Environmental Review Toolkit
 

Interagency Guidance: Transportation Funding
for Federal Agency Coordination
Associated with Environmental Streamlining Activities

APPENDIX A
Examples of Interagency Agreements and
Summary of Lessons Learned/Best Practices to Expedite Reviews

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Interagency Agreements to Promote Environmental Streamlining
Summaries of Best Practices for Expedited Reviews and Lessons Learned

Agencies Purpose/Activity Funded Satutory Authority Best Practices for Expedited Reviews/Lessons Learned
Maryland DOT- SHA-MTA-FHWA- EPA (available in hardcopy only) To provide additional resources to EPA for streamlined and expedited document review (w/in agreed upon time frames), technical assistance, consultation, and project coordination for SHA and MTA projects and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project.

Intergovernmental Cooperation Act, 31 U.S.C., §6505 et. seq.

TEA-21 §1309(e)(2)(B)

The intent of this agreement is to facilitate environmental streamlining and provide services over and beyond expectations and requirements on transportation projects. The agreement describes how the objectives will be met, includes program-based performance standards/measures; requires periodic performance reviews and documentation in monthly status reports.
USFWS (available in hardcopy only) Cooperative agreement to provide additional staff to FWS for expedited document reviews & project coordination. This is a multi-year agreement for 5 years. Intergovernmental Cooperation Act, 31 U.S.C., §6505 et. seq. This agreement requires: FWS to review and comment on the SHA's submissions within the timeframes stipulated in "Maryland's Streamlined Environmental and Regulatory Process," or as mutually agreed upon by both agencies; and provide guidance as requested in the preparation of biological assessments, mitigation plans, environmental documents and other required documentation necessary for transportation project development process.
Montana DOT-USACOE-FHWA

Priority highway construction project review: To provide staff to the COE for §404 and §10 reviews of projects under design or contemplated by MDT.

This is a multi-year agreement initiated in 1999 for 4 years. The funding includes overhead costs.

Intergovernmental Cooperation Act, 31 U.S.C. §6505;

10 U.S.C. §3036d;

23 U.S.C. §132**

The focus of the agreement is on reviewing permitting decisions for priority projects. Provisions for expedited reviews are considered other tasks that could be assigned by MDT and include but not limited to the following: early review of projects; participation in scoping activities; review database information associated with permit activities; provide detailed input on alternatives under consideration; or review and comment on system-level documents.

Performance indicators require: MDT and COE to review existing interagency coordination processes and develop recommendations to streamline procedures and increase efficiency w/in 3 months of the staff's starting date; the COE is to provide a preliminary response to MDT on all applications w/in 30 days of submission, to include status update on expected level of complexity and estimated future action that may be needed.

To address the COE's specific requirement for payment-in-advance, the state used 23 U.S.C §132 as a mechanism to transfer advanced funds at the time the agreement was signed and to obtain immediate reimbursement of the Federal-aid share. The FHWA division office was a signatory. The individual in the position has been very effective.

South Carolina DOT — USFWS (available in hardcopy only)

To increase and facilitate FWS involvement in the SCDOT planning and environmental coordination process.

This agreement provides for a full time Biologist to work on SCDOT projects and provide expedited document review and project coordination.

US Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C., 742f(a)(4))

Intergovernmental Cooperation Act (31 U.S.C. 6505)

SCDOT uses Federal funds for 4 positions, i.e. 1 at each of the following resource agencies: (SHPO) at SC Dept. of Archives and History; SC Dept. of Natural Resources; USFWS; and SC Dept. of Health and Environmental Control.

The agreements are established for separate Federal-aid projects; require agencies to baseline and demonstrate expedited time frames, and establish goals

Performance Measures: Maximum review times are written into the agreements and if the times are not met, the position will not be funded for another term.

SC DOT developed a performance survey requiring the personnel in these positions to provide monthly summaries of their work and the review times. Thus far, the review times from the SHPO office have averaged 6.6 days (previously 30+ days); overall time to get a 404/401 permit has been reduced from 330 to 220 days.

These personnel are becoming involved in an environmental screening process for long-range transportation plans. The goal is to keep environmental challenges from becoming environmental obstacles and to address the issues before they reach the project development stage.

SCDOT used the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act and Public Law 105-277, as authorities for the USFWS to receive advance payment before incurring any expenditures and providing any goods or services.

Pennsylvania DOT-EPA To provide staff to EPA for expedited document review and project coordination. Agreement term is 6 years. Intergovernmental Personnel Act of 1970 EPA staff to review and respond to the state's submissions within the mutually agreed upon 20 working days upon receipt of the complete project documentation. A 30 day review period is allowed for DEIS. Performance review standards were developed cooperatively.
USFWS (available in hardcopy only) Provides staff to FWS for expedited document review and project coordination. This 5 year interagency agreement was amended in 1995. Intergovernmental Cooperation Act, 31 U.S.C.,§6505 et.seq. This agreement increases FWS involvement. The focus is on joint involvement in the pre-scoping and scoping stages of planning. The early coordination has resulted in fewer impacts to fish and wildlife resources.
FHWA California Division-EPA-CALTRANS (available in hardcopy only)

To provide staff to increase EPA's level of early involvement during the project planning and development process, so that final EPA reviews will not result in unnecessary delays in Caltrans project development.

MOU was signed September 26, 2001 and will terminate on June 30, 2003.

TEA-21

This MOU is in the early stages of implementation. It includes a signed partnership agreement that lists the agencies' commitments to achieving the objective for 2000 and beyond. EPA is required to submit an annual summary report of progress describing achievements, including any improvements it has documented in coordinating and streamlining environmental reviews, identify recommendations for improving consultation and coordination, etc. Under the section on standard operating procedures, the MOU presents strategies for dispute resolution.

Performance Measures: Among the standards is the requirement pertaining to timeliness of document/project reviews for a target turnaround time of 20 working days upon receipt of complete documentation by EPA.

North Carolina DOT-USFWS (available in hardcopy only) To provide assistance to the NCDOT for project coordination and expedited document review. This agreement was signed in 1999 and expires 9/30/03. The first agreement between NCDOT and USFWS was in 1997. US Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C., 742f(a)(4)) North Carolina is currently funding 21 positions. Based on the state's experience the following best practices/lessons learned follow:
  • If more than one position is being funded, try to have the agreements on the same cycle.
  • Agreements should cover more than one year, so that the staff has enough time to better understand the agency's processes, etc. Also, if the agreement term is short, it is difficult to recruit or retain the most qualified individuals.
  • Provide enough information in the agreement to clarify expectations, identify specific tasks/key responsibilities, priorities, etc.
  • Require the development of a reporting system to describe the value the position added to the agency (e.g., notable projects/accomplishments, initiatives for process improvement, role the staff had in proactive issues, etc.)
  • Evaluation Process: Evaluate the positions in the agencies that are supported by the program to determine the benefit of the services to the funded agency. Follow-up with one-on-one discussions/interviews with the managers.
Lessons Learned: To avoid unnecessary concern from the agency staff funded by the program, inform them of the evaluations and subsequent interviews with management. Other suggestions include:
  • Have the agencies rate themselves so that gaps, discrepancies, etc. can be identified and resolved.
  • In obtaining feedback from the managers, discuss expectations, accountability, accomplishments, and next steps.
  • Develop a tracking mechanism.

**Sec. 132. Payments on Federal-aid projects undertaken by a Federal agency
Where a proposed Federal-aid project is to be undertaken by a Federal agency pursuant to an agreement between a State and such Federal agency and the State makes a deposit with or payment to such Federal agency as may be required in fulfillment of the State's obligation under such agreement for the work undertaken or to be undertaken by such Federal agency, the Secretary, upon execution of a project agreement with such State for the proposed Federal-aid project, may reimburse the State out of the appropriate appropriations the estimated Federal share under the provisions of this title of the State's obligation so deposited or paid by such State. Upon completion of such project and its acceptance by the Secretary, an adjustment shall be made in such Federal share payable on account of such project based on the final cost thereof. Any sums reimbursed to the State under this section which may be in excess of the Federal pro rata share under the provisions of this title of the State's share of the cost as set forth in the approved final voucher submitted by the State shall be recovered and credited to the same class of funds from which the Federal payment under this section was made.

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