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Watchdog: $161 million in airport grants improper

WASHINGTON — A government watchdog says the Federal Aviation Administration didn’t follow rules or made errors two years ago when awarding $161 million to airports for improvement projects.

The Transportation Department’s inspector general’s office released a report Friday that says in some cases the FAA failed to document spending, in others money was awarded to projects ineligible for funding. The report says that in a few cases duplicate or overpayments payments were made.

The inspector general’s estimate was based on a sample of 26 grants. FAA awarded more than $4 billion to more than 1,500 airport projects that year.

FAA officials have told the inspector general their analysis shows improper awards could have been as low as $47 million.