Interagency Guidance: Transportation Funding
for Federal Agency Coordination
Associated with Environmental Streamlining Activities
VI. OTHER COST REIMBURSEMENT MECHANISMS
This section lists other statutory authorities and types of eligible activities State DOTs, transit operators, and Federal resource agencies may enter into for the purposes of environmental streamlining and cost-reimbursement. Please note that agencies other than the USDOT have lead responsibility for implementing the following statutes. Any reimbursable agreements relying on these authorities should be developed in consultation with the appropriate agency having primary responsibility.
State DOTs, transit operators, and Federal resource agencies should address the question of whether to fund a position to work exclusively on State priority projects or to fund one or more part-time positions on a project-specific basis. Funding levels that do not result in increased staffing levels for the Federal resource agencies are generally unable to achieve the environmental streamlining goals.
The Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C., Chapter 9 §742e and f(a)(4)
The Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 authorizes the USFWS's use of another agency's funds as follows:
". . . The Secretary, with the assistance of the departmental staff herein authorized, shall - . . .take such steps as may be required for the development, advancement, management, conservation and protection of fish and wildlife resources including, but not limited to, research, development of existing facilities, and acquisition by purchase or exchange of land and water, or interests therein." (Sec. 742f(a)(4)).
The law states that the "Secretary may request and secure the advice or assistance of any department or agency of the Government in carrying out the provisions of this Act, and any such department or agency which furnishes advice or assistance to the Secretary may expend its own funds for such purposes, with or without reimbursement from the Secretary as may be agreed upon between the Secretary and the department or agency." (Sec. 742e(c))
Under the terms of an interagency agreement, the FWS can hire additional staff whose salary is paid by the State DOT (the State's expenses are reimbursed using apportioned Federal-aid project funds).
The additional FWS staff can work exclusively on State DOT actions: planning (pre-scoping), project scoping, and alternatives development. The most efficient time to successfully resolve environmental issues is at the planning (pre-scoping) and scoping stages.
The Intergovernmental Cooperation Act (31 U.S.C. 6505)
Several Federal agencies have implemented interagency agreements under this authority.
The Intergovernmental Cooperation Act authorizes Federal agencies to provide specialized or technical services to State and local governments. Under section 6505 -
"(a) The President may prescribe statistical and other studies and compilations, development projects, technical tests and evaluations, technical information, training activities, surveys, reports documents, and other similar services that an executive agency is especially competent and authorized by law to provide. The services prescribed must be consistent with and further the policy of the United States Government of relying on the private enterprise system to provide services reasonably and quickly available through ordinary business channels.
(b) The head of an executive agency may provide services prescribed by the President under this section to a state or local government when -
(1) written request is made by the state or local government; and (2) payment of pay and all other identifiable costs of providing the services is made to the executive agency by the state or local government making the request.
Note: In the South Carolina DOT interagency agreement (Appendix B) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service(USFWS), this statute and Public Law 105-277, were used as authorities for the USFWS to receive advance payment before incurring any expenditures and providing any goods or services.
Revised Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility Program (5 CFR Part 334)
The Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program provides for the temporary assignment of personnel between Federal, State, local, and Indian tribal governments, institutions of higher learning, federally funded research and development centers, and other eligible organizations. It offers additional flexibility for augmenting the staffing available to Federal resource agencies to carry out their missions.
Examples of activities eligible for funding under these mechanisms
Intergovernmental Personnel Act of 1970 (IPA):
A staff member from a Federal resource agency is detailed to a State DOT to help scope issues and conduct environmental analysis for its projects. Although the staff member remains a Federal employee, the state may reimburse the agency for all or part of the employee's salary and expenses. This increased attention and early involvement by the Federal resource agency should result in less time to resolve issues and smoother review. The Federal resource agency could then hire someone for the duration to "fill in," so there would not be a loss of the agency's ability to conduct its business.
A staff member from a State resource agency or from academia is obtained as additional Federal resource agency staff to assist in scoping or review of State DOT projects. An IPA must be developed in accordance with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) regulations and guidance. For more information, please refer to the OPM website at: www.opm.gov/programs/ipa/ipa.htm.
Assignments may be made up to two years (and may be extended) and conditions are laid out regarding total length of mobility assignments, continuation of service agreements, certifications, and necessary agreements between the agencies.
Interagency agreements between State DOTs and Federal resource agencies should consider whether the State seeks more intense Federal agency involvement for the purpose of (1) expediting a specific project or projects, (2) streamlining the overall approach to decision making, or (3) some combination of these. Most State-Federal agreements to date have focused on Federal support of specific, priority projects, but State DOTs and Federal resource agencies are encouraged to consider the broad benefits of establishing agreed upon approaches and standard operating procedures that can streamline future projects as well as those currently in the pipeline.
Determining the purpose and focus of the Federal-aid associated with environmental streamlining efforts will also dictate the skills and experience level needed of the Federal agency staff working under the interagency agreement. For example, if the State needs help with a mitigation plan for an endangered species affected by a road re-routing, a junior wildlife biologist could be brought in to develop that plan. Or, if the State primarily seeks technical assistance with deciding the preferred corridors for future highway expansion, the Federal agency may provide a mid-level employee with the appropriate technical skills in environmental mapping. However, if the State wants to develop a programmatic agreement under which certain routine actions can be handled by the state rather than the Federal resource agency, the agency would need to supply a more senior level employee who understands agency policy and legal requirements and can negotiate on behalf of the agency.
State DOTs and Federal resource agencies should also consider the benefits of funding a full-time position to work on streamlining future projects. This would reduce the need for costly mitigation, reduce delays when the projects are planned, and provide for enhancement of environmental quality. For example, if a state needs help with developing a programmatic approach to mitigation for future projects, a biologist could be dedicated to specifically develop the plan.