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FHWA Infrastructure: Providing For America's Mobility
Office of Program Administration: Bringing You the Tools and Technologies You Need
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From contract administration to the use of Federal-aid highway funds to such preconstruction activities as performing value engineering (VE), the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Office of Program Administration provides tools and expert assistance to aid highway agencies and others in successfully carrying out Federal-aid highway programs.
The office's Federal-aid Programs group provides technical assistance in using Federal-aid highway funds, including for such categories as Interstate maintenance and rehabilitation, emergency relief for natural disasters and other catastrophic events, the Appalachian Development Highway System, ferry boat programs, and demonstration projects. The Federal-aid group also assists in developing, analyzing, and interpreting national highway legislation.
Looking at preconstruction, the office develops national policies, standards, criteria, and guides on highway design and provides assistance in such areas as utility accommodations and VE. Achieving greater cooperation between utility companies and transportation agencies can reduce utility-related disruptions, minimize costs, and accelerate construction.
VE, meanwhile, focuses on reviewing a planned highway project's features and looking for ways to improve quality, foster innovation, and lower owner costs. To assist States in implementing VE, FHWA provides training and technical assistance, including a 4- to 5-day course for highway agencies. The course offers an overview of the VE process, as well as the opportunity for course participants to split into teams and analyze actual highway projects in their State, using the VE principles that they have learned.
The office's Preconstruction group also provides support to States as they implement context sensitive solutions (CSS) for highway projects. With CSS, the goals of ensuring safety and mobility when designing and constructing a road or bridge are enhanced by fully considering measures to preserve environmental, community, scenic, and historic resources.
The Contract Administration group provides technical assistance and guidance on Federal-aid construction contract provisions, procedures, policies, and requirements. This assistance includes teaching a course on Contract Administration for Federal-aid recipients. The course is presented an average of 15-20 times a year. The Contract Administration group also provides guidance on FHWA's Buy America program, alternative contracting, and claims avoidance and mitigation.
The Contract Administration group also assists States with the implementation of design-build contracting. The design-build method assigns both design and construction responsibilities to one firm, allowing some construction work to begin before the design is completed. This compares to the traditional design-bid-build method, where the design and construction aspects of a project are bid separately. In addition to saving time, design-build contracting often reduces a highway agency's administration and inspection costs and can reduce or eliminate change orders and claims resulting from errors and omissions during construction.
The Major Projects group provides technical assistance and guidance for Major Projects, which are projects with a total cost of more than $500 million or as designated by the Secretary of Transportation. The group provides guidance and assistance in cost estimating, development of project management plans, and development of finance plans. In addition, the group monitors the status of all major projects, provides prior concurrence in the approval of project management plans and finance plans as appropriate, and develops and delivers training.
Finally, a Stewardship/Oversight group assists States with risk assessments and stewardship/oversight agreements. The group is working with FHWA's leadership to develop a corporate risk management framework as a management and communication tool. The group is also developing an agency stewardship/ oversight agreement template to provide a consistent approach to developing stewardship/oversight agreements.
As we work to provide the tools and assistance vital to carrying out Federal-aid highway programs, we value our long-standing partnerships with States, industry, and others, and look forward to strengthening those collaborations in the future. Together we can continue to improve the safe, cost-effective highway system that our Nation and its economy depend upon from coast to coast every day.