FHWA Met Basic Requirements but Can Strengthen Guidance and Controls for Financial and Project Management Plans
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides financial assistance and oversight to States’ high-cost and complex major projects with an estimated cost of $500 million or more. In 2013, FHWA reported that States had 103 active major projects, totaling approximately $143.7 billion. States are required by Federal law to prepare project management plans and annual financial plans for each of their major projects. These plans are intended to provide timely information needed to effectively manage major projects’ scope, cost, and schedule, and ensure that projects meet applicable Federal requirements.
Based on our review of five major projects currently under construction or recently completed, we found that FHWA Division Offices ensured that States met basic requirements to submit initial financial plans, annual updates to financial plans, and project management plans—and that these plans contained basic cost, schedule, and funding elements. However, FHWA Division Offices did not consistently follow Agency guidance when evaluating the plans for the five major projects we reviewed. FHWA also lacked specificity in key areas of its financial plan and project management plan guidance used by Division Offices to help oversee State’s major projects. FHWA Division Offices and States associated with the five projects we reviewed identified contracting methods, project management tools, and provisions in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) that could help accelerate delivery, improve project management, and enhance oversight of major projects. FHWA concurred with all five of our recommendations to improve its oversight of major project financial plans and project management plans.