The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant program lacks transparency according to the preliminary GAO report released on May 28, 2014. The second part was released today highlighting suggested reforms to the TIGER Program to improve the project application and selection process. The GAO report was initially requested by Vitter on April 3, 2013.
"Since it started the TIGER grant program has been plagued by a lack of transparency in the decision-making process and mishandling of the management of the program," Vitter said. "The application and project selection process have been major concerns because they lack any merit-based structure and transparency - making the program more about meeting the Obama Administration's political needs versus our infrastructures needs. I'm pleased the Department of Transportation has agreed to make reforms, and I'll continuing working with them to properly implement these reforms in order to bring transparency and performance-based standards to the program."
The TIGER grants started in the controversial $831 billion "stimulus" funding that passed Congress in 2009. In 2011, GAO reported transparency concerns with the program saying "DOT cannot definitively demonstrate the basis for its award selections, particularly the reasons why recommended projects were selected for half the awards over highly recommended ones." DOT was appropriated a total of $4.2 billion for grants through the program. Vitter has previously criticized the Obama Administration for politicizing how the grants were awarded. This year was the first year any Louisiana projects received a grant since 2011.
Vitter initially made the request to GAO to provide oversight of the methods used for selecting who receives a TIGER grant. Vitter asked how applications are advanced and selected to ensure the process is done in a transparent manner. The GAO report reaffirms that the TIGER program continues to operate under an absence of proper administration and a lack of transparency in the decision making process.