Four different levels of review and administration define National Scenic Byways Program grant applications and funding.
Most anyone involved with a byway or byway project can apply for a National Scenic Byways Program grant. Typical applicants include State and Indian tribe byway coordinators (for statewide or Indian tribe byway program development or marketing projects, for example), local byway groups, and communities along byways. Applicants identify eligible projects and must review all grant eligibility and processing requirements. Local byway groups are responsible for the preparation of the grant applications. Along with providing specific information on the project, its financing, and management, local byway groups are responsible for identifying a 20 percent match against the Federal funds. This match can be in the form of funds, in-kind services, or both. For the grant request to move forward, some States require the matching funds to be "in hand" while other States guarantee or assist with the match requirement.
The State or Indian tribe byway coordinator is typically a staff member of either the State or Tribal highway agency or the State or Tribal tourism office. This person is responsible for assisting local byways with their grant applications; reviewing and evaluating project proposals, prioritizing the applications based on specific State, Indian tribe, and National Scenic Byways Program eligibility criteria, submitting the applications to the FHWA Division Office, developing project agreements, and guiding the expenditure of the funds. The byway coordinator also verifies that applications are complete prior to submittal to the FHWA Division Office.
Following the selection of grant awards by the Secretary of Transportation, the coordinator advises and guides byways through their funded project. This work can involve support for environmental reviews, developing project agreements, communicating with FHWA offices, monitoring the use of funds, and project completion reporting.
The FHWA Division Office is responsible for processing the National Scenic Byways Program grant applications. The Division Office advises byway coordinators on questions of eligibility, match sources, financial partnerships, and the general requirements of the grant program. The Division Office reviews grant applications to identify incomplete or ineligible applications. After grants are awarded, the Division Office approves project agreements and the authorizations necessary for obligating the funds, answers questions from the State or Indian tribe byway coordinators, and reviews and approves all requests for reimbursements. Final closeout reporting is also the responsibility of the Division Office.
National Scenic Byways Program staff within the Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty at the FHWA headquarters review all applications for eligibility, degree of compliance with statutory and administrative criteria, and degree of compliance with predefined decision-making criteria for that particular grant round. After the grant awards have been determined by the Secretary of Transportation, Congress is notified of the selected projects prior to public announcement. Once the funding becomes available from annual Congressional appropriations, the National Scenic Byway Program staff allocates the funding for specific projects and provides the necessary information for the FHWA Division offices to administer the projects.