The Federal Highway Administration's decision to withdraw from a Truck and Bus Safety Summit last December may wind up costing taxpayers almost $100,000.
The DOT inspector general reports that as of the end of 1998, FHWA had incurred costs of $96,170 for the summit. So far it has paid out $31,792. The agency is negotiating terms with vendors on the $64,379 balance.
The summit and forum, scheduled for Dec. 6-10 in Atlanta, had been planned for about a year. FHWA's abrupt withdrawal at the last minute created anger and consternation within the safety community — particularly among those who had set their schedules and booked flights and rooms.
FHWA's excuse for backing out was that the summit had not attracted broad enough representation from transportation groups. News reports at the time indicated that this was a response to complaints from an anti-truck group that the Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety had not given it the role it wanted in the summit.
FHWA might have been liable for an additional $129,632 in damages to the Ritz Carlton Hotel, but the hotel has dropped the claim, the IG report says. It also takes OMCHS to task for not following proper contracting procedures in making arrangements for the summit.