FHWA Major Project Guidance Memorandum
Section 1904 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) amended 23 U.S.C. 106 and made several significant changes to the requirements for Major Projects. The monetary threshold for classification as a Major Project was lowered from an estimated total cost of $1 billion to $500 million or greater. A Project Management Plan (PMP) and a Finance Plan are required for all Major Projects. In addition, projects with a total cost between $100 million and $500 million, while not classified as Major Projects, require the preparation of Finance Plans that must be made available to FHWA upon request. A memo dated January 19, 2007 announces the issuance of this final guidance, which includes a series of questions and answers to provide guidance for complying with the Major Projects requirements.
These annual summary reports document the activities of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as related to major projects for each Fiscal Year (FY). The FHWA takes an active leadership role in advancing transportation initiatives through the stewardship and oversight of major projects, which are defined as those with a total cost greater than $500 million. The annual summary documents the performance of active major projects and the actions FHWA has taken to improve their performance.
Based on the growing number of major projects that meet the legislative threshold for the Major Projects process, the USDOT Office of the Inspector General initiated an audit of FHWA's oversight of financial plans and project management plans for major projects managed by States. The audit determined whether FHWA (1) verified that States' initial and updated financial plans and project management plans met basic requirements, (2) consistently evaluated major project financial plans and project management plans in accordance with its guidance, and (3) had sufficient guidance in key areas or controls to ensure implementation of plan agreements.4 In addition, based on congressional interest, we obtained the views of FHWA officials and States on their use and the potential benefits of innovative methods and MAP-21 provisions to accelerate delivery of major projects. The audit is based on a review of five major projects and includes recommendations to improve FHWA's oversight of major project financial plans and project management plans. The audit also identifies issues that would apply to major projects across FHWA, including guidance and oversight controls.
This document from October 2005 identifies the kinds of questions that an FHWA Division Administrator should be asking early in the project planning process when upon becoming aware of a major project taking shape in his or her state. These questions should be revisited periodically, as the project becomes further refined throughout the Planning and Environmental stages.
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. 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. The report can also be accessed at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/stewardship/. 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 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.
Large Project Management and Oversight Report to: The Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and General Government and the House Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies
This report dated May 15, 2003 responds to a request from the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference accompanying the 2003 Consolidated Appropriations Resolution that FHWA develop a strategy for achieving a more multi-disciplinary approach towards large project management and oversight activities.