The current FTA grant approval processes were developed and revised over many years. The review and approval processes have evolved to meet changing demands and programs, and have also become more complicated. Previous research on examining issues associated with the grant processes include NCHRP Research Results Digest 320: Current State Issues with Implementing FTA Section 5310 and 5311 , and NCHRP RRD 314: State DOT Staff Resources for Administering FTA Programs. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has also published related assessments of various grant management programs.
The objective of this research is to examine approaches for improving the FTA grant approval processes particularly as it relates to streamlining applications and releasing funds to agencies quickly. More broadly, the research will examine how transportation funding approval processes and approaches may be applied to transit projects and FTA funding processes. The researchers will examine different grant program models, approaches and practices in use by other agencies with the USDOT (e.g., FHWA and FAA) as well as other relevant grant-administering programs. The research will seek to identify existing process limitations and barriers as well as the potential benefits to streamlining opportunities. The researchers will seek to identify processes that have expedited approval processes using various process tools such as programmatic agreements, pre-defined scopes of work, standardized specifications, recurring and routine procurements, standards for other recurring and routine activities, and “grouping” projects with similar scopes of work.