|FHWA > Federal-aid Program Administration > Stewardship & Oversight > Stewardship Agreement|
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Signed on 10/01/07
Federal Highway Administration and Maine Department of Transportation Federal-aid Highway Program Stewardship and Oversight Agreement
I. PURPOSE AND SCOPE
This Agreement between the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration Maine Division (Division) sets forth the roles, responsibilities and expectations of both parties in the administration and oversight of Federal-aid highway projects and programs in the State of Maine. As a condition of accepting Federal-aid highway funds, MaineDOT agrees to follow all applicable project and program requirements and understands and agrees that appropriate flexibility is concurrent with accountability.
23 USC §106 Project Approval and Oversight provides MaineDOT and the Federal Highway Administration Maine Division (Division) flexibility to share stewardship and oversight responsibilities for the Federal-aid highway program.
The purpose of this Agreement is to utilize the flexibility allowed by 23 USC §106, to streamline program delivery and to better document stewardship of the Federal-aid highway program in Maine. The Agreement builds on the partnership that has evolved through daily administration of the program. It recognizes the need to define both agencies' roles, responsibilities and expectations. FHWA seeks to assist MaineDOT in spending Federal-aid funds appropriately and in the public interest. Toward that end, the Division will make use of available regulatory flexibility when in the public interest. The Division commits that it will provide an explanation of the rationale and decision-making process when flexibility does not exist.
The MaineDOT and the Division agree that the Federal-aid highway program is a State Administered-Federally Assisted program and that the achievement of national and state goals depends on MaineDOT's ability to manage the program. Both agencies also understand that the Federal Highway Administration is accountable to Congress and the public for the stewardship of Federal-aid funds and that the Division cannot delegate its overall responsibility for the Federal-aid highway program in Maine. This Agreement does not preclude the Division access to and review of Federal-aid projects at any time, and does not replace the provisions of Title 23 U.S.C.
The MaineDOT and the Division agree to adhere to the provisions and responsibilities included herein. The MaineDOT and the Division further agree to carry out their responsibilities in a cooperative spirit and to commit the resources needed to effectively implement this Agreement. Both agencies acknowledge their joint responsibility for the administration of the Federal-aid highway program. In addition, MaineDOT and the Division agree that timely identification and sharing of potential issues and timely responses are required for efficient operations.
To support this Agreement, enhance the efficiency of operations, and to further both agencies' stewardship in pursuit of missions and goals, the Partnership Agreement defines and details the operational processes and procedures by which we conduct business. This Partnership Agreement covers stewardship and oversight of program areas, including: planning; environment; design; right of way; bridge; civil rights; safety; construction, materials, and contract administration; and full oversight projects. Both agencies' roles and responsibilities are detailed in each section. The Partnership Agreement serves as a companion document to this Agreement, however, it may be modified as mutually deemed necessary without altering this Agreement.
The MaineDOT agrees that in assuming certain Title 23 approval authorities, it will ensure that projects are developed and implemented in full compliance with Federal requirements and that corrective action will be taken when actions and approvals are found to be in non-compliance with applicable Federal requirements. The Division is available for consultation in such matters or may initiate program review and evaluation efforts at its discretion.
The MaineDOT recognizes its responsibility and accepts authority for managing Federal aid funds for much of the program. Inherent in this assumption is that the MaineDOT accepts the additional risk commensurate with its authority. Non-compliance with Federal requirements can have consequences in terms of Federal-aid participation. These consequences are usually determined on a case by case basis, but a few basic guiding principles are available:
This Agreement supersedes the "Agreement for the Partnering and Shared Oversight of Federal-Aid Projects," which was signed on May 19, 1999 and amended on August 4, 2004.
Stewardship – The efficient and effective management of the public funds that have been entrusted to the MaineDOT and the Maine Division.
Oversight – The act of ensuring that the Federal-aid highway program is delivered consistent with laws, regulations, and agency policies.
Full Oversight Projects – Projects that require FHWA to review and approve actions pertaining to design, plans, specifications, estimates, right-of-way certification, contract awards, inspections, and final acceptance of Federal-aid projects on a project by project basis.
Delegated Projects – Projects that do not require FHWA to review and approve actions pertaining to design, plans, specifications, estimates, right-of-way certification, contract awards, inspections, contract modifications and final acceptance of Federal-aid projects on a project by project basis. This term supersedes the term "exempt project" used in previous agreements.
Final Voucher – A final voucher represents the final claim, submitted by the State for a single completed project accepted by the FHWA. The approval of the final voucher does not eliminate the FHWA's right to disallow costs and recover funds on the basis of a later audit or other review or the State's obligation to return any funds due as a result of later refunds, corrections, or other transactions.
Project Agreement – A contractual obligation of the Federal Government for the payment of the Federal share of project costs. The agreement will include a description of the project, the Federal-aid project number, the work covered, total cost and amount of Federal-aid funds, the Federal share of funds, signature of State and Federal officials and any other provisions set out by 23 U.S.C. 106 and or 23 CFR.
III. PROGRAM OVERSIGHT
The Federal Highway Administration is implementing risk management concepts nationally. Each year, the Division conducts a risk assessment to determine the areas and the level of risk to the Federal-aid highway program in Maine. The Division will coordinate the results of the assessment with the MaineDOT and will use the results to guide stewardship and oversight activities. The Division will use the most current version of the FHWA Risk Management Framework guidance.
The Division will perform process reviews in areas that rank high on risk assessments. Although the Division may undertake reviews independently, MaineDOT will generally be asked to participate. Other FHWA Divisions, the Resource Center, or Headquarters may also provide team members. The MaineDOT and the Division will each identify a sponsor for the review.
The FHWA Administrator issued FHWA Order 4560.1a establishing the Financial Integrity Review and Evaluation (FIRE) Program as a review and oversight program that each Division Office is required to perform in support of FHWA's annual certification of internal and financial controls. There are five components of the FIRE Program that jointly involve MaineDOT and the Division Office. (1) A financial management review will be conducted annually. The selection of the review will be based on the risk assessment that is completed every year. (2) The risk assessment portion of the FIRE Program has been integrated into the overall Risk Management Framework. (3) A quarterly review of inactive projects in accordance with 23 CFR 630 Subpart A will be completed. The Division Office will work with MaineDOT to determine the validity of the obligated amount for all projects that appear on the Financial Management Information System (FMIS) report Q40. (4) Federal-aid billing reviews will be done periodically to verify eligibility and accuracy of costs billed to FHWA. (5) The annual Single Audit with MaineDOT's corrective action plan for any findings will be submitted by MaineDOT to the Division Office for review. A management decision will be issued from the Division Office Financial Manager addressing each FHWA program related finding.
The Division is prepared to provide, with it own staff or from elsewhere in FHWA, technical assistance to MaineDOT or local transportation agencies. Technical assistance activities will be decided on a case-by-case basis in consultation with MaineDOT, other partners and the Division. The Division will continue to focus time and effort on improving processes and procedures, in cooperation with the MaineDOT.
IV. MAINEDOT AND DIVISION PROJECT RESPONSIBILITIES:
This Section sets forth roles and responsibilities for Full Oversight and Delegated projects.
Full Oversight Projects:
Division responsibility The Division retains review and approval authority for Title 23 actions pertaining to scoping/planning, design, plans, specifications, estimates, right-of-way certification, contract awards, inspections, contract modifications and final acceptance of Federal-aid projects. The Division retains review and approval authority for non-Title 23 requirements including, but not limited to planning, environmental, right of way, wage rates and civil rights laws. The Division will conduct its oversight through regular project monitoring and involvement.
Projects will be selected for Full Oversight based on the following:
Notwithstanding the above recognition that projects and project managers will be selected by mutual agreement, both agencies acknowledge that FHWA does have overall responsibility for the Federal-aid program and may select projects at its sole discretion.
Full Oversight activities are shown in the following table:
MaineDOT Responsibility The MaineDOT assumes review and approval authority for Title 23 actions pertaining to design, plans, specifications, estimates, right-of-way certification, contract awards, inspections, contract modifications and final acceptance of Federal-aid projects. The MaineDOT agrees that it will comply with the requirements of all applicable Federal laws on Federal-aid projects in Maine.
Specific MaineDOT responsibilities for delegated projects include:
Division Responsibility The Division has delegated review and approval authority for Title 23 actions pertaining to design, plans, specifications, estimates, right-of-way certification, contract awards, inspections, contract modifications and final acceptance of these projects. The Division continues to retain review and approval authority for non-Title 23 requirements including, but not limited to planning, environmental review, right of way acquisition, wage rates, and civil rights laws.
The Division's oversight of delegated projects will typically be through program level activities, such as Process Review/Program Evaluation (PR/PE), Continuous Process Improvement (CPI), etc. However, the Division may involve itself in any Federal-aid project when actions and approvals are found to be in non-compliance with applicable Federal requirements. The MaineDOT may also request Division assistance.
Specific Division responsibilities for delegated projects include:
For all projects, the MaineDOT will request the obligation of Federal funds from the FHWA and submit information required to support the obligation through the Financial Management Information System (FMIS). The FHWA will promptly obligate the funds and set the date of Federal participation for the work authorized. In all cases, FHWA approval of the project authorization request and obligation of funds must occur before the work begins. The funds obligated should be adequate to cover all work authorized.
VII. LOCALLY ADMINISTERED PROJECTS
23 USC §106 Project Approval and Oversight states that the States shall be responsible for determining that subrecipients of Federal funds under Title 23 have adequate project delivery systems for projects and sufficient accounting controls to properly manage Federal funds. The US Secretary of Transportation through the FHWA is charged to periodically review the monitoring of subrecipients by the States. In addition, the Division will periodically assess and report on the effectiveness of the MaineDOT processes and procedures for locally administered projects (LAP) to ensure they are carried out in accordance with Federal requirements. The Division will incorporate projects administered by local agencies into the review scope of all program reviews, as appropriate.
The MaineDOT agrees to maintain and implement the necessary processes and procedures to ensure locally administered projects are reliably carried out in accordance with Federal requirements. The MaineDOT also agrees that nothing contained herein shall relieve it from accountability for compliance with Federal laws and regulations with respect to the expenditure of Federal-aid highway funds in the State of Maine, including those funds passed through to local governments.
The MaineDOT understands that the Division will claim repayment from MaineDOT, rather than the subrecipient, for items of non-complying work that are determined to be ineligible. The MaineDOT may at its discretion seek repayment from the subrecipients.
VIII. RECORD RETENTION
MaineDOT will retain project records to support all activities including the estimated cost of construction. Such records shall be available for review and retained for a period of 3 years after payment of the final voucher. Electronic records are acceptable to meet documentation retention requirements.
IX. BUSINESS STANDARDS
Face-to-face, meetings, email, and telephone communication will be frequent and routine. When the Division provides an "official" response via email, it will be noted in the email and MaineDOT will be asked to keep a copy of that email in the file for documentation purposes. Letters may be sent when the issue is significant enough to warrant and they will be used to transmit all process review reports and other reports/items of a non-routine nature.
This agreement will be in force upon signing by MaineDOT and the Division and will remain in effect until either party terminates it. In the event that either party wishes to terminate the Agreement, the termination action will be documented either once a new Agreement is executed, or when interim provisions are implemented that will remain in effect until such time as a new Agreement is executed.