To aid Local Public Agencies (LPAs) through the complexities of the Federal-aid Highway Program's requirements and processes for establishing and administering Federal-aid projects, a three-pronged strategy has been developed to assist these local agencies.
First, to improve the Federal-aid projects administered by LPAs and mitigate the potential for noncompliance, State Transportation Agencies (STAs) have developed certification/qualification-type programs. These programs use criteria for LPAs to ensure that the LPA is certified and/or qualified to manage project activities that use federal-aid funds.
The benefits of a certification/qualification program are:
- Compliance: Limits LPAs that administer Federal-aid projects to those with the demonstrated qualifications and experience for handling projects.
- Risk mitigation: Reduces the program accountability risk and ensures projects follow federal regulations and guidelines.
- Resource reduction: Allows STAs to reduce oversight resource needs for LPA-administered projects.
- Local ownership: Allows certified LPAs to manage and own their projects.
Second, STAs and LPAs have the flexibility to use consultant services to manage, develop, and deliver the locally administered Federal-aid program and projects. Understanding these available options may allow agencies to lower project costs, shorten project development and delivery times, improve the quality and performance of contracted services, and ensure projects meet the necessary Federal and State requirements. The approach taken to manage a STA's local program or to develop and deliver specific LPA administered projects will depend on a range of factors (e.g., State laws; STA local program policies and resources; and LPA resources).
The STA manages the IDIQ and has the responsibility for ensuring the decisions that affect contract/order performance. The STA also ensures the conditions of performance are consistent with the contract/order and assures that the selection process will meet Federal consultant-selection requirements.
STAs are encouraged to develop and specify the policies, procedures, and training to support LPAs in determining when to use consultant services, what services may be needed, and which procurement methods and contracting options may be appropriate. To advance the use of consultant services for local programs and projects, STAs may:
- Prequalify consultants to facilitate LPAs contracting for services to develop and deliver projects;
- Procure and contract with consultants to provide services to be managed by LPAs to develop and deliver projects;
- Procure, manage, and administer consultant services to develop and deliver projects on behalf of or at the direction of the LPA; or
- Contract with consultants to assist in managing, monitoring, and administering its local program.
Third, communication, coordination and cooperation are the keys to successfully implementing any funding program. Clarity of the FHWA's requirements in conjunction with the State's requirements is also paramount, especially with LPA-administered Federal-aid projects. To aid in this partnering effort and collaboration goal, a "Stakeholder Committee" comprised of FHWA, STA and LPA representatives may be established to ensure dialogs of understanding are created, to ensure appropriate training is provided, and to review and refine project development and delivery processes.