community development and job creation are certain to have a competitive advantage in this solicitation.

Eligible applicants are "State and local governments, including U.S. territories, tribal governments, transit agencies, port authorities, other political subdivisions of State or local governments, and multi-State or multi-jurisdictional applicants."

Although ARRA specified that projects to be funded under this program would be between $20 million and $300 million, the DOT has determined that it may waive the $20 million floor, and is willing to entertain proposals for projects that are less than $20 million in scope. Other than by browsing the May 18, 2009, Federal Register, the text of this notice has not yet been posted (as of May 17). However, more information is available on-line at

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

CMS Proposes Permanent Suspension of Certain Rules

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed a permanent rescission of some rules that were issued this past autumn. If finalized, the rules that would NOT take effect are those affecting school-based Medicaid services (including transportation for school-based Medicaid), outpatient hospital services, and case management services.

CMS is soliciting comments on this proposed rescission. Comments are due June 1, 2009. While it seems likely that these rescissions will indeed take effect, nothing is certain. For more information, read the CMS notice in the May 6, 2009, Federal Register at page 21232, or contact Lisa Parker of CMS by phone at 410-786-4665.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Kansan Tapped to Head AoA

The following is an official announcement from the US Administration on Aging.

President Obama announces intention to nominate Kathy Greenlee as U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging

The Administration on Aging is pleased to report that on Friday, May 1, 2009, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Kathy Greenlee, Kansas Secretary of Aging, for Assistant Secretary for Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Kathy Greenlee has served as Secretary of Aging for the state of Kansas since January 2006. In that capacity, she has led a cabinet-level agency with 192 full-time staff members and a total budget of $495 million. Her department oversees the state’s Older Americans Act programs, the distribution of Medicaid long-term care payments and regulation of nursing home licensure and survey processes. Ms. Greenlee has served on the board of the National Association of State Units on Aging since 2008. From 2004-2006, Greenlee served as State Long-Term Care Ombudsman in Kansas, and prior to that, was the state’s Assistant Secretary of Aging. From 1999-2002, Greenlee served as general counsel at the Kansas Insurance Department. During her tenure there, she led the team of regulators who evaluated the proposed sale of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas, and oversaw the Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas program. Greenlee also served as Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations for then Governor Kathleen Sebelius. She is a graduate of the University of Kansas with degrees in business administration and law.

Prior to assuming her official duties as Assistant Secretary for Aging, Ms. Greenlee will be officially nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Rural Development funds available from HUD

It's a very short turnaround time: applications are due May 29, 2009. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has just announced its FY 2009 solicitation for grant proposals under the Rural Housing and Economic Development Program. As in the past, a total of $26 million is available for this year's "RHED" grants. Eligible applicants include tribes, state housing finance agencies, state and local economic development agencies, rural nonprofits, and community development corporations. Projects must be in rural areas, which in this program is defined as either (a) a non-urban place [that's a Census term] having fewer than 2500 inhabitants, regardless of whether the place is inside or outside a metropolitan statistical area, (b) a county (or Louisiana parish) with 20,000 or fewer inhabitants, or (c) any place with 20,000 or fewer inhabitants that is not inside a metropolitan statistical area. The primary focus on this year's soliciation are strategies to address housing and housing finance in rural areas, but other possibilities exist. For more information, go on-line to

Friday, May 1, 2009

Congress Passes Budget Resolution

This week, Congress passed its FY 2010 budget resolution. Typically, nonbinding resolutions such as this are interesting, as they signal the tenor of the annual budget and appropriations debate. This year, there's more significance, as the resolution includes a $325 billion reserve to cover SAFETEA-LU reauthorization.