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Frequently Asked Questions

View frequently asked questions on this topic below. Perform a word search to narrow your content or, if this topic has sub-categories, select based on your interest from the drop-down list. Answers to frequently asked questions are provided as guidance.

Answer:

Labor costs that can be directly allocated to emergency operations are eligible. This includes straight-time and over-time. Stand-by time is eligible as long as the stand-by time expenses were incurred for an eligible activity, for example operators placed on stand-by for evacuations or temporary service. Leave (administrative or personal) taken during the emergency is not an eligible expense. Accrued leave and other fringe benefits earned by hourly employees are eligible if the expenses can be allocated to an eligible ER activity and an indirect cost rate is not applied to the grant. Fringe benefits for all salaried employees, as well as straight-time labor for salaried management are not eligible as a direct cost. Over-time for salaried management may be eligible as reimbursement for emergency operations if the over-time can be allocated to eligible activities.

Indirect costs, which may include non-allocable fringe benefits, are an eligible expense and may be applied to the grant if the applicant has an approved Cost Allocation Plan or Indirect Cost Rate Proposal, or the applicant may use the de minimis rate if eligible. Please see section 4.1.3 “Eligible Projects and Costs” of FTA’s Emergency Relief Manual for more information.

Answer:

FTA does not require that any NEPA work be completed prior to applying. However, applicants should have a reasonable understanding about the NEPA class of action required for the project, as this will allow them to develop an appropriate project timeline. If a project is selected, agencies are advised to consult with FTA prior to grant submittal and indicate in the grant submission if a 4(f) or Section 106 review will be needed.

Answer:

Emergency and permanent repair projects may qualify for a C-List or D-List Categorical Exclusion if they do not involve changes to the capacity, location, or function of public transportation assets. Please see section 4.2.4 “National Environmental Policy Act Review Process” in FTA’s Emergency Relief Manual for details.

Answer:

Applicants should indicate when a resilience project can be undertaken either in multiple phases or multiple independent elements, provided that each phase or element can be completed independently and will serve to make the transportation system more resilient. If funding is not available for an entire project, FTA may consider awarding funds for one or more scalable project phases or elements. Applicants should identify the proposed scope and reduced funding amount for each scalable alternative, and must complete a separate HMCE analysis for each alternative.

Answer:

Generally if the facility was in transit use at the time of the disaster and the facility sustained damage, ER funds will be made available to bring the aspects of the facility that were damaged by the storm up to a state of good repair.
 
For example, if an administrative building was in use by the transit agency and in poor condition but was flooded with 6 inches of water during a the storm, ER funds could be used to repair or replace damaged flooring, drywall, office equipment, etc. at current standards.

If a facility was not in transit use at the time of the damage, whether due to age, condition or other reasons, the damage would not be eligible for repair.  However, ER funds may be available to reimburse for debris removal and other expenses that return the property to a safe status as long as the facility is still owned by the transit agency.

Answer:

FTA decided to set aside $50 million of the overall $330 million appropriation for latent damages and other emergency-related expenses from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria that may arise in the future.

Answer:

If an applicant believes the FTA HMCE analysis tool does not capture all of the resilience benefits of a proposed project, the applicant should provide additional information in the qualitative benefits section of the HMCE tool, which is located beneath the projects apparent benefit cost ratio (BCR). Other benefits may also be quantified by an applicant and submitted separately, however, in such a case the applicant must submit a highly detailed explanation of how and why the alternative analysis differs from the HMCE tool. FTA will carefully scrutinize the justification, as well as the procedures and methodology provided together with the results of the HMCE tool.

Answer:

The slides and training guides from these presentations can be found on FTA’s emergency relief website. Please contact us at FTASandyResilience@dot.gov if you are interested in obtaining a recording of the webinars.

Answer:

FTA has allocated ER funding to address 100% of the cost of emergency operations incurred for up to 270 days from the date of disaster declaration, and for 90% of the cost of permanent repairs. Grantees are required to provide local funds for 10% of the reported estimated cost of permanent repairs.

Answer:

The bulk of the appropriation, $277.525 million, is being allocated today to Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands for response, recovery, rebuilding, and resiliency projects. It is standard practice for FTA Emergency Relief Program funds to be delivered in multiple allocations, to allow affected grantees appropriate time to evaluate their needs and to assess damages.

As authorized by the appropriating legislation, a small amount of the funding ($2.475 million) will go toward administrative and oversight expenses.

Answer:

Pursuant to Federal Register notice 83 FR 25108 section I.H, “the use of TDCs means that no local funds will be required for projects in the grant, and that the funds allocated by FTA may not alone be sufficient to fund the entirety of the proposed Emergency Relief projects. FTA will not allocate additional Federal funds to recipients that use TDCs in place of the non-Federal share, so sufficient alternative funds may need to be located to fully finance projects utilizing TDCs.”

Answer:

Such projects should be discussed with the applicable FTA regional office. Determinations on how or if such projects will be funded will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Answer:

FTA has the discretion to permit a recipient to use Section 5324 Emergency Relief Program funds to support a limited competition procurement.Pursuant to FTA’s authorizing statute at 49 U.S.C. § 5325(a), an FTA recipient is required to use FTA funds to support project activities using full and open competition. A recipient may conduct a sole source procurement in very limited circumstances under the Common Grant Rule at 49 C.F.R. Part 18.36. A recipient does not have explicit authority, by law, to conduct a limited competition procurement.Notwithstanding this framework, FTA has the discretionary authority under 49 C.F.R. Part 601, Subpart D to waive its requirements through the Emergency Relief Docket in cases involving national or regional emergencies and disasters. Given this authority, FTA will entertain requests for emergency relief waivers from FTA’s full and open competition requirement, and FTA will consider requests to approve limited competition procurements. To be clear, a request for a waiver is not a guarantee of a waiver. FTA maintains the discretion to grant or deny a waiver request.If a recipient is interested in pursuing a limited competition procurement, then it must obtain an emergency relief waiver of FTA’s full and open competition requirement pursuant to 49 C.F.R. Part 601, Subpart D and FTA’s Federal Register Notice of Establishment of Emergency Relief Docket for Calendar Year 2013 dated February 15, 2013 (available at www.regulations.gov, docket number FTA-2013-0001). A request for a waiver should be addressed to the Administrator, and it should contain a compelling justification and any relevant supporting documentation as to why a waiver should be granted. The recipient should upload its request into the Emergency Relief Docket. FTA will process the request in accordance with 49 C.F.R. Part 601, Subpart D. A recipient may not award a limited competition contract supported by Section 5324 Emergency Relief Program funds prior to FTA’s written approval.FTA strongly recommends that recipients submit requests for waivers as early as practicable in the procurement process. A recipient should submit such a request at the time it determines the best strategy is a limited competition procurement. Recipients should not assume that waiver requests will be granted.

Answer:

While FTA may permit a recipient to use of a sole source method of procurement for a project supported by Emergency Relief Program funds, the recipient must seek and obtain FTA’s approval in writing. FTA will only permit a recipient to use Section 5324 Emergency Relief Program funds to support a sole source procurement, if the recipient articulates compelling written justification for the sole source procurement consistent with the Common Grant Rule, FTA’s Third Party Contracting Guidance Circular 4220.1F, and FTA’s Best Practices Procurement Manual.Recipients must send a written request for approval to the appropriate Regional Office POC, and the recipient must provide compelling justification and any relevant supporting documentation for the sole source procurement, consistent with applicable law. FTA will review the request and if FTA agrees with the request, FTA will require the grantee to attach the sole source justification in TEAM, and the award of the grant will serve as the approval. For grants already awarded, FTA will document its approval of the request in writing (e.g. email), and FTA will require the grantee to attach the sole source justification in TEAM. The recipient is at risk for any sole source contract commitments made prior to receiving FTA’s approval. FTA reserves the right to review any project-related documentation at any time during project development.FTA strongly recommends that recipients submit requests for approvals of sole source procurements as early as practicable in the procurement process. Recipients should not assume that requests for approvals of sole source procurements will be granted. If a recipient has not articulated a compelling justification for a sole source procurement consistent with the Common Grant Rule, FTA may require the recipient to submit a request to waive the full and open procurement requirements through FTA’s Emergency Relief Docket (available at www.regulations.gov, docket number FTA-2013-0001).

Answer:

Yes, FTA is preparing to publish an official notice of public transportation resilience awards. This notice will include detailed further instructions and further guidance on the program.

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