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Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. These FAQs are intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. FTA recipients and subrecipients should refer to FTA’s statutes and regulations for applicable requirements.

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FTA only allows a sole source procurement on the basis of “public exigency” or “emergency” during a national or regional emergency or disaster and during the days and weeks immediately following a national or regional emergency or disaster.

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Federal procurement regulations neither authorize nor prohibit recipients from approving multiple change orders in a single “blanket approval” action. Although this action is not specifically defined under federal procurement standards, approving multiple change orders in a single “blanket approval” would generally be discouraged, but is not prohibited. There may be situations in which such an action may be reasonable and appropriate. It is important to note that Federal procurement requirements do not explicitly recognize a contractual action termed "Blanket Change Order Approval." If a transit agency’s applicable state and local procurement regulations or policies allow for blanket approvals and the procurement official followed the applicable regulation or policy, then the blanket approval could be a valid procurement method for that particular transit agency.  A transit agency using a blanket approval should identify its authority for doing so in the blanket approval and include the document in the project file.   Likewise, if a transit agency’s procurement regulations or policies do not allow for or address blanket approvals, then a blanket approval would not be a valid procurement method.   

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No. Section 5333(b) aka 13(c) does not apply to the FTA’s Emergency Relief program or funds allocated under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013

Answer:

Yes. As permitted by statute (49 U.S.C. 5324(d)(1)), FTA will determine the terms and conditions that apply to grants awarded under the ER Program. Accordingly, FTA requires utilization of integrity monitors for Sandy projects for recipients receiving over $100 million in funding in addition to the standard oversight program. Integrity monitoring is a project administration expense.

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No. Only additional service provided on a temporary basis in response to the storm is eligible. For example, additional temporary service on existing routes that are more heavily travelled during evacuation, a bus bridge between rail stations when a section of track is out of service for repairs, or temporary new service to and from an evacuation shelter would be eligible. Running less frequent service on an existing route for any reason is not an eligible expense. For example, operator wages on a regular bus route or rail line that is operating on increased headways due to reduced demand in the aftermath of a disaster is not eligible. Disaster-related costs associated with ramping service up or down, such as putting rolling stock into storage or returning rolling stock to service, are eligible.

Answer:

The Office of Management and Budget requires that all Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria FTA ER funds be expended within 24 months of grant obligation. FTA has submitted a waiver for this requirement. If the waiver is granted, FTA will conduct an administrative amendment to remove the requirement on any grants already awarded with the 24-month expenditure requirement as a grant condition.

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No, although it is recommended that affected transit agencies submit their applications as soon as reasonably possible. Contact your FTA regional office for help getting started.

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Although Section 904(c) of the Disaster Relief Act requires that funds received under the Disaster Relief Act be expended within two years of obligation, OMB issued a waiver of this requirement for grants awarded under FTA’s Emergency Relief Program. In issuing this waiver, OMB stated an expectation that Federal agencies and grantees will work together to ensure that funds obligated under the Disaster Relief Act are expended in a timely manner.
Based on the complexity of projects we expect to be submitted, FTA expects to award funds for major capital projects that will take multiple years to complete. While there is not a defined timeframe in which these funds must be expended, all projects must be undertaken and completed in accordance with the project grant agreement and all identified milestones.

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FTA has received numerous inquiries regarding the 24 month timeframe. FTA is pursuing a blanket waiver from this requirement for Hurricane Sandy Emergency Relief projects. Further guidance will be provided once it is available.

Answer:

Although Section 904(c) of the Disaster Relief Act requires that funds received under the Disaster Relief Act be expended within two years of obligation, OMB issued a waiver of this requirement for grants awarded under FTA’s Emergency Relief Program. In issuing this waiver, OMB stated an expectation that Federal agencies and grantees will work together to ensure that funds obligated under the Disaster Relief Act are expended in a timely manner. Based on the complexity of projects selected, FTA expects to award funds for major capital projects that will take multiple years to complete. While there is not a defined timeframe in which these funds must be obligated and expended, all projects must be undertaken and completed in accordance with the project application and grant agreement and all identified milestones.

Answer:

Yes, but Grantees should consult regions on any special requirements for Sandy-grant budget revisions or amendments. Also, any grant modification that increases the federal funds (e.g. grant amendment) will need to comply with all Federal requirements unless the funds being added were part of the initial allocation for expenses within categories 1, 2, or 3.

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In general, the acquisition of spare parts is an eligible capital expense under FTA’s Emergency Relief program. Pursuant to the May 29, 2013 Federal Register Notice, FTA will review proposed local priority resiliency projects based on information included in the program of projects, including the resiliency justification. The acquisition of additional spare parts may be justified in cases where an extreme weather event or other emergency would accelerate the consumption of particular parts (e.g. replacement parts for modular flood barriers or pump equipment), where spare parts likely to be affected by an emergency require extended lead times, or where a higher standing inventory of a particular item has been otherwise identified as necessary as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Provisions of the DOT Common Grant Rule 49 CFR Part 18 Section 18.32 apply to the acquisition of spare parts.

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No. This Competitive Resilience NOFA is for resilience projects only, which may include upgrades or other improvements to existing assets. Recovery project should be funded from the initial Category 1-3 allocations or the pro-rated recovery allocations published by FTA on March 28, 2013 and May 29, 2013. If an agency has repair and recovery costs exceeding the amount that has been allocated to date (less any insurance settlements), they should discuss this with FTA.

Answer:

Yes, an applicant may apply for funding for a project that has previously been funded through FTA’s Emergency Relief Program or other programs, however, the funds must be for elements of the project for which funds are currently not obligated. This includes projects that are in the design or engineering stages for which federal funding has been received or resiliency components of a federally funded recovery project if the applicant can demonstrate it has not received sufficient funding from FTA already to carry out the resiliency components. Note that FTA will not allocate competitive resilience funds in cases where they would displace other Federal funds that have been obligated on existing projects. Projects funded from local or state funds may not be eligible if they did not receive FTA pre-award authority or if they do not comply with Federal requirements.

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The applicant must demonstrate that they have the financial capacity to complete the resilience project. If a resiliency projects is dependent on another project being implemented, the applicant must demonstrate they have funding committed (whether federal, state or local) to carry out the other project.

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Yes. The projects must have been completed according to all applicable requirements, but because pre-award authority has been extended back to the date on which preparations for the storms began, repair projects that have already been completed are eligible for reimbursement.

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Yes, because it would be considered an emergency operation outside the scope of your normal operations undertaken to respond to the storm.

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The 100% Federal share is only for specific emergency operations and emergency protective measures incurred between October 30- November 14, 2012 in affected areas in CT, NY, and NJ. These costs include: evacuations; rescue operations; moving rolling stock to higher ground in order to protect it from storm surges; additional bus or ferry service to replace inoperable rail service or to detour around damaged areas; returning evacuees to their homes after the hurricane; and the net project costs related to reestablishing, expanding, or relocating public transportation service before, during, or after the hurricane. Eligible costs include emergency protective measures (capital projects) intended to protect transit infrastructure from Hurricane Sandy and that were undertaken to respond to the immediate aftermath of the storm. Eligible costs incurred prior to October 30, 2012 or after November 14, 2012 are eligible for reimbursement at a 90% Federal share.

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Yes, you may apply for multiple resilience projects in a single grant if the period of performance is similar and the combination will not delay obligation or disbursement of funds for a project due to federal requirements such as environmental work.

Answer:

Force account is the use of a grantee’s own labor force to carry out a capital project. Force account work may consist of design, construction, refurbishment, inspection, and construction management activities, if eligible for reimbursement under the grant. Incremental labor costs from flagging protection, service diversions, or other activities directly related to the capital grant may also be defined as force account work.Documentation can include a force account plan for the work accomplished or planned, or any other documentation that reflects that in-house labor forces were "budgeted" as of January 29th to accomplish the work.

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