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State Safety Oversight Program Certification FAQs

State Safety Oversight Program

SSO Certification Status Table

Does every state need to establish an SSO Program?

No. The SSO rule requires only those states – 30 in total – which operate rail transit systems to establish and certify an SSO Program. The SSO Certification Map identifies those states that are required to establish an SSO Program.

What are the SSO Program requirements for certification?

To achieve FTA certification, an SSO Program must meet several federal statutory requirements. To help clarify the SSO Program requirements, FTA distributed a Certification Toolkit to every SSO agency. The toolkit details the six SSO Program categories that each state is required to meet:

  1. SSO Agency independence
  2. General program requirements
  3. Enforcement authorities
  4. Investigations and audits
  5. SSO staffing, training, and qualification
  6. Program standard

What is the deadline for states to certify their SSO Program?

April 15, 2019. This deadline was established by the SSO final rule. FTA is prohibited by federal transportation law from granting waivers or extensions to the deadline.

What happens if a state misses the April 15, 2019 certification deadline?

If a state fails to meet the certification deadline, the FTA is prohibited by federal transportation law from obligating funds to any public transportation system or program throughout that entire state until certification is achieved.

Will FTA grant extensions to states that miss the deadline?

No. The FTA is prohibited by federal transportation law from from granting waivers or extensions to the April 15, 2019 deadline. 

Can states use existing grant funds to develop an SSO Program?

Yes, an SSO agency may use existing federal grant funds for reimbursement of operational and administrative costs incurred during the development of its SSO Program. Since 2013, FTA has provided approximately $90 million in SSO formula grant funds to help states develop and implement an SSO Program that meets federal requirements.

What do the stages reported on the SSO Certification Status Table mean?

The status table provides a snapshot of the SSO certification process in four stages:

  • Stage 1 – State is working on its submissions to FTA. Where applicable, legislation has not yet been enacted or executive action taken.
  • Stage 2 – State has submitted some requirements to FTA.
  • Stage 3 – State has submitted all required documents to FTA and is engaged in a dialogue with FTA to address comments and questions. Where applicable, all required legislation has been enacted.
  • Stage 4 (Certified) – State has successfully met all SSO Program requirements, including the resources to carry out the requirements, and has received FTA certification.

Which states still require legislative action prior to FTA certification? 

As of August 29, 2017, there are seven states that still require legislative or executive action prior to FTA certification: Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, and Tennessee.

The FTA is encouraging states to act quickly to enact any necessary legislation, statutes and regulations, particularly those states whose legislatures meet only part-time or biennially.

How often is the status table updated? 

The status table is updated quarterly. The date of the last update is posted on the table.