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Improvements to Stewardship and Oversight Agreements Are Needed To Enhance Federal-aid Highway Program Management

Self-initiated
Project ID: 
MH2013001

On October 1, 2012, we issued a report on Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Stewardship and Oversight Agreements with States.  FHWA uses these agreements, which are required by law, to formalize the roles and responsibilities of FHWA Division Offices and the States to ensure adequate oversight of Federal funds, project quality, and safety.  We conducted the review as part of our ongoing ARRA oversight work. We found that while FHWA fulfilled the statutory mandate to enter into Agreements with each State, the Agreements do not consistently reflect Federal requirements, or program risks and priorities that FHWA has identified.  Further, FHWA has not provided sufficient guidance and oversight to Division Offices for the development and update of Agreements to ensure that inconsistencies reflect valid differences among the States and to ensure that legal issues are identified.  FHWA concurred with one recommendation and partially concurred with the remaining four recommendations. We will close two of the recommendations, pending receipt of appropriate documentation of actions taken or planned.  For the remaining three recommendations, we are requesting additional information and action dates to fully assess FHWA’s plans for improving the use of agreements.

Recommendations

Open

Closed

Closed on 03.10.2016
No. 1 to FHWA

Establish basic Agreement requirements and standards that include Federal requirements, FHWA program risks, and priorities; require Division Offices to document their rationale for not addressing significant requirements, risks, and priorities in their Agreements; and require DFS approval for such actions.

Closed on 07.17.2014
No. 2 to FHWA

Modify FHWA's policy of pre-approval of new or reconstruction projects on the Interstate Highway System that cost $1 million or more, to meet statutory requirements for FHWA to perform oversight of these projects.

Closed on 08.03.2015
No. 3 to FHWA

Implement a coordinated and effective data-driven, risk-based approach for Division Offices and Directors of Field Services to review Agreements annually and make timely revisions, when appropriate.

No. 4 to FHWA

Enforce the requirement for Directors of Field Services to sign Agreements, as specified in FHWA's Delegation and Organization Manual, or change the Delegation and Organization Manual to allow Division Administrators to sign the Agreements and require Directors of Field Services to formally document elsewhere that they reviewed and approved the Agreements.

Closed on 07.17.2014
No. 5 to FHWA

Develop and implement a process for FHWA to conduct a legal expert review of Agreements, before they are signed, to determine whether Agreements are in accordance with Federal law.