- Briefing Room
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
FHWA Order 5020.2
|Stewardship and Oversight of Federal-Aid Projects Administered by Local Public Agencies (LPA)|
|Classification Code||Date||Office of Primary Interest|
|5020.2||August 14, 2014||HIPA-40|
Overview of Toolkit for Conducting a Program Assessment on the Oversight of Local Public Agency (LPA) Administered Federal-Aid Projects
A program assessment can serve as valuable input and support for the division office's stewardship and oversight responsibilities for the Federal-aid highway program. A program assessment also provides information to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on program status and risk from a local and national perspective. In addition, it is a tool that is used to identify strategies to improve program delivery, mitigate future risks, and/or achieve the program's future vision.
A program assessment tool can identify and provide information on the:
To be effective, the program assessment tool requires candid determinations on:
This program assessment toolkit facilitates the review, evaluation, and documentation of the efficiency and effectiveness of each program area and whether it operates in compliance with Federal laws, regulations, and policies. The toolkit is also an important link to the program risk assessment process and the strategic planning process.
Once program assessments are completed, specific activities/actions can be identified to address immediate and short-term concerns along with intermediate and longer term steps for potential program/process improvement. Thus, a program assessment becomes a living process providing the basis for assessing risk, compliance, identifying improvement opportunities, and recognizing state-of-the-art-practices.
Components of the LPA Stewardship and Oversight (S&O) Program Assessment Toolkit
Below is a list of the component attachments to the LPA S&O Program Assessment Toolkit and a brief explanation of their purpose:
Attachment B – Program Assessment of State Transportation Agency (STA) Stewardship and Oversight of Local Public Agency (LPA) Administered Projects
Part 1 - Overview Assessment of STA Oversight Framework for LPA- Administered Federal-Aid Projects (Context and Attributes)
The purpose of this portion of the attachment is to collect basic LPA S&O Program information within each STA. The basic information pertains to funding levels, number of LPA recipients, the stratification of project designations as established in the Fiscal Management Information System (FMIS), as well as answering a series of program-level questions to determine the context and attributes of an STA's overall LPA S&O administration capabilities. The results will be used to assess the relative risk level of the STA's operation. While it is noted that many of the questions that pertain to the context and attributes of a STA's LPA S&O Program are not associated with any specific prescriptive requirements; they do represent identified practices, when implemented that have demonstrated a reduction in risk and an increase in the level of compliance with Federal requirements.
Part 2 – Oversight Assessment of LPA-Administered Federal-Aid Projects – Program Compliance Overview
This portion of the attachment answers a series of program-level questions to determine the level of committed effort being made to assure compliance with Federal requirements. The results will be used to determine compliance levels that focus on the program-level requirements the STAs are to have in place to provide adequate oversight of LPA-administered Federal-aid projects. These requirements are stipulated in the March 28, 2014 FHWA Stewardship and Oversight Agreement Implementation Guidance.
Part 3 – Division's Conclusions
The final portion of the attachment is a focus on the division's conclusions as to the general status and condition of their respective STA's S&O program for LPA-administered projects after completing Parts 1 and 2.
Attachment C – Background Guidance on State Transportation Agency (STA) Oversight Roles and Responsibilities Relating to Local Public Agency (LPA) Administered Federal-aid Projects
This document provides background guidance on policies defining the roles and responsibilities of the STA in its stewardship and oversight of LPAs administering Federal-aid projects consistent with current statutory and regulatory authority. This guidance also references the specific program-level requirements of the STA's oversight responsibilities as delineated in the March 28, 2014 FHWA Stewardship and Oversight Agreement Implementation Guidance.
LPA S&O Program Assessment Toolkit Purpose and Methodology
The purpose of the LPA S&O Program Assessment Toolkit is to establish a consistent process/framework and format to evaluate the STA's oversight of LPA-administered Federal-aid projects as well as to assess the performance of the STA's population of LPAs that are allowed to administer Federal-aid projects.
The LPA-administered Federal-aid projects crosscut the entire program and support disciplines within the Federal-aid highway program as characterized by the project development and implementation process (i.e., planning, environment, right-of-way, design, construction, etc.). To facilitate compiling a national picture, the assessment framework is formatted as questionnaires with short responses (e.g., yes-no, multiple choice).
The LPA S&O Program Assessment Toolkit includes three primary aspects:
The first aspect involves the assessment of each STA's overall LPA S&O framework in terms of demographic, organizational attributes, and context information. This information determines the state-of-the-practice of an STA's LPA S&O and will serve as input into the division office's established risk management process. In addition, Headquarters (HIPA-40) will compile and analyze the information to determine program S&O trends and the potential risk exposure. The exposure to potential risk for LPA-administered Federal-aid projects varies widely because of the various institutional and inter-agency arrangements that exist in the States. This information is requested in Attachment B, Part 1.
The second aspect of the LPA S&O Program Assessment Toolkit is an assessment of the level of committed effort being made to assure compliance with each STA's LPA S&O. The questions are based on the identified oversight roles and responsibilities STA's have for LPA-administered Federal-aid projects. This compliance assessment is at the program level and is requested in Attachment B, Part 2.
The third aspect of the Toolkit is drawing conclusions based on the answers provided in the prior two aspects of the Toolkit. The conclusion section focuses on a determination of the STA's overall performance in terms of project delivery systems and funds management. The division will be required to assess the STA's general level of risk with respect to its LPA S&O Program.
The responses to many of the questions (seeAttachment B) are structured to ask respondents to indicate their answer on a five-step scale that varies by degrees using "firmly yes" and "firmly no" as extremes to a continuum. This stratification is designed to reflect the question element's true status and complexity, thus more accurately capturing the state-of-the-practice in a STA's LPA S&O Program (see Table 1).
Project Level Compliance Assessments
Project-level compliance assessments will be conducted through the use of the Compliance Assessment Program (CAP) (see CAP Guidance) and supplemented with a Corporate Review Guide for the LPA S&O Program. More detailed guidance on conducting the LPA corporate CAP review and how data will be compiled and reported will be provided separately. This guidance will include establishment of trigger mechanisms for plans of corrective action.
Plans of Corrective Action (PCAs)
The program assessment results that will trigger the need for PCAs are:
Questions in Attachment B, Parts 1, 2, and 3 identified as needing more in-depth planned reviews that cannot be completed in Performance Year 2015 (June 1, 2014, to May 30, 2015) due to other resource commitments. This need is generated for all questions in the assessments that are marked "NR" – Needs Reviewing.
Program-level compliance questions in Attachment B, Part 2 and 3 that failed to meet minimal compliance thresholds. This need is generated for all program-level compliance questions that are marked "Borderline" or below.
Results of project-level compliance assessments that indicate non-compliance on a systemic/statewide level as part of the LPA corporate CAP reviews. As noted above, more detailed guidance will be provided separately on the criteria that will trigger the need for PCAs.
Division offices whose assessments determine the need to develop and implement PCAs will use the current unit performance planning process (Integrated National Planning and Updating Tool (INPUT)). These corrective action plan elements need to be developed with input from STA and LPA partners.
All PCA tracking will be conducted through INPUT. Review activities are to use the review templates and tracking features of the Review Response Tracker feature under INPUT.
Table 1 - Answer Choice "Key"
Description of Responses to Questions in Questionnaire Set
Firmly Yes – Element in question is considered fully compliant and operating effectively by the STA/LPAs. The LPA S&O program is considered exceptional at the "state-of-the-art" level.
Mostly Yes – Element in question is determined to be in good shape but may be found in need of some minor improvements or show opportunities for program enhancements. Non-compliance issues are not systemic but more project specific. The LPA S&O program is generally considered state-of-the-practice.
Borderline – Element in question needs attention but has not been found to be programmatically fatal. Non-compliance issues reoccur in multiple projects but are not statewide. Corrective action is required and may warrant its inclusion in a formal action plan.
Mostly No – Significant issues need to be addressed. Problems may be systemic. Initiatives/action steps will need strong consideration to be included as part of an overall formal corrective action plan.
Firmly "No" – Major systemic issues of compliance and effectiveness need to be addressed. Further authorization of federally funded LPA projects may be under consideration for suspension. Initiative/action steps are to be included as part of an overall formal corrective action plan.
Needs Reviewing (NR) – Do not have sufficient information or knowledge to answer question confidently. This requires action steps to be included as part of an overall action plan.
Not Applicable (NA) – Element in question is not a part of an LPAs designated administrative responsibilities as established by the STA.