Complaint to the
Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity & Efficiency
Re: Department of Transportation (DOT) and Office of Inspector General (OIG) deficiencies in oversight of federal transportation funding.
The Entrance to Aspen Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), completed in 1997, was created by extracting one small section of Colorado State Highway 82 from a larger and more complete EIS process (East of Basalt to Aspen EIS), despite electoral support for the “preferred alternative” developed in the original document. Subsequent to the completion of this heavily manipulated second EIS process (responsive solely to elected officials of the City of Aspen), public support for the newly selected alternative evaporated, and the state removed the project from priority funding status.
In late 2001, contact was made with the Colorado Division of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to learn what options existed to restore the highway improvement project to active status, on the assumption that this outcome would only be possible with the adoption of a new preferred alternative and revised Record of Decision (ROD).
Over a nine year period from 2001 to the present, responses from various federal agencies ranging from the FHWA to the Department of Transportation and its Office of Inspector General, and including the Government Accountability Office (GAO), have been evasive and unresponsive with a consistency that can only result from systemic institutional failure.
Early in the discussion with the FHWA, this author was directed to the section of the Final EIS (FEIS) which contained the core information on which the selection process had been based. Significant falsities of data and assumption appeared to have been purposely created to support a predetermined political preference, in direct violation of federal guidelines and regulations.
For example, the highway expansion alternative which had been politically targeted for elimination suffered from erroneous and exaggerated projections for growth in “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (VMT), a problem revealed by a very simple math check. Conversely, the predicted outcome of building a politically blessed mass transit system (as the substitute for adequate highway capacity) was that there would be a reduction in traffic growth on a scale never achieved anywhere else.
The FEIS authors then claimed that the artificially low VMT estimates for the preferred mass transit alternative would be adopted as the air quality conformity standard under a completely separate EPA process. Thus the selection process wasn’t simply prejudiced to achieve a predetermined outcome; it was distorted to make it appear that only the chosen alternative could be legally built under federal air quality requirements.
On November 14, 2002, a conference call was held between the undersigned and several officials of the FHWA and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), and at that time these officials were made aware that the air quality conformity assumptions of the FEIS were false. This was easily demonstrated by simply comparing those assumptions with the actual emissions budget established under the PM10 Redesignation Request and Maintenance Plan for the Aspen Area (Adopted by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, January 11, 2001).
The conference call participants from FHWA were:
Ron Speral - Program Engineer
Edrie Vinson - Environmental Program Manager
Monica Pavlik - Environmental Engineer
Eva LaDow - Operations Engineer
William Haas - Air Quality Specialist and Metropolitan Planner
Jeff Houk - Air Quality Specialist
Joseph Elsen - Region 3 Acting Program Engineer
Tamara Smith - Region 3 Planning and Environmental Program Manager
Conference participants were also advised of the math error in the VMT estimate for the highway expansion alternative, and the conversation ended with an agreement for a second conference call after the information was reviewed. Instead, I was notified by phone by Ron Speral that no further action would be taken - because CDOT had informed the FHWA that there was no funding available for the project in the near future.
Thus, CDOT proposed that a project which had been removed from state funding priority due to a lack of public support should be prevented from being revised to a publicly acceptable alternative until such time as funding was restored to the rejected alternative.
I requested and received the name of a contact person (Lamar Smith, NEPA Team Leader) at the Washington DC office of the FHWA who would, according to the Colorado Division, have the authority to review and possibly reverse their decision not to act. Fred Skaer, Director, Office of Project Development and Environmental Review for the FHWA, responded to my letter to Smith by first consulting with the Colorado Division, and then repeating their decision back to me. Letters to officials above Mr. Skaer were routed back to him, so that all avenues to pursue the matter within the FHWA in Washington ended at his office.
The final accommodation from Mr. Skaer was that "...the FHWA has agreed to consider your concerns in the context of a re-evaluation (23 CFR 771.129(b)) at such time as CDOT is prepared to move forward with the State Highway 82 Entrance to Aspen Project." Fred Skaer - July 22, 2005.
The expectation by CDOT and the FHWA that there would be no occasion for a reevaluation was negated by a 110 year old bridge within the study area which began to experience irreparable structural problems. Replacement of the bridge necessitated the resumption of the federal funding process, and a written reevaluation of the Entrance to Aspen FEIS and Record of Decision was begun in 2006.
The Reevaluation of the State Highway 82/Entrance to Aspen Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision, and Technical Reports Volume, April 2007, Project No. CC-0821-080 was prepared by CDOT. Joseph Elsen, the acting program engineer who had participated in the 2002 conference call regarding the erroneous information in the FEIS, was the Program Engineer who administered the reevaluation.
In direct contravention of U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) reevaluation guidelines that “The entire project should be revisited to assess any changes that have occurred and their effect on the adequacy of the final EIS,” and, “It [the reevaluation] should focus on the changes in the project, its surroundings and impacts, and any new issues identified since the final EIS was approved,” (Emphasis added) CDOT and Joseph Elsen refused to acknowledge or repair the faulty information used during the selection of the preferred alternative. They instead created a custom set of guidelines for the reevaluation - so that the false information which had improperly affected the comparative process would be excluded from review.
An extensive protest was filed October 6, 2006, with David A. Nicol, FHWA Colorado Division Administrator, detailing a full range of failings in the transportation funding process to that date, reminding him of the prior assurance from Fred Skaer that certain of those issues would be considered in the “context of a re-evaluation”, and requesting his intervention in the inadequate reevaluation process. No response was ever received from Mr. Nicol, and there was no further means to pursue the matter with CDOT or the Colorado Division of the FHWA.
Response of the Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General
The initial reply from Fred Skaer at the FHWA in DC was so similar to the evasion used by the Colorado Division that I had opened a second line of communication with the online GAO FraudNET service on May 16, 2003, and reported to them that there was “evidence of mismanagement and abuse (and perhaps outright fraud) in a federally mandated EIS process.” According to an email response dated July 7, 2003, “the situation you describe is not within the scope of any ongoing GAO work. Therefore, in accordance with the GAO FraudNET's policy to forward instances of suspected wrongdoing to executive branch agencies for appropriate action, we referred your concerns to the Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General (DOT/OIG) for their review and response to us.” “We have assigned control number 44342 to this matter and request that you cite this number in any future contact with our office.”
Absolutely no contact of any sort was ever made with me by the DOT OIG in response to the GAO referral.
With the assistance of Congressman Scott McInnis and his successor John T. Salazar, I was able to obtain an interview with DOT OIG Special Agent Joe O’Haver on November 3, 2005.
During the intervening four years since contact was first made with the FHWA in 2001 and the time of the interview, the scope of the Entrance to Aspen mass transit proposal had expanded dramatically. While initially intended as a four mile long Light Rail Transit (LRT) line, the planning area had been extended by forty miles to accommodate a system intended to serve the entire length of the Roaring Fork Valley between Aspen and the town of Glenwood Springs.
In anticipation of the need for federal funding, a Corridor Investment Study (CIS) (Citizen Comment) had been completed, and this document was the original source of a proposal to build a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system as a first phase prior to the eventual construction of the light rail project.
Like the Entrance to Aspen EIS process which had preceded it, the CIS professed to be concerned with current and future highway traffic congestion. However, in contrast to the FEIS, the new study did not bother to discredit a highway expansion alternative with exaggerated traffic projections. Instead, the option to accommodate “automobiles on new lanes” was included on the same scoping list as “jet packs”, “dog sleds”, and “automobiles on flatbed trucks”. These options were then treated equally by dismissing them all with no further comment. By eliminating increased highway capacity as a legitimate alternative, the study avoided making any meaningful comparative analyses. The CIS was structured so that it effectively compared three slight variations of the same bus system to a light rail alternative - which also included elements of that same bus system.
The CIS documented existing congestion at 19 locations along the Highway 82 corridor, and then provided projections of future conditions. After capital expenditures of either $102 million for BRT, or $307 million for LRT, the study predicted better conditions than would occur with the “No Action” base case at only one location. This apparent exercise in futility for the “Build” options had no impact on the trajectory of transportation planning in the area, in part due to the complete absence of any public attention being directed to these findings by any responsible party, either among private contractors, media, or government officials.
Projections for expected ridership for the BRT and/or LRT system were indecipherable in the CIS itself, and could only be determined after a series of emails were exchanged with Roger Millar, CIS Project Manager, of the firm Otak, Inc. The projections were designed to substantiate the need for a huge expansion of mass transit services without providing any clear points of comparison with existing conditions. Any such comparison reveals the obvious exaggeration of these projections and the impossibility of achieving them.
I began the interview with DOT OIG Special Agent O’Haver by pointing out that I was not in a whistleblower position. Since I had never worked for the consultants or the local government officials in charge of transportation planning, there was no instance where I could provide firsthand accounts of meetings or discussions where data was manipulated to support the plan. However, as a circumstantial indicator, there would need to be extraordinary instances of incompetence and malfeasance if the information provided in the FEIS, and subsequent CIS, came from innocent error.
Agent O’Haver had no difficulty recognizing the spurious quality of the core data used to legitimize the findings of the Entrance to Aspen FEIS and Corridor Investment Study, and left our meeting with assurances that the information would be forwarded to the appropriate OIG official in Washington DC.
During the year in which I waited for a response from the DOT OIG, the CDOT action discussed above occurred. The Program Engineer refused to honor the prior commitment of the FHWA to investigate the false data in the FEIS as part of the reevaluation, and I reported that fact to David Brooks, a contact I had been provided at the OIG.
The futility of all communication with the DOT OIG was stunningly illustrated in their “final response” letter of November 9, 2006, from Charles H. Lee Jr., Assistant Inspector General for Investigations. In his “Analysis and Conclusion”, Mr. Lee asserted that “regulatory avenues exist for you to pursue this issue, including providing comment to CDOT during its re-evaluation of the 1998 ROD and contacting FHWA at such time as the project is identified for federal funds,” despite the fact that the OIG had been informed that this very “avenue” had been blocked four months earlier.
The Lee letter also states:
"In determining whether to conduct an investigation, we must examine what specific evidence exists in support of your claim that the EIS and ROD contain 'falsehoods'. However, your letters to us provided no evidence of intentional misrepresentation by CDOT or FHWA officials. Further, on November 3, 2005, one of our special agents interviewed you. In this interview, you confirmed you have no evidence that these officials intentionally falsified the EIS and ROD. Thus, we do not have an investigative predicate for your assertion of fraud involving this project."
The inference that the presence of “falsehoods” would necessarily be dependent on “evidence of intentional misrepresentation” violates basic logic. Regardless, any third party reviewing the Lee letter would conclude that I had made an accusation of fraud that I could not support, and that my irresponsible allegations had been summarily dispatched.
A brief refresher on the context of my complaint is that I had contacted the GAO FraudNET online resource, which asks for reports of “fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement of federal funds”; that my original email to FraudNET was titled “Waste, abuse, and possible fraud in an EIS process”; and that during that interview with a special agent from the OIG I noted that the best evidence of fraud was the extraordinary level of incompetence and mismanagement that would be necessary for there to be any other explanation for the inaccuracies and falsehoods contained in at least two major transportation planning documents.
And what of the potential for waste, abuse, and mismanagement of federal funds which would not be dependent on “evidence that these officials intentionally falsified the EIS and ROD”? According to Charles H. Lee Jr., “generally, we are not in the position to review for accuracy the EIS and ROD of a specific transportation project”.
Aside from an admission that the DOT OIG is apparently incapable of long division or the reading skill necessary to compare two moderately technical documents – all that is required to find inaccuracies of major significance in the FEIS – Lee appeared to claim that only matters of fraud are within the purview of his office:
“We accepted your letter for review because of our office's jurisdiction to investigate allegations of fraud in federally-funded transportation projects.”
If waste and abuse and mismanagement are not within the jurisdiction of the OIG, there is a question as to why the matter would have been referred to that authority by the GAO, but the one year time frame the OIG took to respond, and additional material in the Lee letter, does not support the idea of any such limitation.
From a section of the Lee letter titled “Background”:
“In April 2006, CDOT initiated a re-evaluation of the 1998 ROD to determine if it was still valid. You have corresponded with CDOT about this matter, and CDOT has indicated that this re-evaluation will not consider options outside of the 1998 ROD unless it determines that the ROD is no longer valid. CDOT anticipates that the re-evaluation may be complete as early as this month.”
(1) The second sentence is a non-sequitur designed to create a false association. No correspondence from me has ever suggested that CDOT should consider options outside of the 1998 ROD. Neither would it be relevant to the issues brought to the attention of the OIG if I had.
(2) Sentence three is an example of the internal incoherence of the Lee letter. Even if the OIG had not already been informed that public comment had been barred from the reevaluation, there is no way to reconcile Mr. Lee’s knowledge of the process and its impending completion and his contradictory assurance that “avenues exist for you to pursue this issue, including providing comment to CDOT during its re-evaluation”.
“Additionally, on July 7, 2006, you filed a motion for a ballot initiative with the Pitkin County District Court to allow the voters to inform their elected officials of their wishes regarding the highway project. The court has not yet ruled on this motion.”
(1) Nothing in this paragraph is relevant to the responsibility of the federal government to insure the integrity of the procedures and processes necessary to qualify for federal funding. The EIS process is established to provide decision makers, including the public, with accurate assessments of the environmental impacts of different alternatives. There is an additional dimension to the Entrance to Aspen project regarding the need to obtain voter approval for any change in use of property originally acquired for open space. There is no reason why this factor should be of any interest or concern to the OIG, or why mention of it appears in this letter, except to divert attention away from the responsibilities of the OIG.
“Like the Friends of Marolt Park, you have expressed a desire for the FHWA to re-evaluate the Entrance-to-Aspen EIS. You informed us that your purpose in a re-evaluation is for FHWA to consider options beyond those identified in the 1998 ROD. Specifically, you have expressed that your goal is to persuade CDOT to build HOV lanes into Aspen at least as far as the intersection of Seventh Street and to eventually open the HOV lanes to general traffic.”
(1) There is no known relevance for the statement in sentence one, especially in light of the fact that a reevaluation was already in progress.
(2) Sentence two is completely false. Neither the OIG nor anyone else has ever been “informed” that I was asking the FHWA to “consider options beyond those identified in the 1998 ROD”. My purpose in every contact with federal officials has been to correct false information which influenced the comparative evaluation of options which were identified in the 1998 ROD.
(3) The first half of sentence three is generally correct, but the second half is completely false. I have no interest in trying to “eventually open the HOV lanes to general traffic” and have never expressed any such interest to anyone. As in the preceding paragraphs (and even if this was an accurate statement of my eventual goal), any claim regarding my activities or intentions is irrelevant to the core responsibility of the federal government and the OIG to insure the integrity and accuracy of the transportation funding process.
If there was no “investigative predicate” to examine the possibility of fraud, and the OIG is “not in the position to review for accuracy the EIS and ROD of a specific transportation project” it would seem that “in determining whether to conduct an investigation” the conclusion was reached that there would be no investigation. Certainly in regard to false information contained in the FEIS and CIS that was the case, but for some indefensible reason there was a predicate to examine me, my interests, and my intentions.
The arrival of the Lee letter signaled to me that I had finally exhausted all possibility of redress within the Department of Transportation, and could return to the GAO with proof of that outcome. My goal was to be in a position where they could not simply refer me back to the same agency.
Charles H. Lee Jr. was contacted within the week by telephone so that I could request a copy of the report provided to his office by Special Agent O’Haver in 2005, and obtain the name of the person at the GAO who had received a copy of his “final response” letter. I was informed that Mr. Lee would not speak to me, and that any such request would have to be made in writing. Based on my perception of an adversarial atmosphere, I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for this information on December 24, 2006.
Twenty seven months later I was informed by the OIG FOIA officer that the file had been “inadvertently misplaced and cannot be retrieved”.
I filed a protest within days, and in April of 2010 the file was finally delivered with 4 of 146 pages “redacted or withheld pursuant to exemptions provided by the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(5), (6) and (7)(C)).
Contained in the file is a five page document titled “Interview of Jeffrey Evans” (04-IH-112-I000), and dated 11/14/05. The preparer’s name is redacted, but based on the date it could be reasonably assumed that this is a report written by Special Agent Joe O’Haver regarding our meeting of November 3, 2005. The document has the identical error described above regarding my interest in eventually removing HOV designation, and may be the source of that misperception.
The record of the interview recounts general information I provided regarding past votes and studies, and that portion is somewhat accurate. However, it is nearly inconceivable that the key components of this document were written by the same person with whom I spoke. Joe O’Haver and I spent more than two hours covering in great detail the specific pages of the FEIS and CIS which contained false information, assumptions, and conclusions, and discussing how the problems with that information could be corroborated.
In contrast, the OIG record of the interview states that, “EVANS contends that information contained in the EIS was falsified, however, he is unable to state clearly which information was falsified or for what purpose.” This statement is not credible in the extreme. The OIG file also contains copies of letters in which I have supplied this exact information, an example of which is a six page letter, plus two pages of footnotes and an enclosure of pages copied from the FEIS, which was sent to Lamar Smith (Link 1) on March 10, 2003. I did not suffer from amnesia prior to the interview in 2005.
Whoever decided to claim that I was “unable to state clearly which information was falsified or for what purpose,” either did not have access to the complete OIG file, or did not take the time to read it. In any event, it is a very obvious and clumsy attempt to discredit a private citizen.
After the interview had been largely concluded, O’Haver and I had a less formal discussion in which I speculated on reasons why experts in the field would produce such obviously flawed data. I expressed my concern that professionals involved in the transportation planning process, both public employees and private consultants, were essentially left to themselves without any knowledgeable oversight, and that their personal/career interests were clearly on the side of convincing the public to embark on ever more complex and expensive mass transit projects. In April of 2004, I had expressed a similar observation in a letter to Inspector General Kenneth Mead:
“On numerous occasions during the Entrance to Aspen process, participants were told that cost is not a factor which is considered in the evaluation of EIS alternatives. In addition, it became obvious that transportation planners, vendors, and consultants have a significant advantage over the general public in their understanding of how the process works, and ways to determine its outcome. The combination of these elements provides an obvious opportunity for significant abuse. The transformation of a $60 million two mile highway project into a 42 mile half billion dollar light rail project, along a corridor populated by only 50 to 60 thousand residents, should be sufficiently dramatic in just dollar terms to warrant your immediate attention.”
The version of these concerns which appears in the interview report is that, “EVANS believes that the entire process is part of a much larger conspiracy he sees as prevalent in every major construction program nationwide.” Nearly another half page is devoted to similar characterizations of what “EVANS believes” regarding this “conspiracy”.
The interview report acknowledges that I had provided “correspondence and other documents” and a compact disk containing a copy of the CIS. Despite the overwhelming proportion of material physically provided and verbally conveyed, and in stark contrast to the preoccupation with my purported conspiracy theories, the report does not contain a single mention or example of any of the factual information pertaining to the FEIS or CIS that I provided to the DOT OIG. As previously noted, the preparer’s name is redacted, but the version of the interview conducted by Special Agent Joe O’Haver which the OIG has on file is a document “digitally signed” by Joseph M. Zschiesche.
Current status of Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) federal funding
The failure of the OIG in 2006 to exercise their power to order corrective action by the FHWA has had significant further consequnce. The BRT project has proceeded on the expectation of further federal funding, but both that and positive public perception are owed to the absence of any authoritative notice that much of the information that supports the project is wrong.
Funding requests have shifted to the Federal Transit Authority (FTA). This agency has agreed to designate the BRT plan as a “Very Small Start”, and a grant request is currently in process under the standards for that program.
The decreased scrutiny afforded a Very Small Start has allowed the Corridor Investment Study of 2003 to be provided as the Alternatives Analysis for the BRT project. It has escaped the notice of federal officials that the CIS did not analize any alternatives.
The definition of “very small” for the purposes of the FTA grant process is governed by the July 2007 Updated Interim Guidance on Small Starts. The project must have a total capital cost less than $50 million, and applicants are specifically barred from breaking projects into phases for the purpose of staying under that cap.
In 2003, BRT capital costs were estimated at $102 million by 2008. More recent estimates have placed the total cost in a range of $180 to $190 million. RFTA split their BRT proposal into phases, so that Phase One will require about $50 million in capital costs, in direct contravention of program criteria.
Another standard of smallness is that “The additional operating and maintenance costs of the project are less than 5% of the agency’s operating budget.” The operating and maintenance costs for BRT Phase One are projected to increase the agency’s annual operating budget by about 50%.
These violations of the most basic criteria of the grant program were protested to the FTA during the public comment period (Link 2), and a specific explanation for the acceptance of the project as a Very Small Start was separately requested from the FTA official in charge. The non-responsive reply from FTA Region VIII Regional Administrator Terry J. Rosapep:
“The FTA appreciates your comments, and further encourages you to continue to voice your concerns locally as the RFTA BRT project continues through the public participation process. At this time, the FTA reaffirms the determination to approve and to proceed with the RFTA BRT based on the criteria established in the July 2007 Updated Interim Guidance on Small Starts.”
Citing the same regulations which are being violated as the authority for a decision may be a new standard in bureaucratic arrogance, but in the context of the history of this project it is not surprising.
Except as discussed below, this latest example of abuse and mismanagement on the part of the FTA has not been brought directly to the attention of the DOT OIG, due to the expectation that no action would be taken.
Current status of efforts to engage adequate oversight
Although it had been my preference to resume the conversation with the GAO after obtaining the OIG file containing whatever material had been produced subsequent to my interview with Joe O’Haver, the extreme delay led to a decision in August of 2009 to simultaneously contact Katherine A. Siggerud and FraudNET. Siggerud referred me to Valerie T. Blyther as the person who handles “inquiries about GAO's responses to FraudNET allegations.”
The simple claim on the part of the DOT OIG that a problem referred to it by the GAO could not be evaluated because “generally, we are not in the position to review for accuracy the EIS and ROD of a specific transportation project” would seem to indicate a much larger institutional problem. However, any thought that this larger problem is exactly the sort of issue the GAO was created to deal with was squelched by Ms. Blyther, whose email informed me that:
“GAO is responsible for assisting the Congress in carrying out its oversight responsibilities pertaining to government programs, activities and functions. Generally, this involves examining the programs and operations of federal departments and agencies, rather than reviewing singular allegations of wrongdoing or poor performance in connection with specific matters,” (Emphasis added) and “We cannot be of any further assistance to you.”
However, symptoms of widespread wrongdoing or poor performance in a program or agency are often first revealed in a specific instance. If neither the OIG nor the GAO investigates specific projects or “matters”, the likelihood that deficiencies in a department or program will be uncovered is greatly diminished. Add layers of institutional complacency and a natural human tendency to avoid responsibility and it is difficult to imagine under what circumstances either a specific problem or an agency-wide flaw is ever confronted and resolved.
Based on my experience, I prepared a report in 2009 intended for local officials and State of Colorado legislators to alert them to the need to protect their constituents from the complete collapse of federal oversight of transportation funding: Failure of NEPA Process Oversight - Colorado State Highway 82 - East of Basalt to Aspen EIS - A Case Study. As part of my August 2009 resumption of contact with FraudNET I included a link to an online copy of this report. (Link 3) According to Valerie Blyther:
“On September 15, 2009 we received your recent allegation alleging lack of federal oversight within the State Transportation Projects at the Department of Transportation in Colorado. This matter was reviewed and it was determined that a new file should be opened since your allegations were different from the allegation you filed May 16, 2003.”
This new matter was assigned the control number 54486, and “referred to the Office of the Inspector, Department of Transportation (DOT/OIG)”. In addition to my being taken for another ride on the OIG merry-go-round, Blyther suggested that “If you don't agree with the findings of the IG investigation, it is suggested that you contact the Integrity Committee who investigates IG offices.”
The involvement of the Integrity Committee in this matter might well be warranted in regard to the actions (or inactions) of certain staff at the OIG pursuant to the issues referred to them under GAO control number 44342. As a private citizen for whom considerable amounts of time and effort have thus far been wasted, there would be some small satisfaction in a recommendation of disciplinary action from the Integrity Committee. However, this would not resolve any of the actual and immediate problems, and it is not clear whether the Integrity Committee has the tools necessary to initiate a remedial course on the part of the FHWA or FTA.
It does appear that the full Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity & Efficiency has the requisite charge to affect a new outcome by other agencies pursuant to the Inspector General Reform Act of 2008, Public Law 110-409, Oct. 14, 2008, and that their active monitoring of, and involvement in, this new and ongoing inquiry (GAO 54486) at the DOT OIG would be both appropriate and productive.
Owing to the intended audience - state and local officials - for the Failure of NEPA Process Oversight report, it contains a considerable quantity of material which would not be of interest or relevance to the DOT OIG. Though it contains the most significant information discussed here, the prospect seems remote that anyone at the OIG will independently discern those major portions of the report which should be of direct and immediate concern to federal regulators.
The DOT OIG may need your assistance to focus their attention.
Specific to the problems in the Roaring Fork Valley:
(1) The FTA should be required by the OIG to either produce a credible explanation for the exemption of the BRT project from the Very Small Starts program criteria - or remove it from consideration.
(2) The FHWA should notify CDOT that the reevaluation completed in 2007 does not satisfy minimum standards of review, and that it or any subsequent process must address any faulty data which has the potential to prejudice the comparative analysis of alternatives identified in the FEIS and ROD.
(3) The CIS should be barred from any use whatsoever in federal funding processes.
As simple and obvious as these steps are, the fact that a need exists to cause the FHWA and FTA to take them indicates much deeper problems in both agencies. If the DOT OIG needs the direction of the Council of the Inspectors General to finally exercise its authority to require such actions, in this or any other case, we have a crisis in the effective prevention of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in federal transportation funding.