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General: Manual for Oversight Managers


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General. Major (or Mega) projects are defined as projects with an estimated total cost greater than $1.0 billion, or projects approaching $1.0 billion with a high level of interest by the public, Congress, or the Administration. FHWA senior management will designate which projects will be considered Major projects due to a high level of interest. By nature, major projects are especially complex and involved, both from a project management and financial management perspective. Therefore, each FHWA Major project will have a designated Oversight Manager, who will act as the Agency's focal point in the overall project administration and oversight, in analyzing information concerning the status of the project, in the review and acceptance of the Financial Plans, and in providing status reports to FHWA's top management. The FHWA Resource Manual for Oversight Managers is intended to provide the necessary guidance, training resources, tools, and best practices to assist the Oversight Managers in effectively carrying out these duties on their Major projects.

The FHWA Resource Manual for Oversight Managers has been prepared by the Headquarter's Major Projects Team. The Major Projects Team is in the Office of Infrastructure, Office of Program Administration. The Major Projects Team is available to assist the Oversight Managers throughout the life of the project in the review of Financial Plans; in providing assistance and assessing areas of risk dealing with finances, project management, contract administration, and public relations; in providing assistance in FHWA independent verification of cost estimates; and in communicating with the Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Secretary's Office, FHWA's top management, and other outside agencies. The FHWA Resource Manual for Oversight Managers is intended to be a living document, updated on a periodic basis to include the latest information available to assist the Oversight Managers. Revision dates will be so noted at the end of each chapter.

DOT Major Project Oversight Task Force Report. In December 2000, the Department of Transportation completed the Report of the One-DOT Task Force on Oversight of Large Transportation Infrastructure Projects (Insert IA). The report was commissioned by the Secretary of Transportation to develop a One-DOT process to ensure effective and comprehensive oversight and monitoring of major transportation infrastructure projects. Both near-term recommendations (designated as A, B, and C recommendations) and long-term recommendations requiring potential legislative changes (designated as L recommendations) were included in the report. Included in the near-term recommendations was for each modal agency to designate a Mega project Oversight Manager for each large scale project who is responsible to senior operating officials, and who demonstrates extensive experience in overseeing large projects (Recommendation B.1). To facilitate the Oversight Manager's responsibilities, the report recommended the establishment of core competencies and a development of training materials and providers for all managers (Recommendation B.2). B.4 recommended that sound project management oversight be strongly promoted, C.1 recommended that project management plans be submitted on Major projects, and C.2 recommended that written interagency project agreements be entered into on Major projects. In addition, C.3 recommended that periodic, independent reviews be done under the direction of the Oversight Manager to ensure that the recipient has the capability to efficiently and effectively complete the major project without compromising the Federal government. After the completion of the DOT Task Force Report on the Oversight of Major Transportation Projects, an FHWA policy was then needed to establish the specific requirements from the report that would be implemented (see FHWA Major Project Implementation Plan below).

FHWA Stewardship and Oversight Task Force Report. In March 2001, FHWA completed the FHWA Stewardship/Oversight Task Force Final Report (Insert IB). The report can also be accessed at The task force was charged with re-framing our national guidance on the stewardship and oversight of FHWA programs and projects. The Stewardship and Oversight Task Force Report was also timely in regards to DOT Recommendation C.3 by discussing independent review and verification responsibilities for all FHWA projects. In summary, the report defined the policy as FHWA having stewardship and oversight responsibilities for all Federally funded programs, regardless of project approval authorities assumed by the State Transportation Agencies (STA). The FHWA must conduct verification activities to ensure that the STA implementation of the Federal highway programs conforms with established laws, regulations, and policies; and that the STA is carrying out its roles and responsibilities according to established agreement with the FHWA. It has been made clear that our partnership with the States must take a "trust but verify" approach in order for FHWA to effectively perform its stewardship and oversight responsibilities, thereby protecting the Federal investment.

FHWA Major Project Implementation Plan. In October 2001, FHWA completed an FHWA Implementation Plan (see Insert IC) to improve the management of major projects, by incorporating specific recommendations made from the DOT Task Force Report on the Oversight of Major Transportation Projects, the FHWA Stewardship and Oversight Task Force Report, and experiences gained in the administration of current major projects. The plan assigned lead personnel and implementation dates to each of the recommendations contained in the DOT report. The FHWA Implementation Plan is being monitored by the Headquarters Major Projects Team to ensure that all feasible recommendations from the DOT report are in fact being implemented.

The FHWA Resource Manual for Oversight Managers has now been prepared in order to fulfill the specific recommendations made in the FHWA Implementation Plan, and provides the FHWA Oversight Manager with a practical reference in implementing the required oversight duties.

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