Year of Publication
Martin School of Public Policy and Administration
Federal funds for highway construction projects must comply with federal and state regulations. In Kentucky, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) with the assistance of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) administers the federal-aid highway program. FHWA and KYTC ensure quality of highway projects by inspections of activities conforming to plans, specifications and cost estimates; as well as with the testing of materials used in the project.
During the last five years, an emphasis stemming from reports of the US DOT Office of Inspector General (OIG) and US General Accountability Office (GAO) related to the financial processes in place to administer the federal-aid highway program has led to an agencywide review of all processes related to the finance program area. Inactive projects is one of several items that the recent FHWA FIRE Order require both FHWA and KYTC to review and improve processes enabling a better and expedited delivery of funds, as well as enhanced documenting techniques of administrative decisions. One of those processes with inactive projects is the closeout of projects, termed “Final Acceptance Process”, required per federal requirements included in the 23 Code of Federal Regulations and the 2004 Kentucky Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction.
This research intends to address three questions: (1) how does the Final Acceptance Process work in Kentucky, related to its timeliness and completion of all requirements; (2) if the process does not work as designed, why does it take so long and why it is not completed with all requirements; and (3) whether the process works differently depending on whether it is state or federal and non-interstate or interstate. A process review was conducted to assess the requirements, steps and stakeholders involved in the Final Acceptance Process. Interviews and statistical analysis using an historical database of construction projects with both timeframes and funding information were used to achieve this process review. The literature review provided insight of the importance of processes and its relationship with total quality management and performance measures.
Among the findings of this report include the diagramming of the process based on the requirements per federal and state regulations and specifications, as well as the way it is being currently used. The lack of completion of required documents, such as the FHWA- 47 and Materials Certificate were found to be the major reasons why FHWA has being unable to complete their FHWA Final Acceptance Report, the final step in the Final Acceptance Process. Statistical analysis showed that there was not much of a difference in the management of the process for interstate and non-interstate projects. A key finding from this analysis was that approximately 30% of all completed projects were found to be finally paid by KYTC without having the FHWA Final Acceptance Report completed, an item intended to assure quality from both federal and state requirements, due primarily to missing the Materials Certificate and FHWA-47 forms.
A series of recommendations were provided to improve the Final Acceptance Process, including (1) FHWA and KYTC’s stakeholders need to engage themselves to learn, use 3 and improve the Final Acceptance Process to their agreement, (2) development of performance goals and measures, (3) definition of roles for stakeholders and users of the process, (4) rollout of guidance provided by the top management from both agencies, as well as (5) training relating the requirements, steps and accountable parties.
Loyselle, Michael M., "Process Review of the Final Acceptance for Federal-Aid Highway Projects in Kentucky" (2007). MPA/MPP/MPFM Capstone Projects. 170.