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Stewardship/Oversight Task Force - Appendix E
Executive/Management National Outreach
The implementation of this policy and performance plan recommendations should also be discussed at Division Administrator meetings held nationally and at the local meetings with the Director of Field Services. Tri-Regional Forums, discussions with STA Transportation Agencies and via 60 minute calls / video conferences are also opportunities to clarify mutual understanding of the policy
External Outreach - Management needs to have discussions with appropriate AASHTO Committees and at Regional AASHTO meetings concerning this Task Force and implementation of recommendations. Initial discussion will occur at the AASHTO Standing Committee on Highways meeting December 8, 2000.
When the new policy becomes official, it should to be emphasized to the STA from the top (Administrator) down with emphasis at national meeting discussions etc of what the FHWA role is. It should not be left largely to the Divisions to emphasis it from the bottom up.
FHWA Office Outreach
Members of the Stewardship Task Force are available upon request to make presentations on stewardship and oversight.
FHWA STEWARDSHIP POLICY QUESTION & ANSWER PAPER
1) QUESTION: Does the Policy Statement conflict with previously issued guidance - most notably guidance contained in the Executive Director's March 11, 1992-memorandum in which it is stated that "FHWA has no responsibility for insuring compliance with any Federal or State requirements regarding design or construction of (Non-NHS) projects?"
ANSWER: The guidance in the policy statement replaces earlier guidance regarding oversight. The policy statement acknowledges FHWA has overall responsibility for the entire Federal Highway program. As FHWA discharges that responsibility it must focus its activities in high priority/high risk areas. Whether or not detailed project related oversight activities are conducted on non-NHS projects depends on the FHWA/STA agreement reached in accordance with 23 U.S.C.106(c)(3) and whether or not non-NHS projects constitute high priority/high risk areas.
2) QUESTION: Why is FHWA assuming new oversight responsibilities?
ANSWER: FHWA is not assuming new responsibilities. The policy statement acknowledges FHWA has overall responsibility for the Federal highway program, which must be exercised within the parameters of 23 U.S.C.106. FHWA will not exercise project level oversight responsibilities that go beyond 23 USC 106 and the agreement required by 23 USC 106(c)(3). FHWA may include assessments of projects for which the STA has project level oversight responsibility in program level reviews.
3) QUESTION: The FHWA restated policy on stewardship and oversight does not use the term "exempt". Why not?
ANSWER: After the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, FHWA introduced the term "exempt" to refer to projects for which FHWA was not going to be involved in project level review and oversight. The term was sometimes misinterpreted to mean that FHWA does not have program or project oversight responsibility. In reality, FHWA has program level responsibility for all projects, even those for which a STA has assumed project responsibilities in accordance with 23 USC 106. In order to alleviate the confusion that has arisen regarding the term "exempt", a conscious decision was made to avoid the use of the term when the restated policy was developed.
4) QUESTION: What role does FHWA play in "problem solving," if any?
ANSWER: 49 U.S.C.101(b)(5) indicates USDOT [and modal agencies] must "provide general leadership in identifying and solving transportation problems. The reference to problem solving in the policy paper is in the context of FHWA stewardship responsibilities. Helping our partners solve problems has been a long-standing function of FHWA.
5) QUESTION: As a result of the restated policy, will it be necessary to renegotiate the agreement with the STA required by 23 USC 106(c)(3)?
ANSWER: Not necessarily. The agreement should result from a dialogue between the FHWA and the STA about how oversight of the Federal-aid program in the state is managed. The agreement should be seen as an opportunity to identify and document program oversight efficiencies that reflect strengths and other unique characteristics that exist within the state. While a periodic agreement review and update cycle is not specified it makes sense to assess and reconfirm the agreement as changes occur in issues or programs.
6) QUESTION: Does the restated policy signal a return to business prior to 1991, i.e., project oriented oversight?
ANSWER: ABSOLUTELY NOT. The policy statement emphasizes the point that FHWA has overall responsibility for the Federal Highway program, and acknowledges that, in accordance with 23 USC 106, STAs are to act for the Federal government in certain project related activities. The policy statement provides flexibility to implement a balanced set of program and project-based activities, consistent with the requirements of 23 U.S.C 106(c)(3). The agreement as to these activities should provide reasonable assurance that the Federal Highway program is implemented effectively and efficiently and in compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and policies.
7) QUESTION: The policy statement suggests that review activities are to include verification activities. What does this mean, particularly in regard to the agreement required by 23 U.S.C.106(c)(3)?
ANSWER: The policy discusses FHWA verification activities in a number of areas. The FHWA is held accountable for the expenditure of public funds and the implementation of the Federal highway programs. This accountability includes The FHWA confirmation that there are processes and procedures in place, as may be described in the agreement required by 23 U.S.C.106(c)(3) and elsewhere, to assure compliance with applicable laws and policies.
8) QUESTION: Is the risk assessment or prioritization process a formal or informal process?
ANSWER: The FHWA Office, in conjunction with the STA or Federal Agency, have the flexibility to determine how they will conduct the risk assessment/prioritization process and the format used to document the analysis and conclusions.
9) QUESTION: The policy statement does not deal with the differences in oversight for Interstate, NHS, and non-NHS projects. Why not?
ANSWER: The statement emphasizes the FHWA overall responsibility for the Federal Highway program. The FHWA overall program remains the same across funding categories. It is the mechanisms that we use to manage our oversight responsibility at the project level that change based on the program and the role the STA has in managing the project level activities. It is expected that the differences in FHWA involvement for Interstate, NHS and non-NHS projects will be documented in each agreement required by 23 USC 106(c)(3) agreement.
10) QUESTION: For projects administered by Local Public Agencies (LPA) what is the oversight role for both STA and FHWA?
ANSWER: FHWA has oversight responsibility for the Federal-aid program. Nothing in the policy statement changes the provisions of 23 CFR, Section 635.105 that establishes STA responsibility for projects constructed by LPAs. FHWA holds the STA accountable for LPA administered projects and may conduct verification activities to assure that the STA and LPA's, are carrying out its roles and responsibilities according to laws, regulations and policies.
11) QUESTION: Is it expected that the policy statement will result in increased staffing needs?
ANSWER: No. It is expected that FHWA managers will, as they have always done, develop approaches to address program needs within their current resource allocations. Risk/benefit considerations will need to be made to select high priority to effectively manage resources. It is envisioned that implementation of this policy will result in increased staff efficiencies.
12) QUESTION: Are there any new tools for use in working with oversight?
ANSWER: FHWA needs to do more work in this area. There are program review techniques that have been in existence for several years, and we are gaining more experience with Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) techniques. FHWA needs to develop risk benefit analysis from a conceptual framework to a workable tool that can be used in establishing priorities for oversight activities.
BRIEFING PAPER - FHWA 2000 STEWARDSHIP TASK FORCE
POWER POINT PRESENTATION
(PowerPoint Version 55 kb.)
FHWA PROPOSED OVERSIGHT POLICY
FHWA SPRING BUSINESS MEETING
Expectations - Regardless of Program Structure
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