U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Programmatic agreements establish a streamlined process for handling routine environmental requirements for commonly encountered project types. They usually set procedures for consultation, review and compliance with one or more federal laws. This EDC2 initiative will continue to expand programmatic agreements and will focus on agreements with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). By considering repetitive actions on a program basis rather than individually by project, efficiency is increased while maintaining appropriate consideration for the environment.
Programmatic agreements are efficient and effective by: (1) specifying clear roles and responsibilities of those involved; (2) standardizing coordination and compliance procedures; (3) facilitating the development of greater trust relationships among DOT and regulatory agency staff; (4) allowing limited staff and resources to be more focused and effective; and (5) decreasing permit processing time while improving the predictability of permitting conditions.
The initial EDC initiative to expand programmatic approaches successfully added scores of new agreements. Some of these new state-level agreements could be applied to other states or modified to include several states in a region. Applying existing agreements to new states or expanding them to regions also reduce the costs associated with initiating new agreements and updating existing agreements.
A recent example of this approach is the "Matrix" developed in Nebraska among FHWA, Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR), Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC), and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for complying with both the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Nebraska Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act (NESCA). The "Matrix" identifies standardized effect determinations based on construction activity type, onsite species records/habitat conditions, and includes the development of standardized conservation conditions (measures) for all state and federally-listed species. By implementing this agreement’s programmatic process, USFWS and NGPC have concurred that Nebraska highway projects would not likely adversely affect federal and state listed endangered and threatened species.
Early in 2012, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and FHWA finalized a Programmatic Consultation (PC) agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service that builds upon the existing USFWS PC that is already in place. Together, the two PCs streamline WSDOT highway construction and maintenance projects statewide that require ESA Section 7 compliance.
There are a wide range of tools available to assist Division Office and State DOTs to assist in the creation, expansion or revision of programmatic approaches including:
EDC Programmatic Agreements Fact Sheet (.pdf, .74 mb)