Welfare Reform Implementing DOT's Access to Jobs Program.
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC RESOURCES COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIV
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Since the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century authorized the Access to Jobs program in June 1998, the Department of Transportation has made several important decisions about the programs basic structure and operating procedures, including a decision about how it will distribute the 75 million available for the program in fiscal year 1999. The Department has decided that it will distribute the funds to as many areas as possible by setting suggested limits on the amounts areas can receive on the basis of their population levels. Under this approach, the Department intends to provide first-year grants that average 1 million for large urban areas and 150,000 for rural areas. The Department of Transportation will use four key criteria for evaluating grant applications on the basis of their merits. These four weighted criteria are a projects effectiveness, an areas need for services, the degree of local coordination, and the projects financial sustainability. The Department will assess each grant application and assign points on the basis of these criteria, as well as bonus points for program components such as particularly innovative transportation approaches. Whether these criteria will enable the Department to make sufficient distinctions among the many applications it expects to receive is unclear. Accordingly, the Department may use other factors, such as geographic distribution, to make the final grant selections. While using these factors may provide the Department with the means to break ties among projects of comparable merit, it may unintentionally suggest that the merit-based criteria used to develop and score the applications are less important than other factors that are not based on merit.
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