The US secretary of transportation and the ranking member of the senate committee on commerce, science, and transportation had asked the Office of Inspector General to carry out the audit into the grant review and selection processes for the Florida International University pedestrian bridge project. The bridge collapsed in March, killing six people.
The request for the audit arose as the project was partially funded by a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (Tiger) discretionary grant. Transportation secretary Elaine Chao asked the auditors to evaluate whether it complied with federal requirements and specifications. In addition, senator Bill Nelson asked for a review of the implementation and oversight roles of the parties to the Tiger agreement.
The initial audit has assessed whether the FIU project met federal and Department of Transportation requirements for the Tiger application, selection and grant agreement processes in place when the project began. Future work will address post-award oversight roles and responsibilities.
“We did not find any evidence connecting the Office of the Secretary of Transportation’s (OST) review and selection of the FIU project grant application in 2013 to the pedestrian bridge collapse in 2018,” said the report. “Decisions on the bridge’s design and construction were made after the grant was selected. However, we did observe documentation shortfalls in the review and selection processes.” Specifically, OST’s documentation of its decisions did not address all the factors included in the guidelines. In addition, OST did not document its justification for changing the FIU project’s technical evaluation rating from recommended to highly recommended. There was also a reduction in funding for the FIU project, but without full details documented.