Fall 2009 Course Description

Policy research project

Section Title: Measuring the Economic Impacts of the Obama Administration's Fiscal Stimulus Prgm on US Transportation Investments
Instructor(s): Leigh Boske
Course: P A 680PA - Policy research project
Unique Number: 62923
Day & Time: Thursdays, 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Room: SRH 3.355
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information

Description: The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), commonly termed the “Fiscal Stimulus,” provides state departments of transportation (DOTs) and federal land agencies with $27.5 billion for highway infrastructure investment. The call from President Obama for “transparency, public accountability, and economic impact” on how these funds are being spent requires a new reporting system to complement those currently in place. Simply put, DOTs must now report on a monthly basis a variety of information—such as number of employees, job types, and payroll data—on all companies involved in the design and construction of ARRA-funded highway infrastructure to the Financial Management Information System (FMIS). The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will then use this information to report periodically to the Congress. This information also will appear on a public website, updated quarterly.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has been allocated $2.5 billion, of which $500 million already has been earmarked to approximately130 projects throughout the state. The initial letting process will take place on April 22, with more to come.

The PRP will be engaged in the following activities on behalf on TxDOT:

  1. Conduct a review of the ARRA, since it is still in a formative stage;
  2. Acquire a thorough understanding of the FHWA reporting process;
  3. Evaluate the strengths/weaknesses of available transportation economic impact models;
  4. Contact other state DOTs to ascertain the types of models they have adopted to gauge their economic impacts and the types of data collected for those models (in addition to what is required by the FHWA);
  5. Compare other state DOT approaches with those being adopted by TxDOT; and
  6. Recommend improvements or enhancements to the Texas model.

We anticipate inviting several guest speakers at the beginning of the academic year to discuss the policy and technical implications of our project.

Student travel may be needed to visit state DOTs, or one or more federal agencies in Washington, D.C.

This PRP should appeal to those interested in transportation, economic impact methods, and fiscal stimulus programs.

Return to Fall 2009 Course Schedule