USDOT Spent Record $114 Billion in FY 2022

USDOT Spent Record $114 Billion in FY 2022

October 28, 2022  | Jeff Davis

The final Monthly Treasury Statement for fiscal year 2022 revealed that the U.S. Department of Transportation spent a net $113.7 billion in fiscal year 2022, an all-time high.

But the aggregated nature of the reporting in the MTS (most accounts within a modal administration lumped together into one line) makes it difficult to see just how much of that spending is for programs on the rise (those boosted by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) versus those on the wane (the temporary COVID aid programs).

By the end of next month, we should have the Combined Statement online that shows every budget account, to the penny, and the annual additions to, and subtractions from, the balances on each account. But even then, it will be difficult, since the COVID aid for mass transit and the supplementary IIJA funding for mass transit capital both have the same account name, “Transit Infrastructure Grants,” so the amounts will be combined for most public reporting.

The reporting in the MTS was outlays – the cash going out the door to liquidate, or pay off, an obligation like a work week completed, a purchase delivered, or a contract fulfilled. Since those outlays can lag the spending decisions made by Congress and the Administration by weeks, months, or years, it is pretty clear that most of the high-water-mark spending for 2023 was COVID, not IIJA.

Here are the outlay totals for every USDOT mode for the last five fiscal years, in millions of dollars.

FY 2018 FY 2019 FY 2020 FY 2021 FY 2022
FAA 15,999 16,670 20,362 23,022 23,071
FHWA 45,064 45,712 48,742 47,618 50,138
FMCSA 581 584 618 567 703
NHTSA 1,013 1,028 970 1,082 1,113
FRA 2,450 2,340 3,385 5,122 2,760
FTA 12,783 13,369 25,373 24,370 34,077
MARAD 509 553 667 926 739
OST 926 804 1,130 2,455 2,324
Other 316 399 414 416 323
PHMSA Fees -137 -146 -145 -145 -156
FCRA Re-Score -1,010 -598 -1,174 -497 -1,363
Total, DOT 78,494 80,715 100,342 104,936 113,729

The Federal Transit Administration spent $34.1 billion in 2022, almost three times its annual budget five years ago, and that is largely COVID-based. The interesting thing is that the FY 2022 COVID spending was so much higher than the FY 2020 or 2021 COVID spending, since it was 2020 and 2021 that had the peak ridership drop.

The fact that transit agencies banked so much of their COVID aid was specifically called out by the Treasury Secretary and the OMB Director in their annual joint statement on the budget results: “Outlays for the Department of Transportation were $113.7 billion, $9.2 billion lower than the MSR estimate. More than half of this difference was due to slower-than-expected spending of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) COVID supplemental funding for a variety of reasons, including supply chain disruptions and labor force shortages that impacted local transit agencies’ ability to spend Federal funds. ”

And Federal Railroad Administration spending dropped off substantially as well. FRA funding includes the Amtrak budget, and since Amtrak is, technically, not part of the federal government, its grants tend to “spend out” for budget purposes the minute they get their annual grants approved. (The money sits on Amtrak’s books for years until actually spent by Amtrak. It doesn’t sit on Uncle Sam’s books waiting for Amtrak to spend it.)

But this has also changed, per the Treasury-OMB statement: “The other major reason for the difference was that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Amtrak agreed to a new payment method for Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act supplemental funds, under which FRA will outlay quarterly based on Amtrak’s estimated funding needs for the upcoming period.”

It was at the Federal Highway Administration where we got the most substantive proof that the increased IIJA funding is already hitting the streets and doing some good. At FHWA, the COVID and and some of the supplementary IIJA money is from the general fund, but most of FHWA’s funding increase under the IIJA was channeled through the Highway Trust Fund and the regular old Federal-Aid Highways Account. And that account had its biggest August ever and its second-largest September ever.

FHWA OUTLAYS BY MONTH (MILLION DOLLARS)
April May June July August September
Federal-Aid Highways
FY 2022 2,702 3,427 4,217 4,092 5,874 5,978
FY 2021 3,738 3,103 4,199 4,139 4,470 5,245
FY 2020 2,900 3,762 3,955 4,430 5,172 6,055
FY 2019 2,624 3,781 4,007 4,754 5,206 5,140
FY 2018 2,429 3,562 4,143 4,508 5,470 5,135
FY 2017 2,760 3,221 4,541 4,180 5,155 4,919
Other FHWA
FY 2022 438 482 565 476 822 660
FY 2021 558 555 430 443 325 585
FY 2020 174 224 199 172 171 214
FY 2019 93 140 101 128 290 250
FY 2018 72 129 81 87 116 529
FY 2017 51 103 108 38 64 59
TOTAL FHWA
FY 2022 3,140 3,909 4,782 4,568 6,696 6,638
FY 2021 4,296 3,658 4,629 4,582 4,795 5,830
FY 2020 3,074 3,986 4,154 4,602 5,343 6,269
FY 2019 2,717 3,921 4,108 4,882 5,496 5,390
FY 2018 2,501 3,691 4,224 4,595 5,586 5,664
FY 2017 2,811 3,324 4,649 4,218 5,219 4,978
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