IG to investigate traffic data program, contract

The Transportation Department’s inspector general will evaluate the Transportation Technology Innovation and Demonstration Program to determine if it has built a traffic measurement infrastructure with revenue-generating initiatives as planned, and whether the agency followed subsequent competitive procurement requirements.

The Federal Highway Administration developed the program in 1998 to ease traffic congestion in major cities by deploying a transportation surveillance infrastructure and providing traffic data from sensors through a contract with Traffic.com. The program also helps state and local government transportation agencies pay for the traffic data. The sensor information is also available to the public to assist highway users.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) requested the audit, which will start immediately, the IG said in its announcement Jan. 29.

In his request letter to the IG in September, Hatch said DOT has funneled all the work to one company, Traffic.com, resulting in a monopoly. He amended the program under the 2005 Transportation authorization, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users so that later contracts would be awarded on a competitive basis in other cities. That hasn’t occurred yet, he said.

The response to letters he wrote last January and May to DOT Secretary Mary Peters about his concerns was inadequate, he said.

“The administration of the program has resulted in a monopoly on program funding for the benefit of a single private-sector entity,” he said in the letter to the IG.

The Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit group, also is in favor of more competition. DOT told the group it was required to complete the first phase of the contract for traffic data in 25 cities with Traffic.com. Congress has not provided additional funding for the second phase of the contract, which will open the competition for traffic data in subsequent cities, said Richard Capka, Federal Highway administrator, in a December letter.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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