Summary

Most federal transportation funds are distributed to state and regional transportation entities by a legislatively set formula for different types of transportation. An exception to this rule is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program (formerly known as the TIGER program). The BUILD program is extremely flexible, with funding available for any kind of surface-transportation project and any government agency, and it the only transportation program that provides direct capital support to local transportation projects. This flexibility has made the BUILD program incredibly popular, receiving 10 times more applications than can be funded. However, the application process is extensive and can require outside assistance to produce, making the application itself too expensive for some areas to take on, especially considering the high level of competition. USDOT should create a simpler application that most public agencies can manage with internal staff to make the program more universally available to communities of all sizes and levels of capacity.