Chapter 1 Clearance Requirements
Chapter 2 Writing Guidelines
Chapter 3 Developing and Processing Procedures
This guide, consisting of 3 chapters, provides standards and rules governing the issuance and management of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA’s) directives. Chapter 1 discusses clearance procedures and requirements. Chapter 2 provides writing guidelines and formats for FHWA directives, including templates for Orders and Notices. Chapter 3 covers the procedures in creating, amending, canceling, and distributing directives, including the concurrence process.
This guide provides users with concise and easy to follow instructions in writing FHWA directives. Examples and writing samples are provided to illustrate the use of the rules. For users’ convenience, links to the relevant references are provided in the text and the appendix.
For background information and additional information about the FHWA Directives System, see FHWA Order 1321.1C, FHWA Directives Management, dated January 6, 2010.
What is the purpose of the clearance process? The purpose of the clearance process is to coordinate viewpoints and identify and resolve differences, procedural conflicts, or duplications before a directive is submitted for final concurrence and approval. Substantive guidance relative to the FHWA clearance process for proposed directives, regulations, and other issuances is provided in FHWA Order 1300.5, FHWA Coordination Guidelines, dated October 4, 1991.
Should directives get priority treatment? Yes. Since delays in clearance can delay action and create unnecessary workloads, directives clearances should be given priority whenever possible. The amount of time provided for review varies with each directive, from a minimum of 7 calendar days to a maximum of 30 calendar days for field clearances and 15 calendar days for Washington Headquarters clearances. The originating offices in Washington Headquarters should use Form FHWA111/Routing Slip for coordination.
What are the requirements for clearances?
Determining necessary clearances. The originating offices should forward a proposed directive to those FHWA offices that are:
(1) responsible for standards, criteria, or procedures included or referenced in the proposed issuance;
(2) affected by the proposed issuance, and those required to take action or modify activities as a result of the proposed issuance;
(3) responsible for programs or activities that would be materially affected; or
(4) administratively or legally responsible for making a review of the proposed issuance.
(1) Form FHWA111/Routing Slip is used to coordinate draft directives. Concurrences on the final directive are shown on the official copy.
(2) All proposed directives are reviewed by the Directives Manager (DM) in the Management Programs and Analysis Division (HAIM-10) before signature or approval. To minimize the review time, directives in the draft stage should be emailed to the DM.
Directives that need external clearance. The external clearance process provides organizations such as the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST), other Department of Transportation (DOT) operating administrations (OAs), and other Federal agencies the opportunity to comment, concur, or both, on an FHWA directive.
(1) Normally, a directive is circulated within the FHWA to obtain a coordinated FHWA position before external coordination. Originating offices must not make commitments during clearance discussions with external organizations before the establishment of a coordinated FHWA position. It is the program offices’ responsibility to obtain their clearances.
(2) Proposed FHWA directives are cleared with OST before issuance when:
(a) required by Departmental directives or regulations,
(b) an issue of special interest to an OST office is involved, or
(c) requested by OST.
What is the purpose of the writing guidelines? The purpose of the writing guidelines is to provide standards and rules in creating FHWA directives and to achieve successful communication between the reader and the author. To ensure this, the subject matter must be well organized and presented in plain language that all can easily understand. The following paragraphs provide details in creating FHWA directives. The originating office or the Office of Primary Interest (OPI) is requested to follow the guidelines in creating directives.
What is Plain Language? Plain Language (also called Plain English) is communication the audience can understand the first time they read or hear it. Use Plain Language to write all the directives. For more information on how to use Plain Language in writing directives, see the Plain Language Web site.
When do I use the following terminologies?
State DOT. Use this term when referring to the State organization responsible for administering the highway program.
Washington Headquarters. Use this term when referring to the Washington Headquarters as opposed to "Headquarters," "Headquarters office," etc.
What are the rules in capitalization?
Division and resource center. These words are not capitalized, unless referring to a specific office.
Directive type. The name of a directive type, i.e., Notice or Order, is capitalized.
Federal and State. These two words are always capitalized.
Metropolitan planning organization. Do not capitalize unless referring to a specific organization.
Position titles. Capitalize titles when referring to a specific position. Do not capitalize titles when referring to a general position, e.g. highway engineer.
What are the rules governing acronyms?
First usage. When using acronyms, spell out the complete item when first used, followed by the acronym in parentheses. Subsequent references to the term are by the acronym.
Beginning sentences. An acronym is preceded by "the" when the acronym begins the sentence.
What are the rules governing lists and series?
Completing a sentence. When a list or series completes the sentence, first words are not capitalized and a comma or a semicolon is used consistently between the components.
The major factors to be considered by the panel are:
(1) candidate's potential to contribute to the employing agency's program for environmental protection,
(2) relevant experience, and
(3) academic and professional achievements.
Independent phrases. When a list or series consists of independent phrases, the first words are capitalized, commas and/or semicolons are omitted, and generally a period is used at the end of the phrase. The period may be omitted if the phrase is short or a one-word item.
The major factors to be considered by the panel are listed below.
(1) Candidate's potential to contribute to the employing agency's program for environmental protection
(2) Relevant experience
(3) Academic and professional achievements.
The major factors to be considered by the panel are:
How do I structure paragraphs in a directive? A paragraph generally presents a single part or unit of development of the total subject covered by the directive. Paragraphs must relate to the overall subject and be arranged in logical sequence to provide continuity for the reader. Paragraphs should be structured in the following manner:
(1) Most major paragraphs may use the question-and-answer format using the bold font, a question mark, and only capitalizing the first word of the title.
(2) Subdivisions of paragraphs may be titled; however, if one subdivision within a paragraph is titled, all divisions within that paragraph are also titled.
(3) Subdivision titles use the bold font. They should not be underlined. Only links to Web sites are underlined.
(1) When a paragraph is subdivided, it must have at least two subdivisions. Each successive subdivision of a paragraph is indented.
(2) When a paragraph is subdivided, each subdivision is numbered and lettered for clarity. Place periods after letters or numbers in an outline format. Omit the periods when the letters or numbers are enclosed in parentheses or are underlined. The following illustrates the sequence of lettering and numbering to be used in FHWA directives:
Note: At the top of the directive, indents should be set between 0.2-0.5 inches. The indent should be consistent, which means that if 0.2 inches is used throughout the whole document, 0.2 inches should be used.
What is the purpose of this directive?
To issue guidance for the FHWA directives system.
To include Plain Language requirements.
(4) If introductory material precedes the subparagraphs, place a period (or question mark) after the bolded heading and begin the material on the same line after the heading.
What is the purpose of this directive? The purpose of this directive is to issue guidance for:
the FHWA directives system, and
Plain Language requirements.
(5) If all material within a heading is contained in a single paragraph, place a period (or question mark) after the bolded heading and begin the paragraph on the same line following the heading.
What is the purpose of this directive? The purpose of this directive is to issue guidance for the FHWA directives system and Plain Language requirements.
Spacing. Use single spacing for text and double spacing between paragraphs and subdivisions.
What are the rules governing different dates in directives?
Effective date. An effective date is the date when the directive is signed by the signing official. Leave the date blank until it is signed by the signing official and then type the date in. If the effective date differs from the issuance date of the directive, an explanation needs to be given in the directive.
What software is used in writing directives? All directives are typed in 12-point Arial font and must be prepared using the Agency's current baseline Word Processing Software.
How do I set margins and page numbers? Using .75 inch margins all around is a good guideline to use when writing a directive. A page number is put at the bottom of the directive.
How do I handle attachments and Web site links?
Attachments. They include appendices, tables, charts, and figures. Attachments should be listed at the end of the directive and are to be submitted to DM in separate files. The Web master will create links to the attachments. Links are also included in the text of the directive where the table, chart, etc. is mentioned. If the attachments are lengthy and highly technical, it is recommended that they are issued as stand alone documents and posted at the program office’s Web site, which will be linked to the approved directive. Doing so will make it possible for the program office to update the attachments without amending the directives.
Links. Text that is to be a link must be underlined so that the DM and Web team understand that it is a link. The OPI is responsible for providing the correct addresses or locations of Web links, for example: DOT Orders. The links will be placed at the end of the directive, as well as where they are mentioned in the text. In a lengthy directive, each chapter has a link.
How do I use references in a directive?
Example: paragraph 3a(1)(c); paragraphs 4a and 4b.
Note: Writers should double-check all references before submitting a draft directive to the DM.
What is the responsibility of the originating office, the OPI, or the designated directives liaison? It is the responsibility of the originating office, the OPI, or the designated directives liaison to follow the guidelines of this guide and those in the Government Printing Office Style Manual, which provides details in capitalization, spelling, punctuation, abbreviations, and other elements of composition. The originating office should submit the first draft to the DM in correct format.
Are there templates for Orders and Notices? Yes. Directives are issued using the appropriate template and format in the following downloadable templates.
(a) Notice template (HTML), Notice.doc (MS-Word)
(b) Order template (HTML), Order.doc (MS-Word)
Whom should I contact if I have additional questions about writing an FHWA directive? For additional questions, contact the DM for help.
What is the purpose of this chapter? This chapter provides the procedures for developing and processing a directive. The following paragraphs provide details in creating, reviewing, and canceling a directive. Following the procedures will ensure that directives activities are managed correctly and efficiently.
How do I create new directives?
The applicable program manager or the designated directives liaison identifies the need for a new directive and assigns it to the applicable OPI within their organization. The OPI will develop a draft directive following the guidelines in Chapter 2 of FHWA Directives Guide. The draft directive is submitted to HAIM-10 to:
(1) ensure directives system format standards are met, and
(2) be assigned a classification code by DM.
The DM reviews the draft directive and returns it to the OPI, and the OPI will:
(1) finalize the directive based on the comments or edits by the DM;
(2) use Spell Check and double-check that standards in Chapter 2 of FHWA Directives Guide are met;
(3) prepare a Summary Sheet for directives requiring signature by the Administrator, Deputy Administrator, Executive Director, or Director of Administration; and
(4) identify keywords for online search.
The OPI assembles the final package for the concurrence process and for signature of the Administrator or designee. The Executive Correspondence folder (Form FHWA-221, a blue folder) is used for the final directives package. For expedited directives, use Form FHWA-221A, (a red folder). Follow the following steps in assembling the final directive package.
(1) Print the Routing/or Review Slip, FHWA Form-111 and place it on the outside of the blue or red folder, Form FHWA-221. Follow the instructions on the Routing Slip and mark the appropriate areas for signatures.
(2) Place the Summary Sheet on top of the inside-left of the blue or red folder, over the yellow concurrence tab (Form FHWA-222B).
(3) Print the grid, Form DOT F1320.65, over the proposed directive, and place it at inside-left of the blue or red folder, under the yellow concurrence tab (Form FHWA-222B), with the grid on top of the proposed directive.
(4) Place background materials, if any, inside-left of the blue or red folder under the Background Tab (Form FHWA-222A). The background materials may include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) a copy of FHWA comments, and/or a summary of the FHWA coordination, along with an indication of the disposition of the comments;
(b) a copy of external comments, including those from within the DOT or from other Federal agencies, and a statement of the disposition of the comments;
(c) any other pertinent material, including email discussions; and
(d) a copy of the existing directive if it is to be canceled by the proposed directive.
(5) Place the original directive and any documents that are linked to the directive, such as attachments, on the inside-right of the blue or red folder. Use the "sign here" tabs to indicate where the signing official should sign. The final directive should be covered with the clear plastic "Executive Correspondence" cover.
What is the concurrence process?
HAIM-10 and the Office of Chief Counsel (HCC) must be included in the final concurrence process for signature. A review by additional organizational units, such as the Office of the Federal Highway Administrator (HOA) and a level other than HOA, may be appropriate for review and concurrence.
After obtaining signatures from HCC and appropriate signatures indicated on the routing slip or from officials in the areas of responsibility, OPI submits the entire final package in paper format and in electronic format via email to the DM for final review to ensure that the package is complete and that all coordination, format, and other requirements are met.
The DM signs off the grid and submits the proposed directive to HAIM-10 for signature. After HAIM-10 signs off, the concurrence package goes to the next higher level(s) for signature(s) and then returns to the OPI.
The OPI obtains the signature of the signing official and returns the entire final package to the DM.
Concurrences may be done electronically, such as via email. A printout of the electronic concurrences is placed under the grid and will be filed with the final package for official record keeping.
Offices that are requested to review and comment on proposed directives should give high priority to providing meaningful comments in a timely manner.
Note: For clearance requirements, see Chapter 1 of the FHWA Directives Guide.
How are new directives distributed?
Upon receiving signature from the signing official, the OPI returns the entire final package to DM in paper and electronic format. The electronic version includes a Word file and a PDF file, which are emailed to the DM.
The DM submits the electronic directive in Word and PDF format to the Web team to be posted on the FHWA Directives Web site. Final versions of directives should not be submitted to the Web team directly from the OPI; they will not be accepted by the Web team without going through the DM first. Only the DM forwards the approved directives to the Web team for hyper-text markup language (HTML) conversion and posting.
All approved FHWA directives are posted on the FHWA Directives Web site. Approved directives are also posted on the FHWA Home Page at What's New and under Recent Additions on the FHWA Directives Web site. FHWA does not print, mail, or store a bulk supply of paper directives for dissemination.
The newly established Federal-aid Highway Program Policy and Guidance Center (PGC) will provide links to the directives related to Federal-aid Highway Program.
Which offices retains the original directives? HAIM-10 is the official record keeper of the original directives. After the signing official signed the directive, the OPI returns the complete final package to DM for official record keeping.
How are existing directives amended?
The program manager (or the designated directives liaison) or the OPI identifies the need for changes to an existing directive.
Follow steps in paragraphs 2 and 3 in this chapter when making changes to the existing directives.
How are existing directives cancelled?
If the program manager (or the designated directives liaison) or the OPI determines the directive needs to be canceled and replaced by an amended directive, then
(1) issue a formal amendment to cancel and replace the directive; and
(2) ensure that the new directive identifies the classification code, title, and date of the directive that is being canceled or replaced.
Note: If a new directive is needed, follow steps in paragraphs 2 and 3 in this chapter.
If the directive is obsolete, then
(1) issue a formal directive to cancel the obsolete directive by following steps in paragraphs 2 and 3 in this chapter; and
(2) ensure that the obsolete directive is identified by classification code, title, and date.
HAIM-10 coordinates the removal of the cancelled directive to the archive site.
How are directives reviewed? Follow the guidelines in paragraph 7 of the FHWA Order 1321.1C, FHWA Directives Management. The OPI and the applicable program manager or designated directives liaison will review the directive to determine if it is still current or obsolete, or it requires updating, or it should be cancelled. The OPI will obtain concurrence from the applicable program manager or designated directives liaison prior to action.
If the directive is correct and will remain unchanged, the OPI, with the concurrence of the program manager or the designated directives liaison, notifies the DM the directive has been reviewed, does not require changes, and should remain in the directives system.
If the directive requires updating, the OPI, with the concurrence of program manager or the directives liaison develops an amendment.
If the directive is obsolete and should be cancelled, the OPI, with the concurrence of the program manager or the designated directives liaison, cancels the directive by following instructions in paragraph 7 “How to cancel existing directives?”
Additional help, please contact the DM.