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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 an overview of the guidelines for HPA review, social media, and media relations. The applicable laws, rules, and FHWA policies are as follows:


In addition to the standard research reports, technical flyers, and brochures, there are many other ways to disseminate research results and information about the activities and accomplishments of FHWA R&T.

As stated several times within this guidance, any communication provided to an external audience must be reviewed by HPA. Prior to writing and submitting a document or other communications vehicle like a video, the researcher must submit FHWA Forms 1113 and 1528 to HRTM. HRTM will submit the information and forms to HPA for review and approval. See appendixes S and T for a copy of the forms.

HPA Review of External Trade Magazine and Journal Articles

All articles for external periodicals (e.g., trade or scientific journals) must be sent by HRTM to HPA for review, possible editing, and distribution by HPA. Prior to writing and submitting an article, the researcher must submit FHWA Forms 1113 and 1528 to HRTM and HRTM, in turn, will submit the information to HPA for review and approval. See appendixes S and T for a copy of the forms.

Before submission to HPA, the external trade journal article must have the written endorsement of the appropriate office director, indicating that the release or article is accurate, is consistent with USDOT policies and positions, addresses sensitive or timely issues, and is appropriate for mass dissemination.

Because publication in trade magazines or journals requires a longer lead time than placement in newspapers or broadcast media, authors should contact the HPA media relations staff for publishing deadlines.

Trade Magazine or Journal Articles: Do Not Sign Any Forms or Agreements

After receiving final approval from the HRTM HPA liaison, articles may be submitted to a trade publication—either by HPA or by the research employee (with permission from HPA). FHWA employees who write articles are not permitted to sign forms or agreements on behalf of the Federal Government unless they have documented written authority to commit the agency to a legal and binding agreement. Instead, the Office of Chief Counsel approved a letter template that can be signed by a researcher and used to accompany the submission of a journal article in lieu of signing an agreement (see appendix U). Please consult with HRTM or the Office of Chief Counsel for more information.


FHWA uses social media to inform multiple audiences about current and completed projects and initiatives. Other uses include recruiting potential employees, promoting events, and sharing photographs and video clips from recent events and speaking engagements. Social media is a channel through which the agency engages readers, builds interest, and seeks public feedback and input.

FHWA has a Facebook® page, a YouTube® channel, a Twitter® account, a Flickr® account, and a LinkedIn® account. (See references 65 through 69.)

FHWA Social Media Policy

When considering the use of social media for FHWA communication, please refer to the following directive for FHWA’s social media policy.(70)

1. What Is FHWA’s Policy Concerning Social Media/Web 2.0?

a. Account Management

1) HPA is the authorized office responsible for the approval, management, maintenance, and governance of all FHWA Social Media/Web 2.0 accounts. All accounts created on third-party Social Media/Web 2.0 technologies for purposes of official communications will be approved, governed, and centrally managed by HPA.

2) To comply with the provisions of DOT Order 1351.33, FHWA may only use technologies approved by OCIO and listed in the Social Media/Web 2.0 technologies catalog maintained by that office.

3) This directive does not apply to existing FHWA Communities of Practice. However, existing or new Communities of Practice that incorporate or intend to incorporate Social Media/Web 2.0 components (e.g., blogs, wikis, and YouTube®) must be discussed, reviewed, and approved by HPA prior to implementation.

b. Content Management

1) All content to be shared on FHWA Social Media/Web 2.0 sites by FHWA employees and contractors must be approved by HPA prior to posting.

2) All FHWA Social Media/Web 2.0 sites shall comply with the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and all the applicable provisions of the Departmental Web Policy, DOT Order 1351.24.

3) To ensure adequate access for individuals who prefer not to use Social Media/Web 2.0 sites to communicate with or obtain information and services from FHWA, equivalent content posted to a third-party platform must be available on an official “.gov” site, and visitors to the third-party platform must be properly directed to the official “.gov” site to find equivalent content.

4) All approved FHWA third-party Social Media/Web 2.0 sites must, to the extent practical, display or direct visitors to:

a) An official FHWA “.gov” website for official information (e.g., www.fhwa.dot).

b) The Citizen Conduct Policy in DOT Order 1351.33, when Social Media/Web 2.0 technology allows for additional citizen conduct requirements (i.e., comment policies, take-down notices, terms of use, etc.), whether hosted on or outside a “.gov” website address. The Citizen Conduct Policy establishes general guidelines for participating in the use of FHWA-maintained Social Media/Web 2.0 sites.

5) If the third-party Social Media/Web 2.0 site is used to invite feedback, an official FHWA email address where users can also send feedback shall be provided. An official FHWA telephone number and/or mailing address may also be provided.

a) Privacy Management. FHWA third-party Social Media/Web 2.0 technologies shall follow the privacy policies outlined in DOT Order 1351.24, paying particular attention to complying with requirements to collect the minimum information necessary.

b) Information Collection Requests/Paperwork Reduction Act

6) When FHWA uses a “general suggestion/comment box” to generate feedback and does not request respondent identification beyond a username and email address, OMB approval is not required.

7) When there is a need to solicit feedback from the public using a Social Media/Web 2.0 technology, an approval from OMB is required if:

a) FHWA requests information from respondents beyond names and email addresses (e.g., age, sex, race/ethnicity, mailing address, employment, or citizenship status).

b) FHWA asks the public to respond to a series of specific questions or a series of specific prompts that gather information (e.g., for purposes of aggregation or survey).

c. Records Management. Official FHWA business information stored on Social Media/Web 2.0 sites are considered Federal records and must be managed accordingly. Refer to 44 U.S.C. 3301 for a definition of Federal records, 36 CFR 1236 for general guidance on electronic records management, and National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Bulletin 2011-02 for guidance on managing records in Social Media/Web 2.0 technologies.

d. Intellectual Property. FHWA employees and contractors may not use or post copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright owner. FHWA-owned images and videos used in an agency context do not constitute copyright infringement and may be used wherever appropriate, given HPA’s approval. (See DOT Order 1351.33 for Departmental policy on Intellectual Property).

e. Employee Conduct

1) FHWA employees shall follow the Employee Conduct Policy in DOT Order 1351.33. Failure to comply with this policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including removal from Federal service.

2) When using Social Media, FHWA employees are bound by the same conduct and ethical rules that apply to offline conduct, including those under 5 CFR 2635.

3) FHWA employees and contractors have no expectation of privacy for any communications executed on Government-owned equipment, whether the communications are made by employees in their official or personal capacities.

f. Citizen Conduct. While FHWA encourages the submission of comments on transportation-related issues from the public, FHWA expects communications to follow conventions of civil discourse. Therefore, FHWA will follow the Citizen Conduct Policy in DOT Order 1351.33.


When a manager or researcher needs to reach a more specific audience or the public, it may be appropriate to seek further outreach in a press release, an interview, or through publication in trade journals. Conversely, members of the press often contact researchers directly for technical commentary. Establishing and conducting media relations, writing news releases, participating in interviews, and publishing in trade journals require approval from HPA. Please refer such inquiries to them at 202-366-0660.

If a reporter contacts you, refer them to HPA (202-366-0660) immediately.

If possible, please follow up with an email to the Associate Administrator for Public Affairs or the Senior Media Relations Specialist in HPA.



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