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Environmental Review Toolkit

Every Day Counts

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Every Day Counts (EDC) is a cooperative partnership between the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to speed up the delivery of highway projects and to address the challenges presented by limited budgets. Using a two-year deployment cycle, FHWA and AASHTO facilitate sharing of specifications, best practices, lessons learned, and relevant data among stakeholders. The result is rapid technology transfer and accelerated deployment of innovation across the nation. The FHWA Office of Project Development and Environmental Review (HEPE) oversees four EDC innovations: implementing quality environmental documentation (IQED), programmatic agreements (PAs), integrating NEPA and permitting, and virtual public involvement.

On July 31, 2006, FHWA issued a Memorandum detailing its position on the preparation of NEPA documents and providing information on the report, Improving the Quality of Environmental Documents, prepared by AASHTO, the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) and the FHWA. The report’s focus was on improving the quality of NEPA documents and represents FHWA’s and the transportation industry’s current thinking regarding the use of different formats and alternative approaches to NEPA documentation. FHWA encourages the consideration of ways to improve the effectiveness of NEPA documents, including the use of different formats and alternative approaches to making documents easier to read, while demonstrating compliance with NEPA and other applicable environmental laws that satisfy the needs and expectations of FHWA’s partners and stakeholders.

  • Visit the Center for Environmental Excellence by AASHTO’s NEPA Process web page.
  • On August 17, 2006, FHWA issued a Memorandum outlining requirements for the timely publication of documents in the Federal Register.

EDC-2, the second year-long round of EDC, introduced implementing quality environmental documentation (IQED) through promoting best practices for simplifying and expediting the development of environmental documentation. It focused on ensuring that the efforts for project purpose and need, consideration of alternatives, and impacts were appropriately documented and effectively included in NEPA documentation. The effort was designed to make NEPA documentation more effective in disclosing the information used in making project decisions to the public and participating agencies. In 2014, FHWA published Guidance on Making a Quality EIS Summary that provides a question-and-answer format to use when writing a quality EIS summary.

EDC-3 expanded on IQED efforts introduced by EDC-2 by improving collaborative processes. EDC-3 supported tools to foster collaborative, timely, and transparent interagency reviews, which can cut the amount of work and resources required, save time and money, and improve the quality of NEPA documentation for projects. Efforts included creating systems to facilitate document-sharing and collaboration between two or more agencies.

Under EDC-2, FHWA worked to expand the use of programmatic approaches by synthesizing State-level agreements and applying these existing agreements to new States or expanding them to regions. The EDC-2 final report summarizes the state of the practice of programmatic agreements, with more than 500 in place across 50 States for a wide variety of environmental processes and programs. The EDC-2 initiative focused on FHWA/State DOT agreements with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, U.S Coast Guard, and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and conducted a cost-benefit analysis of programmatic agreements across the country. Existing programmatic agreements were shown to promote cost savings, expedite project delivery, increase transparency and certainty during the project development process, and decrease review times for State DOT and partner agencies. The EDC-4 Integrating NEPA and Permitting initiative also promotes the use of programmatic approaches to better integrate the environmental review and permitting processes, particularly during mitigation planning.

AASHTO’s Programmatic Agreements Library (PAL) is a centralized library and “one-stop-shop” of agreements organized by key environmental topics, which includes examples of executed programmatic agreements; summarizes agreement information; contains a link to the full agreement; and provides search filters to help practitioners identify agreements that meet specific requirements. PAL is an organized, accessible central library that provides examples of executed programmatic agreements, agreement information summaries, links to full agreements, and on-going access for practitioners to research agreements that meet specific requirements.

As part of the EDC-4 initiative Integrating NEPA and Permitting, FHWA is working closely with 17 State DOTs on strategies to expedite project delivery for projects that impact aquatic resources, historic and cultural resources, and endangered species. Key successes include development of a programmatic agreement for Georgia DOT for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, creation of a working group on wetland mitigation in Idaho, and a programmatic framework for culvert assessments in New York. As part of a broader effort, the EDC-4 team is also assisting States with One Federal Decision (OFD) per 23 U.S.C. 139. OFD requires all Federal authorization decisions for the construction of a major project to be completed within 90 days of the issuance of a ROD. The EDC-4 team has been working to develop a template agreement to help transportation agencies meet OFD requirements and coordinate more closely with USACE, USFWS, and other resource agencies.

Library Directory


Case Studies

Resources and Tools


State Agreements and Instruments

Publications and Newsletters

Presentations, Webinars, and Videos

EDC-5 Introduced Virtual Public Involvement (VPI) to promote increased Public Involvement in the transportation decision-making process. VPI, as part of EDC-6, focuses on ways to use VPI tools to effectively engage traditionally underserved communities and on assisting State DOTs and MPOs in institutionalizing the use of VPI. Public involvement is a critical component in the transportation decision-making process, allowing for meaningful consideration and input from those potentially affected by such decisions. Transportation agencies can strengthen meaningful public involvement in planning and project development by integrating VPI tools into their overall public involvement approach. Other benefits can include reduced administrative burden on staff, cost savings, and accelerated project delivery. VPI tools can increase the public’s access to information and opportunity to express their viewpoint and values in the transportation decision-making process.

VPI includes various online communication strategies that utilize websites, mobile applications, tablets, and social media. FHWA has organized the VPI tools into eight categories: Online Mobile Applications, Project Visualization, Do-It-Yourself Videos, Crowdsourcing Videos, Virtual Town Halls, Online Mapping Tools, All-In-One Tools, and Digital Tools to Enhance In-Person Events.

It’s important to note that the use of VPI techniques and strategies do not change existing requirements of public involvement established by statue, regulation, or executive order, and these tools are not intended to completely replace in-person public involvement opportunities, which remain an important part of a balanced public involvement approach.

For more information on VPI strategies reference the Virtual Public Involvement Practices in the National Environmental Policy Act and reference the Virtual Public Involvement website.