Detailed Information on the
Amtrak Assessment

Program Code 10004000
Program Title Amtrak
Department Name Department of Transportation
Agency/Bureau Name Federal Railroad Administration
Program Type(s) Direct Federal Program
Assessment Year 2005
Assessment Rating Ineffective
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 30%
Strategic Planning 75%
Program Management 17%
Program Results/Accountability 16%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $1,294
FY2008 $1,355
FY2009 $900

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Work with Congress to develop legislation that better articulates the Federal policy on intercity passenger rail, including Amtrak's mission and goals.

Action taken, but not completed The political leadership of the Administration chose not to seek to have the Passenger Rail Investment Reform Act reintroduced in this Congress. Instead, the Administration will respond to Congressional legislative initiatives. FRA will work within the Administration to help develop the Administration??s position on these bills should they be successfully conferenced and presented to the President for his signature.

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Work with board of directors and the Federal Railroad Administration to increase Amtrak's accountability for its financial and operational performance

Completed Complete / Ongoing - In FY 2006 and in future grant agreements with Amtrak, various financial and operational accountability conditions and contingencies are included.

Evaluate capital projects and proposed route changes to assess the return on investment (ROI) as well as any operating impacts.

Completed Work begun - FRA will ensure that capital grant agreements with Amtrak require ROI analysis on the majority of their capital projects.

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Long-term/Annual Efficiency

Measure: Percent of Trains with a fully allocated loss per passenger-mile in excess of $0.40

Explanation:Percent of Trains with a fully allocated loss per passenger-mile in excess of $0.40

Year Target Actual
2002 Baseline 22.5%
2003 20% 14.6%
2004 15% 17.1%
2005 15% 17.0%
2006 10% 17.1%
2007 10% 12%
2008 10%
2009 10%
2010 10%
2011 10%
2012 10%
Long-term/Annual Outcome

Measure: Percent progress towards bringing Amtrak-owned equipment to a state of good repair.

Explanation:Reflects number of repair projects completed on cars, locomotives, and other equipment starting in 2002. Based on Amtrak corporate plan for returning infrastructure to a state of good repair.

Year Target Actual
2002 Baseline 4%
2003 10% 9%
2004 19% 21%
2005 34% 20%
2006 51% 19%
2007 68% discontinued
2008 83%
2009 100%
Long-term/Annual Output

Measure: Percent progress towards bringing Amtrak-owned infrastructure to a state of good repair.

Explanation:Reflects miles of rail tie and track replacement and number of other projects completed starting in 2002. Based on Amtrak corporate plan for returning instructure to state of good repair.

Year Target Actual
2002 Baseline 1%
2003 10% 11%
2004 26% 26%
2005 41% 25%
2006 56% 25%
2007 71% 33%
2008 85%
2009 100%
Long-term/Annual Outcome

Measure: Percent of trains system wide that arrive on time.

Explanation:The measure reports the percent of Amtrak's trains (of which Amtrak runs about 100,000 annually) that arrive on time. On time arrival is defined on a sliding scale of tolerances that were established by the former Interstate Commerce Commission and range from 10 minutes for runs up to 250 miles and all Acela runs, to 30 minutes for runs over 550 miles. The measure is relevant because the predictability of train service is a primary concern of rail travelers.

Year Target Actual
2002 Baseline 75.5%
2003 80% 74.1%
2004 85% 70.7%
2005 85% 69.8%
2006 85% 67.0%
2007 85% 69%
2008 85%
2010 85%
2009 85%
2011 85%
2012 85%
Long-term/Annual Outcome

Measure: Percent of Acela Express trains that arrive on time

Explanation:The measure reports the percent of Amtrak's Acela Express trains (of which there are about 9,000 annually) that arrive on time. On time arrival is defined as not more than 10 minutes late at the endpoint. The measure is relevant because the predictability of the Acela service a primary concern to the traveling public, particularly business travelers who represent a large portion of the Acela ridership.

Year Target Actual
2002 Baseline 79.3%
2003 94% 70.7%
2004 94% 74.3%
2005 94% 76.4%
2006 94% 84.0%
2007 94% 88%
2008 94%
2009 94%
2010 94%
2011 94%
2012 94%

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: Amtrak's purpose is ambiguous largely because it lacks clear legislative guidance. When it created Amtrak in 1970, Congress did not specify whether Amtrak should: 1) provide alternative transportation nationwide at any cost, 2) maximize ridership, or 3) take a business-based approach focused on minimizing losses. At the time, it was expected Amtrak would become financially independent of the government within a few years. It was established as a private corporation to be managed autonomously of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the US Government. Yet Amtrak has consistently required Federal subsidies, despite efforts at different times to limit Federal spending on the railroad. In 2006, Amtrak received $1.3 billion in federal support, equal to about 40 percent of its total budget. After 35 years, there continues to be a debate about Amtrak's purpose and mission. The DOT's oversight role has grown in recent years, though it still lacks authority to direct how Amtrak will manages its affairs and spends its funds. Through the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), DOT now reviews Amtrak's budget and approves each of its capital projects before releasing funding.

Evidence: See: The National Rail Passenger Services Act of 1970; The Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997 -- http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/arc/arcact.pdf; and DOT 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 appropriation bills for descriptions of FRA's oversight role

NO 0%

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: Amtrak carries about 25 million riders per year, indicating that rail is viable alternative to automobiles and airlines for some travelers. CBO reports the greatest potential for developing commercial passenger rail is for trips of 100 to 300 miles between large population centers. For example, on the Northeast Corridor (Washington DC-NY-Boston) congested highways and airports make Amtrak's downtown stations convenient, particularly to business travelers. Rail can also provide important redundant transportation services in the event of a crisis. The FRA grant program was implemented in 2003 to provide some oversight on Amtrak's investment decisions.

Evidence: See: CBO, "The Past and Future of U.S. Passenger Rail Service" www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=4571&sequence=0; DOT 2003, 2004, and 2005 appropriation bills

YES 15%

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any other Federal, state, local or private effort?

Explanation: There are no other providers of intercity passenger rail in the US, as ensured by statute. Amtrak owns most of the trackage along the Northeast Corridor has preferential access rights to track owned by private freight railroads. The FRA grant review process ensures that the federal dollars Amtrak receives are utilized on approved projects and are not duplicative of state, local, or private efforts.

Evidence: The National Rail Passenger Services Act of 1970 created Amtrak as the sole provider of intercity passenger rail service in the US. Amtrak was formed from multiple unprofitable passenger services shed by freight railroads.

YES 15%

Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?

Explanation: The DOT Inspector General (IG) has stated, "The current model for intercity passenger rail is broken. The reason it is broken goes beyond persistent budgetary shortfalls and extends to matters like who decides on the type and amount of service, who provides service, and who selects the providers." Amtrak's central design problems include relatively little involvement by states, the lack of a competitive rail marketplace, and Amtrak's responsibility for multiple lines of business (e.g., operating and capital), which hinders its ability to focus on running trains. Further, Amtrak maintains a set of nationwide routes, which Amtrak has not significantly changed since its creation. FRA's oversight of Amtrak is limited to approving capital projects and reviewing monthly performance reports. Amtrak is not required to follow FRA guidance concerning its spending, such as slowing capital investments to preserve cash.

Evidence: DOT IG testimony before the House Appropriations Committee details Amtrak's difficult financial situation and poor performance www.oig.dot.gov/StreamFile?file=/data/pdfdocs/cc2005037.pdf; Amtrak's "Strategic Reform Initiatives and 2006 Budget Request" also highlights the need for greater state involvement and competition www.amtrak.com/pdf/strategic06.pdf: The Amtrak Reform Council, which was charted by Congress, found that, "Amtrak's poor performance is due to fundamental institutional flaws" govinfo.library.unt.edu/arc/second.html

NO 0%

Is the program design effectively targeted so that resources will address the program's purpose directly and will reach intended beneficiaries?

Explanation: Rail could potentially become a better utilized mode of passenger transportation. Amtrak provides intercity passenger rail service in 46 states and in 2004 and carried 25 million passengers. Yet this represents less than one half of one percent of share of the total intercity passenger transportation market. Rail is impractical for most travelers because many trains, particularly on long-distance routes, arrive irregularly and at odd times. Further, Amtrak's nation-wide route structure has not significantly changed to meet the needs of the traveling public. While almost all Amtrak trains operate at a loss, its long-distance trains generally require larger subsidies per passenger mile. DOT has no ability to force Amtrak to reorganize its routes or to reallocate resources.

Evidence: See: Amtrak's September 2004 Monthly Performance Report www.amtrak.com/pdf/of09monthly.pdf; DOT Congressional Testimony testimony.ost.dot.gov/test/Rosen3.pdf; Amtrak's 2003, 2004, and 2005 appropriation bills - thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:h.r.02572:

NO 0%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 30%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Explanation: Amtrak's 2004 5-year strategic plans include long-term goals of: 1) bringing the Northeast Corridor up to a state of good repair, 2) advancing infrastructure partnerships, and 3) updating/automating critical support infrastructure and processes to improve efficiency and reduce costs. FRA measures progress made against this plan to bring infrastructure and equipment to a state of good repair. Amtrak also measures the on-time performance of its trains, which is a critical indicator of system reliability and a key concern of customers. Additionally, FRA monitors operating losses per passenger mile by train. Given the current public debate over Amtrak's design and purpose, these measures may or may not be applicable going forward. FRA lacks long-term goals for its own performance. DOT does not incorporate Amtrak performance data into its agency performance documents because Amtrak is an entity.

Evidence: DOT defines state of good repair as the outcome expected from the capital investment needed to restore Amtrak's right-of-way (track, signals, and auxiliary systems) to a condition that requires only routine maintenance. Note that the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997 called for Amtrak to become financially self-sufficient on an operating basis by 2002. Amtrak has not met this goal. It continues to require more than $1 billion in Federal subsidies for operating and capital expenses. See: Amtrak's 2003, 2004, and 2005 appropriation bills; FY04-08 Strategic Plan. -www.amtrak.com/pdf/strategic04.pdf -FY05-09 Strategic Plan.www.amtrak.com/pdf/strategic05.pdf; Monthly Performance Reports. www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081442674477&ssid=322; FY05 grant request www.amtrak.com/pdf/fy05grantlegisrequest.pdf.

YES 12%

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Explanation: Amtrak's 5-year strategic plans outline an aggressive capital program designed to bring the Northeast Corridor infrastructure up to a state of good repair and improve fleet utilization. The 5-year schedule to achieve these improvements is an ambitious timeframe. Additionally, Amtrak aims for an 94 percent on-time arrival rate for its Acela trains along the Northeast Corridor and a 85 percent target rate for all trains.

Evidence: See: Amtrak Strategic Plans -- www.amtrak.com/pdf/strategic04.pdf; www.amtrak.com/pdf/strategic05.pdf

YES 12%

Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that can demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term goals?

Explanation: The annual measures are the same as those used for long-term goals. Amtrak reports detailed financial statistics and on-time performance information monthly to Congress and DOT. In addition, it reports progress made towards capital investment goals leading to a state of good repair.

Evidence: Amtrak monthly performance reports contain monthly revenue targets, on-time performance, cost recovery ratios, etc. -www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081442674477&ssid=322 --

YES 12%

Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets for its annual measures?

Explanation: Amtrak's on-time performance goals are aggressive, as is its program for returning capital and equipment to a state of good repair. For its grants oversight program, FRA plans to improve the monthly evaluation process, establish rate of return calculations for projects to prioritize selection, and measure human factor productivity.

Evidence: Amtrak FY04 and FY05 grant applications to DOT include aggressive targets; Also see Amtrak's monthly performance reports and Amtrak's FY2005 Comprehensive business plan. Amtrak monthly performance reports contain monthly revenue targets, on-time performance, cost recovery ratio, capital progress to date, etc., www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081442674477&ssid=322

YES 12%

Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?

Explanation: Amtrak has many partners including the Federal government, which is its primary financial partner. Without current authorizing legislation, the Federal government's relationship to Amtrak is not clearly defined, including its long-term financial commitment. DOT believes that Amtrak reform legislation is needed to clarify Amtrak's relationship to the Federal government and the states. Since 2003, FRA has overseen annual Federal appropriations by working closely with Amtrak to select the projects for its budgets and to establish goals for the grant process. From an operating standpoint, Amtrak's partners are states, commuter rail agencies, and freight railroad companies. The freight railroad companies own much of the track over which Amtrak operates, but they do not always commit to Amtrak's on-time performance goals.

Evidence: Note FY04 and FY05 grant agreements (not publicly available); Also see Amtrak monthly performance reports contain monthly revenue targets, on-time performance %, cost recovery ratio, capital progress to date, etc., www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081442674477&ssid=322: FY06 Budget Proposal.

NO 0%

Are independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: While the FRA grant review process for Amtrak has never been independently evaluated, Amtrak has been heavily researched and evaluated. For example, the DOT IG recently determined that although Amtrak was unable to reduce its immediate need for Federal operating subsidies, management had made progress in holding expenses steady and improving internal controls. The General Accountability Office (GAO) recently performed a thorough review of Amtrak's management and performance as well as a review of its contract for providing food service. Amtrak's most comprehensive review was undertaken by the Congressionally-chartered Amtrak Reform Council, which issued its findings in 2000 and 2001.

Evidence: Amtrak is monitored annually by DOT's IG. It is also scrutinized by the GAO, and its federal grants receive project level oversight by FRA. In addition, in the past it commissioned independent studies, such as the 2002 McKinsey consulting report. See IG Recent Reports at: www.oig.dot.gov/item_details.php?item=1441, www.oig.dot.gov/item_details.php?item=1221, www.oig.dot.gov/item_details.php?item=672, www.oig.dot.gov/item_details.php?item=509, www.oig.dot.gov/item_details.php?item=178, www.oig.dot.gov/item_details.php?item=232; See GAO reports www.gao.gov/new.items/d06145.pdf, www.gao.gov/new.items/d05867.pdf, www.gao.gov/new.items/rc00138.pdf, www.gao.gov/new.items/d02912r.pdf; See Amtrak Reform Council report at: govinfo.library.unt.edu/arc/second.html

YES 12%

Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Explanation: Amtrak is unique in that it submits its own appropriations request to Congress independently of the President's request for Amtrak through the DOT budget. These two requests often have differing goals. Amtrak's budget requests for FY 2003, 2004, and 2005 were based on its strategic plan to bring the Northeast Corridor infrastructure to a state of good repair. Amtrak's budgets outlined projects that would be undertaken and the labor requirements to complete those projects. For FY 2006, in addition to its funding request, Amtrak presented a set of strategic reforms, including extending state funding responsibility and introducing more competition. Recent Administration budgets have emphasized the need reform by tying support for increased funding to implementing design changes necessary for improving long-term performance.

Evidence: See: President's 2006 Budget, DOT Request www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2006/transportation.htmlFY06 Budget request - FY04 and FY05 grant agreements (not publicly available). Amtrak Strategic Reform Initiatives and FY06 Grant Request www.amtrak.com/pdf/strategic06.pdf: FY04-08 Strategic Plan: www.amtrak.com/pdf/strategic04.pdf: FY05-09 Strategic Plan.- www.amtrak.com/pdf/strategic05.pdf

YES 12%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?

Explanation: Amtrak's most recent management (starting in 2002) made progress correcting the railroad's operational problems. However, Amtrak's ability to plan effectively is undermined by uncertainty about its purpose and mission. Amtrak's authorizing statute expired in 2002, and Congress has not enacted new legislation that provides program objectives and authorities for undertaking reforms. Without this direction, Amtrak's planning has focused on maintaining the status quo system. GAO confirms, "Amtrak lacks a strategic plan that includes measurable corporatewide goals, strategies, and outcomes to guide the entire organization. In addition, without a mission or corporatewide goals, Amtrak cannot ensure that the annual department-specific goals developed by Amtrak's various departments support or improve overall corporate performance." Amtrak's 2005 "Strategic Reforms Initiatives" document does, though, begin to provide a more comprehensive vision statement for the organization.

Evidence: See: GAO report, "Amtrak Management: Systemic Problems Require Actions to Improve Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Accountability" www.gao.gov/new.items/d06145.pdf; Amtrak's FY04-08 Strategic Plan www.amtrak.com/pdf/strategic04.pdf: FY05-09 Strategic Plan.- www.amtrak.com/pdf/strategic05.pdf OIG Assesment Of Amtrak's 2003 And 2004 Financial Performance AND Requirements, www.oig.dot.gov/StreamFile?file=/data/pdfdocs/cr2005013.pdf; Amtrak 2005 Strategic Reforms Initiatives, www.amtrak.com/pdf/strategic06.pdf

NO 0%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 75%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score

Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?

Explanation: Amtrak uses five tools to manage the organization: organization chart, operating budget, capital program, goals and objectives, and a monthly performance report. The monthly reports detail basic financial performance, including budget comparisons, progress to-date on capital projects, and workforce statistics. FRA uses this information to assess Amtrak's progress, as well as its cash position. Amtrak also reports on-time performance data and evaluates the causes of delays such as bad weather or poor coordination with freights or commuters. However, it is not clear that Amtrak is able to use this information effectively to improve its performance. GAO recently found that "Amtrak lacks a strategic plan that includes key elements necessary to comprehensively manage the organization." GAO continues, "Amtrak does have a documented plan that states measurable corporatewide goals or strategies for controlling or reducing costs, managing on-time performance, increasing the productivity of the work force, or reducing dependency on federal funding." Without such a plan, GAO found that, "Amtrak lacks a process for developing annual (Amtrak) department specific performance goals that ensures these goals support or improve corporate outcomes. Departments cannot 1) assess or communicate the extent to which their department-specific goals are related to the priorities of the organization, or 2) contribute to Amtrak's performance."

Evidence: See: Amtrak monthly performance reports --www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081442674477&ssid=322; GAO Report "Amtrak Management: Systemic Problems Require Actions to Improve Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Accountability" www.gao.gov/new.items/d06145.pdf

NO 0%

Are Federal managers and program partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: While FRA examines Amtrak's budget and approves capital projects, FRA does not ultimately determine the success or failure of these projects. Amtrak performs the work and is responsible for the cost, adherence to schedule, and performance results. FRA lacks punitive authorities if projects are mismanaged.

Evidence: See: FY04 and FY05 grant agreements; DOT appropriations bills.

NO 0%

Are funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose?

Explanation: FRA obligates Amtrak's quarterly grants as soon as practicable after receiving Amtrak's requests. FRA provides both operating and capital grants in advance of Amtrak's expenditures. Amtrak spending reports indicate that it has used federal funds on approved projects.

Evidence: See: Amtrak monthly financial reports, year-end audited financials, and quarterly grant requests. www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081442674477&ssid=322

YES 17%

Does the program have procedures (e.g. competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, appropriate incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?

Explanation: Since 2002, Amtrak has instituted several steps that have contributed to a 15 percent decrease in core business expenses per train mile. These changes include: reducing payroll from 23,152 to 19,717; reducing management layers from 7 to 5; using GAAP accounting; providing regular financial reports to Congress and DOT; and instituting zero-based budgeting and tracking against monthly budget targets. Further, Amtrak intends to implement internal rate of return analyses to help prioritize capital investments. However, in general, it is not clear that Amtrak has systematic procedures for controlling costs or achieving efficiencies. GAO has found that Amtrak has not developed a comprehensive cost control strategy that uses performance or cost information to most effectively direct is control efforts. GAO notes, "Amtrak has not developed reliable and accurate unit cost information or standards to construct benchmarks because it has no reliable cost information on which to base them. Amtrak does not have an integrated, reliable, or timely way to track and collect cost information across all departments."

Evidence: See: DOT IG Assessment Of Amtrak's 2003 AND 2004 Financial Performance And Requirements -- www.oig.dot.gov/StreamFile?file=/data/pdfdocs/cr2005013.pdf; Amtrak's FY05 budget.--www.amtrak.com/pdf/fy05businessplan.pdf; Feb 05 Monthly Performance Report. -- www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081442674477&ssid=322; GAO Report "Amtrak Management: Systemic Problems Require Actions to Improve Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Accountability" www.gao.gov/new.items/d06145.pdf

NO 0%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: Amtrak provides services directly and has little coordination with other Federal programs, though Amtrak now receives security funds from the Department of Homeland Security. Amtrak currently lacks competition from other intercity passenger rail providers. Amtrak also coordinates its daily traffic with local commuter rail companies and freight rail companies both on and off of the Northeast Corridor.

Evidence: Amtrak is working to develop a pilot program to allow a state to contract with an alternative rail service provider.

NA 0%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: Amtrak is subject to external and internal financial controls. FRA analyzes Amtrak's monthly reports and ascertains Amtrak's performance (including cash status) against current and prior-year budgets. Amtrak keeps detailed and timely financial records, which it reports on a monthly basis. Its annual results are audited and certified by KPMG. Although the audit of its financials is usually completed in a timely manner, recently, there have been instances in which KPMG has not released its audit results or the management letter until well into the year due to issues relating to Amtrak as a going concern. Furthermore, in its review of Amtrak's management and performance, GAO found internal control weaknesses in each of the two areas it reviewed, and that the financial management information it provides to stakeholders for exercising stewardship lacks relevance and reliability.

Evidence: See: Amtrak monthly financial reports and year-end audited financials --www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081442674477&ssid=322; www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081794202462&ssid=161 GAO Report "Amtrak Management: Systemic Problems Require Actions to Improve Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Accountability" www.gao.gov/new.items/d06145.pdf

NO 0%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?

Explanation: Since 2002, FRA has worked closely with Amtrak to clarify financial reporting mechanisms and to develop meaningful measurements and reports. During this time, Amtrak's financial reporting improved significantly. It now reports financial metrics on a monthly basis and uses them to drive business decisions. It is also developed a different management structure that more clearly delineates the responsibilities of Amtrak managers. Before 2002, there was a complex organizational structure that lacked a direct chain of command. For example, there were 85 vice presidents on the payroll. Still, given Amtrak's increasing costs and declining performance, there are significant opportunities for Amtrak executives to improve their management of the company, such as controlling expenses associated with food services functions. Fundamentally, it is not clear that Amtrak has developed a system for evaluating program management and correcting deficiencies. GAO has found that, "Fundamental improvements are needed in the way Amtrak measures and monitors performance, develops and maintains financial controls, controls cost, acquires goods and services, and is held accountable for results. Although Amtrak management has taken steps to instill discipline and control over its operations, the corporation still lacks effective operating practices characteristic of well-run organizations, whether public or private."

Evidence: See: Monthly Performance Reports -- www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081442674477&ssid=322; DOT IG Assessment of Amtrak's 2003 and 2004 Financial and Performance Requirements -- www.oig.dot.gov/StreamFile?file=/data/pdfdocs/cr2005013.pdf; GAO Report "Amtrak Management: Systemic Problems Require Actions to Improve Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Accountability" www.gao.gov/new.items/d06145.pdf

NO 0%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 17%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term performance goals?

Explanation: Since 2002, Amtrak has made steady headway returning its equipment and infrastructure to a state of good repair, having installed 152,000 concrete ties, almost 60,000 wood ties, and over 120 track miles of rail since 2002. However, given the work yet to be done, the condition of Amtrak-owned capital and equipment is still far from a state of good repair. Further, on-time arrival rates, one of the most important considerations for travelers, have continued to worsen. The FRA grant program does not have any long-term measures at this time.

Evidence: See: Amtrak's FY 2005 Grant Request to Congress www.amtrak.com/pdf/fy05grantlegisrequest.pdf; FY 2005 Comprehensive Business Plan-- www.amtrak.com/pdf/fy05businessplan.pdf;


Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Explanation: In addition to the measures noted above, the percent of trains with losses per passenger mile of $.40 or more increased from 2003 to 2004.

Evidence: See: Amtrak's FY05 Operating and Capital Budgets Executive Summary www.amtrak.com/pdf/fy05businessplan.pdf; Amtrak's September 2004 Monthly Performance Report www.amtrak.com/pdf/of09monthly.pdf


Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year?

Explanation: The percent of trains that have operating losses of $.40 or more per passenger mile increased from 2003 to 2004. In addition, Amtrak's on-time arrival performance has steadily deteriorated. Further, while its operating costs have held steady due to reduced labor costs from headcount reductions, Amtrak continues to require more than $1 billion in annual Federal subsidies.

Evidence: See: April 05 Monthly Performance Report -- www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page& c=am2Copy&cid=1081442674477&ssid=322; FY2002, 2003 and 2004 audited financial statements -- www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081794202462&ssid=161"

NO 0%

Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., with similar purpose and goals?

Explanation: There are no other providers of intercity passenger rail in the US, so it is difficult to draw a comparison. Intercity passenger rail operations in other countries such as Europe and Japan are also not directly comparable. Certain factors exist internationally that have facilitated the development of passenger rail systems, including shorter distances covered, greater population densities, public perception of highway accessibility, physical separation of freight and passenger operations, and sustained government investment to develop infrastructure.

Evidence: See: CBO Report, "The Past and Future of US Passenger Rail Service" www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=4571&sequence=0

NA 0%

Do independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?

Explanation: Most independent evaluations have concluded that Amtrak's performance is deteriorating and that it is in need of major reform. In 2001, the Amtrak Reform Council found that Amtrak faced significant financial challenges, and that it would not become operationally self-sufficient as prescribed by law. The council made several recommendations including reorganizing Amtrak around a new business model and introducing competition into the rail marketplace. In 2002, GAO testified before Congress that, "The current approach to intercity passenger rail is not likely sustainable," given Amtrak's mounting costs. In 2004, the DOT Inspector General reported that, "unsustainably large operating losses, poor on-time performance, and increasing levels of deferred infrastructure and fleet investment are a clarion call to the need for significant changes in Amtrak's strategy."

Evidence: In late 2002, DOT IG and GAO both issued reports saying that Amtrak would not achieve operational self-sufficiency by 2002; See second ARC report govinfo.library.unt.edu/arc/second.html; GAO testimony www.gao.gov/new.items/d02522t.pdf; DOT IG testimony www.oig.dot.gov/StreamFile?file=/data/pdfdocs/cr2005013.pdf

NO 0%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 16%

Last updated: 09062008.2005SPR