400 Transportation:Eliminate the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Grant Program

Savings in Millions of Dollars
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
  • 2024
  • 2025
  • 2016-2020
  • 2016-2025


Savings are expressed as budget authority and were calculated by using the FY 2014 enacted spending levels as found on page 944 of “Appendix, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2015,” March 2014. The FY 2014 enacted spending was increased at the same rate as discretionary spending for 2016–2025, according to the CBO’s most recent August 2014 baseline spending projections. Projected savings may underestimate actual savings from eliminating this program, as President Obama has proposed a more than doubling of the TIGER budget, but we assume here that spending remains in line with its FY 2014 level.


Technical Notes on Scoring

CBO Baseline

Unless otherwise noted, calculations for savings for each recommendation relies on the most recent Congressional Budget Office baseline, as found in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” published August 27, 2014, has been used.

Savings “Totals”

While totals for the five and 10 year savings are provided by section and for the complete set of recommendations, there are two reasons they should not be viewed as representing total savings for The Budget Book.

First, as noted in the introduction, The Heritage Foundation would recommend that the savings realized in the Function 050 Defense section would stay within the Department of Defense to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Second, the numbers cannot be deemed to represent the realized savings if every single recommendation were adopted because policy changes made in one program can impact spending levels in other programs.  Thus, the numbers in the table do not reflect any potential interactions between the various policy changes affecting spending or savings.


Heritage Recommendation:

Eliminate the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, also called the National Infrastructure Investment Program. This proposal saves $609 million in 2016, and $6.5 billion over 10 years.


TIGER grants are wasteful & redundant. Save $6.5 billion. #BalancedBudget

TIGER is a competitive grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. It began as part of the 2009 stimulus bill and was intended to be a temporary program that funded road, rail, transit, and port projects in the national interest.

Six years later, this “temporary” program has proved too tempting a spending opportunity for Congress and the Administration to give up, and has remained a permanent fixture. President Obama proposed doubling the program’s budget to $1.25 billion in FY 2015, compared to the FY 2014 level of $600 million, which was already inflated by $125 million compared to 2013.

Through TIGER, Washington sends federal dollars to purely local, not federal, projects—one reason why it merits elimination. Past projects include a $16 million, six-mile pedestrian mall in Fresno, California, and a $10.4 million “Complete Street Initiative” (read: non-driver-friendly) project in Lee County, Florida.

Moreover, TIGER grants can amount to “administrative earmarks,” because federal bureaucrats choose the criteria that a project must meet, and in turn choose which projects will receive grants. That, in turn, gives cities perverse incentives to pander to Washington, asking for money for projects that may not even be aligned with their priorities at home.

The TIGER grant program adds to government bureaucracy, duplicates programs at state and local transportation agencies, and spends money on projects of the government’s choosing, not where private investors in a free market might put resources.

These projects would be more appropriately funded by the local communities that benefit from them. Congress should eliminate the TIGER program.

TIGER grants are wasteful & redundant. Save $6.5 billion. #BalancedBudget

Contributing Expert

Emily Goff advances conservative solutions to transportation and infrastructure challenges as policy analyst in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

See publications by Emily Goff

Emily GoffPolicy Analyst, Transportation and Infrastructure

Heritage Expert

Diane Katz, who has analyzed and written on public policy issues for more than two decades, is a research fellow in regulatory policy at The Heritage Foundation.

See publications by Diane Katz

Diane KatzResearch Fellow in Regulatory Policy

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