The nature of Federal agencies’ projects and programs impacts how frequently they conduct voluntary acquisitions. The differences between agency projects and programs also manifest in the types of challenges that agencies face when conducting voluntary acquisitions. However, the project stakeholders identified a number of shared best practice approaches to simplify and streamline compliance with the voluntary acquisition requirements.
Federal agencies should ensure that all staff involved in acquisitions are adequately trained in the URA, including voluntary acquisition requirements. In addition, agencies that deal with funding recipients should develop training protocols or technical assistance to ensure that all stakeholders are knowledgeable about what is required. Further, agencies should consider developing a voluntary acquisition guide and toolkit that provides checklists, sample forms and other tools to help ensure that the voluntary acquisition process is correctly followed.
Several of the agencies interviewed provide training and guidance materials to their staff and funding recipients. For example, the FAA developed the document, Lessons Learned: Solutions to Common Problems and Needs, which outlines the preferred solution and FAA requirements for common problems faced in real property acquisitions for airport projects. HUD provides training through its Headquarters and Regional Relocation Specialists, webinars, and Notice of Funding Availability broadcasts. HUD also maintains a website with comprehensive information about real estate acquisition and relocation, including information on the differences between voluntary and involuntary acquisition of property. HUD’s Handbook 1378,- Real Estate Acquisition and Relocation Policy and Guidance, provides comprehensive information on HUD’s official policy and guidance on voluntary acquisitions.
Several agencies have developed compliance documentation formats and standards to help ensure consistency across the agency and its funding recipients. For example, HUD has created a number of guide forms for funding recipients to use to help them satisfy some of the voluntary acquisition requirements. There are different guide forms to use depending upon whether the agency has eminent domain authority or not. The guide forms are generic, and may not be applicable to every situation a grantee might be facing.