Sneak Preview: FHWA Plans Guidance To Improve Major Highway Project Oversight

February 27, 2015 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xsass_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Single Audit Information Service.) The Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) plans to develop guidance by the end of next year to help its division offices more consistently monitor state-submitted financial and project management plans for major highway projects, in response to a recent recommendation by the DOT Office of Inspector General (OIG).

States receiving FHWA funding for major highway projects (i.e., $500 million or more) are required to prepare and submit to FHWA project management plans and an initial financial plan (with subsequent financial plans submitted annually) for each major highway project in the state to help FHWA division offices manage the scope, cost and schedule of the projects. With an increasing public and congressional emphasis on reducing the time it takes to complete these major projects, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act (Pub. L. 112-141) contained a series of reforms to accelerate project completion.

In an audit in which it reviewed five major highway projects nationwide from July 2013 to December 2014, OIG found that FHWA division offices generally ensured that states met basic requirements to submit initial financial plans, annual updates to those plans and project management plans, and in most cases, the division offices accepted these plans before authorizing funds for construction. However, because the agency lacked sufficient controls, OIG found that FHWA had authorized some major project funds before receiving the financial or project management plans.

“FHWA’s authorization of the funds prior to accepting these plans did not negatively impact the completion” of the project, but “proceeding to construction without required plan acceptance heightens the possibility that all parties may not agree on key cost, schedule and funding risks,” OIG added.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site).

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