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Emergency Relief Program FAQs

To view a set of frequently asked questions, select a topic and category based on your interest area. Perform a word search or choose a topic from the list.

Answer:

As an alternative to the competitive resilience NOFA, some projects may also be eligible for funding that FTA allocated to certain agencies for locally prioritized resilience projects on May 29, 2013. In general, these local priority resiliency funds were intended for resiliency improvements that are integrated with a repair project, or for stand-alone projects that are not complex and/or need to be completed quickly. Grantees should contact their regional office, which must approve local priority resiliency projects.

Answer:

Please see FTA’s recent Dear Colleague letter and policy guidance on this question. If the Federal recovery allocation plus any insurance proceeds received together exceed the total amount of estimated damages, FTA will reduce the recovery allocation to equal 100 percent of the estimated damage. A grantee may request that FTA adjust the total damage estimate by submitting evidence of additional damage or increased recovery costs.

Answer:

In accordance with the answer to the previous question, if a portion of funds are awarded for a project component that must be undertaken by an intercity passenger rail operator, those funds may be transferred to FRA for administration. If such a proposal is submitted as a single project, the applicant must clearly identify the portion of the project proposed to be administered by the intercity rail operator.

Answer:

In general, responses to the evaluation criteria should be concise enough to fit within the space provided on the supplemental form. Additional files may be submitted if necessary for documentation or backup, however, the supplemental form must still contain a complete summary of your response to the criteria. If additional documents are required (e.g. letters of funding commitment, excerpts from plans or studies, engineering documents), these should be referenced specifically in the response to the relevant evaluation criterion.

Answer:

In most instances, FTA's eligibility criteria are more flexible than FEMAs. We recommend that grantees first pursue FTA funding. However, if an expense is not eligible under the FTA program, grantees are free to pursue FEMA funds. FTA and FEMA have developed open lines of communication to ensure that project reimbursements are not duplicated and will assist grantees with identifying the proper source for reimbursement to the extent possible.

Answer:

If funding is withdrawn from a resilience project to the extent that a viable resilience project with independent utility will not be completed, costs incurred under pre-award authority for that project will not be eligible for reimbursement. 

Answer:

Regardless of the results of the risk assessment, FTA expects the recipient to complete the scope of the Resilience project applied for without expectation of additional Hurricane Sandy funding. FTA may require the recipient to identify additional funding sources if necessary.Regardless of the results of the risk assessment, FTA expects the recipient to complete the scope of the Resilience project applied for without expectation of additional Hurricane Sandy funding. FTA may require the recipient to identify additional funding sources if necessary.

Answer:

Any provider of public transportation service is eligible to apply. If your agency is not an active recipient of FTA funding, you must apply in coordination with a current recipient that is willing to receive and administer the award on your behalf. If funds are awarded, you would need to be a subrecipient of the award under the administration of the current FTA recipient. For such cases, applicants should simply provide a letter from a current recipient indicating their willingness to pass the award through to you as a subrecipient. If you are unsure of who can serve as a direct recipient of FTA funds, please contact your regional FTA office. In addition to larger transit operators, this could include State departments of transportation.

Answer:

Yes, however FTA will only participate in the scope of the project that was funded in the award announcement. In most cases, this scope corresponds with a proposed “scaled” option for the project. Other sources of funding would be required for the other elements of the project. If you are unsure what elements of the project are included in the award, please contact your regional office for additional guidance.

Answer:

If you are an eligible recipient and have eligible response and recovery expenses not yet reimbursed and you did not receive a pro-rated allocation in the March 29th allocation notice, you may be eligible for these funds. Please contact your regional office (either Region 1, 2 or 3) to apply for these Emergency Relief funds. FTA set-aside two percent, or $28,048,497, for affected recipients that suffered damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy and who may have outstanding expenses. If your request is approved, you will be asked to submit an electronic grant application with the regional office.

Answer:

It is reasonable to expect that transit agencies used (and continue to use) their own staff for response and recovery work. Agencies may have ongoing recovery work for which they continue to use their own forces, as opposed to contractors. Any hurricane response/recovery work done by your staff prior to January 29 would fall into Category 1, since the grantee is simply seeking reimbursement. However, if you have plans to continue to use your staff for recovery work that has not yet occurred, then those expenses are eligible under Category 3, as long as you can show documentation that the work is budgeted and ongoing. By budgeted, we mean an amendment to your budget that shows a line item for hurricane response, or something that shows you’ve moved staff off of regular tasks to hurricane response (Board meeting minutes, etc.). If you cannot show us that you have budgeted for that work prior to the 29th, then that work will still be eligible for reimbursement using the agency’s prorated allocation.

Answer:

FTA only allows a sole source procurement on the basis of “public exigency” or “emergency” during a national or regional emergency or disaster and during the days and weeks immediately following a national or regional emergency or disaster.

Answer:

Federal procurement regulations neither authorize nor prohibit recipients from approving multiple change orders in a single “blanket approval” action. Although this action is not specifically defined under federal procurement standards, approving multiple change orders in a single “blanket approval” would generally be discouraged, but is not prohibited. There may be situations in which such an action may be reasonable and appropriate. It is important to note that Federal procurement requirements do not explicitly recognize a contractual action termed "Blanket Change Order Approval."

If a transit agency’s applicable state and local procurement regulations or policies allow for blanket approvals and the procurement official followed the applicable regulation or policy, then the blanket approval could be a valid procurement method for that particular transit agency.  A transit agency using a blanket approval should identify its authority for doing so in the blanket approval and include the document in the project file.   Likewise, if a transit agency’s procurement regulations or policies do not allow for or address blanket approvals, then a blanket approval would not be a valid procurement method.   

Answer:

No. Section 5333(b) aka 13(c) does not apply to the FTA’s Emergency Relief program or funds allocated under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013

Answer:

Yes. As permitted by statute (49 U.S.C. 5324(d)(1)), FTA will determine the terms and conditions that apply to grants awarded under the ER Program. Accordingly, FTA requires utilization of integrity monitors for Sandy projects for recipients receiving over $100 million in funding in addition to the standard oversight program. Integrity monitoring is a project administration expense.

Answer:

Although Section 904(c) of the Disaster Relief Act requires that funds received under the Disaster Relief Act be expended within two years of obligation, OMB issued a waiver of this requirement for grants awarded under FTA’s Emergency Relief Program. In issuing this waiver, OMB stated an expectation that Federal agencies and grantees will work together to ensure that funds obligated under the Disaster Relief Act are expended in a timely manner.

Based on the complexity of projects we expect to be submitted, FTA expects to award funds for major capital projects that will take multiple years to complete. While there is not a defined timeframe in which these funds must be expended, all projects must be undertaken and completed in accordance with the project grant agreement and all identified milestones.

Answer:

FTA has received numerous inquiries regarding the 24 month timeframe. FTA is pursuing a blanket waiver from this requirement for Hurricane Sandy Emergency Relief projects. Further guidance will be provided once it is available.

Answer:

Although Section 904(c) of the Disaster Relief Act requires that funds received under the Disaster Relief Act be expended within two years of obligation, OMB issued a waiver of this requirement for grants awarded under FTA’s Emergency Relief Program. In issuing this waiver, OMB stated an expectation that Federal agencies and grantees will work together to ensure that funds obligated under the Disaster Relief Act are expended in a timely manner. Based on the complexity of projects selected, FTA expects to award funds for major capital projects that will take multiple years to complete. While there is not a defined timeframe in which these funds must be obligated and expended, all projects must be undertaken and completed in accordance with the project application and grant agreement and all identified milestones.

Answer:

Yes, but Grantees should consult regions on any special requirements for Sandy-grant budget revisions or amendments. Also, any grant modification that increases the federal funds (e.g. grant amendment) will need to comply with all Federal requirements unless the funds being added were part of the initial allocation for expenses within categories 1, 2, or 3.

Answer:

Yes, this is allowable, provided that the contract was compliant with all Federal requirements, including competitive procurement, and funds can be properly tracked and allocated to the relevant award.

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