FTA is responsible for conducting oversight activities to ensure that recipients of grants use the funds in a manner consistent with their intended purpose and in compliance with regulatory and statutory requirements. A number of oversight review programs exist to accomplish this goal.
The Office of Program Oversight develops and implements a comprehensive national oversight program to ensure that funding recipients remain compliant with the requirements of FTA’s assistance programs. To foster stewardship of federal funds, the office institutes oversight performance metrics, analyzes nationwide recipient compliance trends, and develops and implements technical assistance and training tools and events based on grantee oversight trend analysis.
On April 20, 2021, FTA published a Dear Colleague letter outlining its oversight approach for the nearly $70 billion in federal funding FTA currently provides to support the transit industry’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Oversight is one of the most critical functions FTA performs. Protecting the integrity of federal COVID-19 relief funding is both necessary and beneficial for FTA, the transit industry, and the public. FTA is supplementing its normal oversight reviews, conducting new financial spot reviews, and providing additional technical assistance focusing on the use of COVID-19 relief funds.
- Recipient Information Request Webinars
- Key Procurement Deficiencies Webinars
- Calculating, Documenting, and Charging Operating Expenses Webinars
The largest of the FTA funding programs is the Urbanized Area Formula Grant program, which represents approximately 36 percent of all grant funds awarded by FTA each year. This grant program is authorized under federal public transportation law (49 U.S.C. § 5307) to provide funding to transit providers in urbanized areas. FTA conducts oversight reviews of these grantees at least once every three years; hence the name Triennial Review.
In Fiscal Year 2013, the Triennial Review was redesigned to emphasize a more proactive, forward-looking approach to improve FTA’s ability to rapidly address areas of concern to help grantees anticipate and address problems at an early stage. Enhanced Review Modules have been implemented for Triennial Review areas that have the highest risk of non-compliance coupled with the potential of serious consequences. By addressing these areas in greater depth during the Triennial Review, it decreases the need for multiple reviews of a grantee within a fiscal year. Enhanced Review Modules may be performed in eight areas:
- Technical Capacity
- Financial Capacity
- Financial Management
- Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
- Americans with Disabilities Act
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act
State Management Review
The State Management Review assesses state management practices and program implementation of several formula grants. The reviews are conducted every three years and encompass 17 areas of compliance, including grant administration, procurement, and civil rights.
Procurement System Review
The Procurement System Review examines 57 elements to determine if FTA grantees meet FTA procurement requirements and to identify corrective actions, if needed. In addition to helping evaluate grantees, the review gives FTA an opportunity to provide information to grantees on the latest FTA procurement requirements.
Financial Management Oversight Review
FTA requires assurance that recipients have sound financial management systems and adequate internal controls to manage federal funds. Financial Management Oversight Reviews examine a grant recipient’s financial management system’s ability to meet the criteria of 2 CFR Part 200 and determine if the recipient’s financial system is adequate to support the statutory and administrative requirements.
FTA's Office of Program Oversight
Hope Jensen, Director
Hope Jensen serves as Director of FTA’s Office of Program Oversight in the Office of Transit Safety & Oversight. Her office manages many of the agency's oversight review program including state management, financial management, procurement system, and triennial reviews of FTA funding recipients. Prior to joining the FTA in 2014, Ms. Jensen had a 30-year career in Minnesota State government, where she served most recently as Associate Legal Counsel in the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (McDOT) Office of Chief Counsel, supporting the Construction Office, Design Build program and managing Contractor Suspension and Debarment. Her career in Minnesota government includes: MnDOT’s Director of Civil Rights Office, Chief of Staff for the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit Project; Administrative Rules Writer; Department of Public Safety’s Legislative Liaison; and Hearing Examiner. Her career began in the Minnesota House of Representatives as assistant house journal editor. Ms. Jensen is an attorney and a member of the Minnesota Bar. She began her legal career as a law clerk for the Minnesota Supreme Court.