The Safe Routes to School Program was authorized under SAFETEA-LU. SAFETEA-LU SRTS program funds remain eligible until these funds are expended.
Q: Eligible Grant Recipients Question: Can a State limit who is an eligible grant recipient? (posted 3/3/06)
Q: Native American Question: Are Federally recognized Indian tribal governments eligible grant recipients? (posted 12/5/08)
Q: Force Account Question: For small projects, my State DOT would like to use its own employees to do the work rather than go through a procurement process that may not be cost effective for such small work. Can we do this under title 23? (posted 3/3/06)
Q: Title 23 Question: A lot of SRTS projects may be on roads that are not Federal-aid highways or they may be outside the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway. Does this mean we have to follow federal-aid requirements for these and minor infrastructure projects? (posted 3/3/06)
Answer: The law requires a State to "fund" a full time SRTS Coordinator, not necessarily "hire" a Coordinator. Thus, the State can reassign duties of an on board person or they can hire a new person. Regardless of how they go about filling the position, the distinction is that the legislation requires a full-time Coordinator of the State's SRTS program. (Dated October 13, 2005)
Answer: No. These are two separate and distinct positions. The SRTS Coordinator is in addition to the existing State DOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator position. As stated in the answer to the prior question, the SRTS Coordinator must be 100% dedicated to SRTS coordination activities. A State will not be in compliance with the law if they assign, as collateral duty, SRTS coordination activities to existing staff or have their SRTS Coordinator handle other programs or projects in addition to Safe Routes to School. To avoid confusion, we would encourage a State to give their SRTS Coordinator the title of "Safe Routes to School State Coordinator" or something similar that differentiates the SRTS Coordinator from the existing Bicycle / Pedestrian Coordinator even though, organizational, the State may choose to collocate the staff. (Dated October 13, 2005)
Answer: No. This clearly does not meet the intent of the law. Report language states that "the creation of a state level safe routes to school coordinator position provides for a central point of contact for the program." Parceling out the function to two or more people does not provide for a central point of contact. (Dated October 13, 2005)
Answer: The legislation is silent on this issue. We prefer that the Coordinator have standing within the State DOT and the most effective way to achieve this is by being a State DOT employee. However, we recognize State DOTs have limitations on FTE, ceiling caps, and some State DOTs must get legislative approval to fill a new position -hurdles that could significantly delay or derail moving this program forward. Accordingly, in those cases where a State and Division agree that contracting out or assigning the full-time coordinator position to another State agency is in the best interest of moving the program forward, the Division should, in consultation with HQ, permit it. (Dated October 13, 2005)
Answer: The responsibility still lies with the State DOT. They are responsible for managing the dollars, the program, and ensuring that all Federal requirements are meet vis-à-vis the law that established the program regardless of how they go about filling the Coordinator's position. (Dated October 13, 2005)
Answer: No, not if the State plans to have the existing person handle this new program too. What the State will have to do, however, is pay the existing person with funds from these new dollars. The law does not give us much flexibility. It says, "Each State receiving an apportionment under this section for a fiscal year shall use a sufficient amount of the apportionment to fund a full-time position of coordinator of the State's safe routes to school program." We recognize this may be an accounting burden but it's important that the State is in conformance with the law. (Dated October 13, 2005)
Answer: The source of funds comes from the infrastructure portion of the State's annual SRTS Federal-aid apportionment. The Joint Explanatory Statement accompanying SAFETEA-LU (pp. 866-867) states, "Funding for the state level safe routes to school coordinator position is NOT (emphasis added) included in the 10 - 30 percent of funds required to be used for non-infrastructure related activities under this subsection. The State coordinator's position is to be funded from the balance of the state's safe routes to school funds." (Dated October 13, 2005)
Answer: Yes, the hiring of technical assistance to assist the State Coordinator with the establishment and implementation of the new State wide federally funded program is an eligible expense. This expense falls under the Coordinator's position that is paid from the infrastructure portion of the program. In the guidance under "Coordinator Requirement" we state that "In addition to the salary and fringe benefits of the Coordinator, other costs that are necessary and reasonable for the efficient performance of the Coordinator's duties (e.g. travel, training, etc.) that are allowable under OMB Circular A-87 may be charged to SRTS funds" The contract would be included in the Federal-aid project for the coordinator position, should be identified in the scope of work for that project, and requires prior approval of the FHWA Division office to ensure it passes the necessary and reasonableness test.
Answer: The legislation establishes eligible grant recipients as “State, local, and regional agencies, including nonprofit organizations, that demonstrate an ability to meet the requirements of this section.” FHWA interprets the above as providing the State DOTs the authority to make a determination about the capability of an entity wishing to carry out a SRTS project(s). If a State DOT determines that an entity does not have the capability, then the State DOT can limit participation consistent with the above statutory language.
Answer: Yes. The SAFETEA–LU Technical Corrections Act of 2008 amended Section 1404(e) of such Act (119 Stat. 1229) by inserting "tribal," after "local,". The amended section reads, “Amounts apportioned to a State under this section shall be used by the State to provide financial assistance to State, local, tribal, and regional agencies, including nonprofit organizations, that demonstrate an ability to meet the requirements of this section.”
Force Account Question: For small projects, my State DOT would like to use its own employees to do the work rather than go through a procurement process that may not be cost effective for such small work. Can we do this under title 23?
Answer: Yes, title 23 permits “force account construction” if the State is able to document a finding of cost effectiveness. This documentation would include a description of the work to be performed, the estimated costs and the reasons why public agency force accounting methods are considered to be more cost effective than traditional contracting methods. See CFR § 635 (B) - Construction and Maintenance, Subpart B – Force Account Construction.
Title 23 Question: A lot of SRTS projects may be on roads that are not Federal-aid highways or they may be outside the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway. Does this mean we have to follow federal-aid requirements for these and minor infrastructure projects?
Answer: Yes. Our analysis of the legislation indicates that Congress required that States treat SRTS projects as if they were on the Federal-aid system despite their functional classification or location within the right-of-way. The law states (j) Treatment of Projects – Notwithstanding any other provision of law, projects assisted under this subsection shall be treated as projects on a Federal-aid system under chapter 1 of title 23, United States Code. The provisions of title 23 include projects agreements, authorization to proceed prior to incurring costs, etc. In addition, due to the above statutory language, all infrastructure projects under SRTS program must comply with Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rates, competitive bidding, and other contracting requirements, even for projects not located within the right-of-way of a federal-aid highway.