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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-15-058    Date:  February 2017
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-15-058
Date: February 2017


Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center R&D Communication Reference Guide


This chapter provides details regarding the electronic publishing process. The applicable laws, rules and FHWA policies are as follows:

Electronic publishing refers to any document or published item that is not printed on paper. Examples are digital versatile disks (DVDs), Web pages, websites, publications, and multimedia presentations (such as Microsoft® PowerPoint presentations containing slides, sounds, and movies/videos such as .avi or .mov files).


Multimedia options that provide special graphic enhancement, multimedia effects, or interactive applications can be prepared. If you need special video or audio effects for a presentation, video wall, or other item, contact the Office of Information Technology Services (HAIS) or HRTM for assistance. Keep in mind that multimedia presentations such as Microsoft® PowerPoint, videos, and .mov files must also be compliant with Section 508, and they follow a different set of rules than those used for Web page or database software applications.(14,24) See the Access Board’s Section 508 website for more information.(33)

HTML format is the required electronic format for all FHWA publications. It can be used to create a range of document styles, from simple, text-only items to those with elaborate graphics. Documents in HTML format adapt to different screen sizes and computer characteristics. In addition, HTML documents are easily searchable by Internet search engines and can be used by assistive devices, such as screen readers that “read” the code on a Web page and translate it into audio format for people who have vision disabilities. See information about DVDs below and for website publishing.

Adobe® Acrobat PDF files can be prepared for a publication in addition to HTML format. If you want users to be able to print your document on their desktop printers so that it looks exactly like the original, consider also providing a PDF file. However, PDF files do not adapt as readily to individual computer formats nor are they considered “accessible” files for complying with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.(14)

For every publication created as an Adobe® Acrobat PDF file, there also should be a Section 508-compliant HTML document.(21) This is a requirement for files on the Internet or StaffNet. If a PDF file or other format is desired, it may be prepared and posted on an FHWA website along with the HTML version of the publication.(21)

The following guidelines for reviewing final Adobe® Acrobat PDF documents are recommended:


Policy Implications

The office director or designate is responsible for making sure that external presentations and videos are in agreement with management policies and approved by HPA.


Timeframes for presentations developed in-house are the responsibility of the requesting office. When using HRTM services, expect about 4 weeks for turnaround for presentations, depending on length and scope of presentation. See table 6 for the list of submission requirements for Microsoft® PowerPoint presentations. Videos can take months to complete.

Prior to performing a video shoot, you must provide a video script and a completed FHWA Form 1113 to HRTM, who in turn will submit the information to HPA for review and approval. A storyboard depicting a visual representation of the storyline also would be helpful.

Prior to publicly releasing a video or presentation, researchers and authors must provide the final version in a completed FHWA Form 1528 to HRTM, who will submit the information to HPA for review and approval.

In addition to the above submission requirements and depending on the product and distribution of that product, other Section 508 guidelines may also apply.(14) For example, a video in a presentation may fall under Video and Multimedia Products under the Access Board’s Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section.(24,33)

Any multimedia file also must include software applications to run or view it (i.e., movie or media players, browsers, Adobe® Acrobat Readers, Microsoft® PowerPoint readers, Microsoft® Word readers, etc.) as links or executable zipped download files on the website, DVD, and the software also must follow Software Applications and Operating Systems guidelines under the Access Board’s Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section.(23,33)

Presentations and videos accessible through an HTML or other Web interface must follow Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications guidelines under the Access Board’s Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section.(22,24,33)

If the electronic information or multimedia is presented on an unmanned kiosk such as at a trade show or event, the equipment may be considered a “standalone kiosk” and as such may fall under Self Contained, Closed Products under the Access Board’s Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section.(26,33)

Program offices are responsible for ensuring that videos are captioned to comply with Section 508.

Table 6. Microsoft® PowerPoint presentations, movies, videos—what to submit.

Steps What to Submit Videos (MPEG, AVI) Audio (MP3) Photos (JPG) Multimedia (PPT, MPEG)


Video or audio script for HPA review prior to video shoot


FHWA 1113
Clearance Request for Public Materials Video, Print, Web, Social Media, or Multimedia Form for HPA review prior to video shoot


HRTM Service Request Form


FHWA 1528 Form Authorization to Proceed for Public Materials. Materials Video, Print, Web, Social Media, or Multimedia Form for HPA review and approval prior to releasing the video or presentation for distribution.


508 captions for nontext elements in Microsoft® Word file for editing


Originating file format (i.e., AVI, MOV, etc.)


Accessibility according to Section 508(13)

—Submission not required.


Website publishing can be used as a primary route of publication, a secondary source of publication, or as a supplemental source of information. (See references 50, 52, 11, 53, and 14.) The Web provides an electronic medium that offers graphical interface, instantaneous transmission, and multimedia presentation materials. Website publishing is especially useful for documents containing information that needs to be issued quickly, and many agencies are publishing only on the Web. Because all publications must be in electronic format, make sure that your specifications for your electronic publication include Section 508 guidelines.(12,14) Keep in mind that a high-quality Web design can be just as costly as a printed design.

Web projects may face posting delays due to the number of complex tables, equations, and figures; the number of pages; missing 508 captions; the researcher’s final review; and other jobs in the queue at the same time.

Website Requirements

The FHWA Chief Information Officer (CIO) must approve both new FHWA websites and the purchase and use of new website domain names (www.webname.gov). To provide transparency, it is the CIO’s policy to have all websites under a .gov domain. In addition, HAIS must approve the final HTML code and design before any websites are posted “live.” Any new content, major updates to content, and redesigned content must be approved by HPA prior to public release.

Contractors and FHWA personnel who will perform HTML coding or will accept a final deliverable composed of HTML files are required to ensure that, after editing, all HTML files are coded according to both FHWA requirements and the requirements of the Access Board and FHWA’s minimum requirements.(21,14,19) Contact HRTM for more information.

Minimum Requirements for FHWA Web Pages

Please contact HRTM for specific Web page requirements before creating or preparing material for the research website. Electronic publishing guidelines frequently evolve or change as a result of legislation and the dynamic development of electronic communications technologies. For this reason, HPA and HAIS Web group must review all new materials.

In an effort to achieve greater quality, usability, and consistency, the Information Technology Division has established the following minimum technical standards that must be met by all FHWA Web pages; Web documents that do not meet these standards will not be posted:(21)

HRTM also will assist the researcher with their request and work with them and HAIS to process the website request. If a contractor is preparing the material for Web publishing, the COR must ensure that the contractor has received the most current set of guidelines from HRTM before starting the HTML programming phase.

Technical Review

Each office should establish its own process for reviewing documents for technical soundness, accuracy, and adherence to policy; this process should contain the necessary checks and balances and coordination with other appropriate offices and individuals to ensure that FHWA continues to publish high-quality materials. The office director is responsible for all content related to his/her office and functional areas for which he/she is responsible.

See table 7 for the list of submission requirements for Web-only communication products.


OMB, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, must approve all surveys to be disseminated to the public in electronic or nonelectronic format, whether the surveys appear in documents or are conducted in other forums such as focus groups, interviews, test groups, or telephone surveys.(11) The Paperwork Reduction Act clearance is required when standardized data collection from 10 or more respondents is collected in response to a Federally sponsored data collection within a 1-year period.(11) The “Paperwork Reduction Act clearance” is the term used for the process of obtaining approval from OMB for Federally sponsored data collections as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act.(11)

OMB was originally granted this authority in 1940 under the Federal Reports Act.(55) Due to increasing complaints from the public about duplicate and lengthy Federal Government data collections, Congress passed the Paper Reduction Act of 1980, which was reissued in 1995.(11) The purpose of the act remains to ensure that Federal agencies do not overburden the public with Federally sponsored data collections.(11)

Privacy Act

The Privacy Act (Title 5 U.S Code 552a), passed by Congress in 1974, establishes certain controls over what personal information is collected and maintained by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government and how the information is used.(50,56) The act grants certain rights to an individual on whom records are maintained and assigns responsibilities to an agency that maintains the information.

The entire USDOT workforce (Federal and contracted employees) is subject to the Privacy Act and must comply with all of its provisions.(50) Noncompliance with the Privacy Act carries criminal and civil penalties.(50)

What are USDOT’s Responsibilities Under the Privacy Act?

USDOT’s responsibilities under the Privacy Act are as follows:(50)

What Rights are Granted Individuals Under the Privacy Act?

Under the act, individuals are granted the right to do the following:(50)

Which Individuals are Covered by the Privacy Act?

The Privacy Act applies only to records collected and maintained on living individuals who are U.S. citizens or lawfully admitted aliens, whose records are filed in a “system of records” where those records are retrieved by a personal identifier.(50)

What Records are Subject to the Privacy Act?

Records subject to the Privacy Act are those about an individual collected and maintained in a “system of records.”(50) A system of records is a group of records that have the following in common:

What Are PII and Sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (SPII)?

PII is information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, such as their name, SSN, biometric records, etc., alone or when combined with other personal or identifying information that is linked or linkable to a specific individual, such as date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc.

Certain PII, while not sensitive PII, may be Sensitive Security Information (SSI) under 49 CFR Part 15 or 49 CFR Part 1520.(57,58) PII that is SSI must be maintained, disseminated, and destroyed in accordance with this policy, the Privacy Act (if applicable), and the applicable SSI requirements at 49 CFR Part 15 or 1520.(50,57,58)

SPII is a subset of PII that, if lost, compromised, or disclosed without authorization, could result in substantial harm, embarrassment, inconvenience, or unfairness to an individual. SPII requires stricter handling guidelines because of the increased risk to an individual if the data are compromised.

The following PII is always (de facto) sensitive, with or without any associated personal information, and cannot be treated as low confidentiality:

The following information is SPII when associated with an individual:

In addition to de facto SPII, some PII may be deemed sensitive based on context. For example, a list of employee names is not SPII; however, a list of employees’ names and their performance rating would be considered SPII.

The following PII is not sensitive alone or in combination unless documented with sensitive qualifying information and may be treated as low confidentiality:

Federal employee name, work contact information, grade, salary, and position are not considered PII. Except for limited circumstances, this information is publically available and is not considered sensitive.(59) For more information, go to FHWA’s privacy policy page.(59)

Freedom of Information Act

Based on the principle that an informed public is essential to the democratic process, the Freedom of Information Act, which can be found at Title 5 §552 of the U.S. Code, requires Federal agencies to make agency records available to the public either proactively or in response to a request, subject to certain conditions and exceptions.(10) The Freedom of Information Act includes nine exemptions and three exclusions that permit an agency to withhold a record in part or in full in limited circumstances.(10) The Federal Freedom of Information Act does not provide a right of access to records held by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Courts, or State or local Government agencies or by private businesses or individuals.(10)

Federal Acquisition Regulations

The Federal Acquisition Regulations affect publishing content, copyright ownership, licensing, patents, photography, illustrations, and other items that are represented in a document provided to FHWA through a contract deliverable.(51) For example, Federal Acquisition Regulation Subpart 27.4—Rights in Data and Copyrights in a contract can affect whether FHWA or a contractor owns a photo taken during a research study.(60) Another Federal Acquisition Regulation clause may affect whether FHWA may post software code on a website.(51,61) For more information, consult with HRTM, the FHWA Office of Acquisition and Grants Management, or the Office of Chief Counsel.(60,61)

Table 7. Web-only communication products—what to submit.

What to Submit Reports Other Communication Products

HRTM Service Request Form

Microsoft® Word file of document(s)

Microsoft® Word file of 508 captions

Foreword and disclaimer

Completed Technical Report Documentation Page (Form DOT F 1700.7)

Metric chart

Tables, charts, and graphs in separate native file formats (Microsoft® Excel files for tables and .jpg or .tif files for graphic and CAD files)

Illustrations, figures, and equations in .jpg or .bmp file formats

FHWA’s HTML coding template with proper headers and footers for reports. Reports must be coded using these HTML headers and footers

PDF file of the document after final edit

Document falls under Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications under the Access Board’s Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section.(22,33)

—Submission not required.



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Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101