Chapter 3: Planning Program Administration

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Section 1: Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP)

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Overview

General Description. A Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) is a statement of work that identifies the planning priorities and activities to be carried out within the specific boundary of a designated metropolitan planning area. The department, in consultation with the MPO, develops a time line for developing the UPWP. Failure to adhere to the time line may result in a delay in the authorization for the MPO to incur costs.

At a minimum, a UPWP includes:

  • a description of the planning work and resulting products,
  • responsible organizations performing the work,
  • time frames for completing the work,
  • costs of the work, and
  • source(s) of funding.

NOTE: Federal regulations allow either a one- or two-year UPWP.

MPO Responsibilities. The MPO is responsible for developing a UPWP that meets the requirements of 23 CFR §450.308(c) and includes the goals, objectives, and tasks required of the metropolitan transportation planning process.

MPO Policy Board. The MPO's policy board must approve the MPO's proposed UPWP. After receiving the policy board's approval, the MPO submits the approved draft simultaneously to the district, TPP, and TxDOT’s Public Transportation Division ( PTN) no later than June 1 of each year. The three departmental offices coordinate, review, and comment on the MPO's draft UPWP. The department sends suggestions to the MPO.

The MPO policy board must approve and provide the UPWP to the department's three offices on or before the first Monday in August:

  • each year for a one-year UPWP, or
  • biennially for a two-year UPWP.

NOTE: The terms MPO policy board and MPO policy committee are used interchangeably.

UPWP Authorization. TPP coordinates the federal approval process of the UPWP with FHWA/FTA. After receiving the federal approvals, the UPWP is incorporated by reference into the existing planning contract (Article 7.1). This incorporation occurs when the approved UPWP refers to the existing, executed planning contract.

The effective date of each UPWP is October 1 of each year or the FHWA/FTA date of approval, whichever occurs later. Upon the effective date, the UPWP constitutes a new federal program and supersedes the previous UPWP. After October 1 of each year, TPP issues a letter of authorization establishing the effective date of work and the funds authorized to the MPO.

UPWP Revisions. If a revision to the UPWP is necessary that affects the original authorization, TPP may issue a revised letter of authorization as appropriate. If funding shown in the UPWP differs from the amount in the letter of authorization, the amount in the authorization letter prevails.

UPWP Amendments. Only the MPO policy board has the authority to provide approval of the UPWP for the area or subsequent amendments. Amendments to the UPWP must be coordinated between the board and the department.

Examples requiring amendments to the UPWP are:

  • actions that change the scope of work
  • actions that result in an increase or decrease in the amount of task funding
  • actions that affect the overall budget.

UPWP Minor Corrections. The MPO policy board may delegate approval authority for minor corrective actions. Examples include typographical, grammatical or syntactical corrections.

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Eligible Activities

UPWP Work. Because the UPWP is funded with federal metropolitan transportation planning funds, the MPO must incur costs only for work that is outlined in the UPWP, in accordance with 43 TAC §15.4 (b)(6) and 23 CFR §420.113(a).

Activities Within MAB. The use of federal metropolitan transportation planning funds must be limited to transportation planning activities affecting the transportation system within the metropolitan planning area boundary (MAB) as noted in 23 USC §134(e). Any other costs incurred for transportation planning activities outside the MAB will not be eligible for reimbursement.

Outside MAB Exception. If an MPO determines that data collection and analysis activities relating to land use, demographics, or traffic or travel information conducted outside the MAB affect the transportation system within the MAB, then those activities may be undertaken with federal planning funds. However, these activities must be specifically identified in an approved UPWP.

Eligible Corridor Activities. The use of federal transportation planning funds must be limited to corridor/subarea level planning, multimodal, or system-wide transit planning studies. Major investment studies and environmental studies are considered corridor level planning.

Ineligible Planning Activities. The use of federal transportation planning funds beyond environmental document preparation or for specific project-level planning and engineering (efforts directly related to a specific project instead of a corridor) is not allowed.

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Format

Required Format. The department, in cooperation with the Association of Texas Metropolitan Planning Organizations ( TEMPO), has developed a standard UPWP format to be used in accordance with 43 TAC §15.4(a)(4). A UPWP submitted in a different format will not be approved.

Example Format. The UPWP and subsequent amendments may be submitted via email. An example UPWP format is provided by this manual for informational purposes. TPP will provide an actual UPWP template to all Texas MPOs on an annual basis.

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Contents

The MPO should at minimum include the following items in the UPWP:

  • Identification of Tasks. Each task is identified as an element in the planning process and may contain one or more subtasks. Task identification includes a description of the following:
    • the project
    • previously completed work
    • methodology to accomplish the task
    • the product
    • a work schedule or timetable.
  • Budget. A budget will be included in the UPWP. The MPO may not incur costs until final approval of the UPWP is granted. The maximum amount payable will not exceed the amount authorized for that fiscal year.
  • Use of Consultants. To engage a consultant for one or more tasks, the UPWP must clearly indicate this intent, including a thorough description of the task(s) to be performed, estimated cost, and etc.
  • Task Responsibility. Identify the responsible agency for completing the task. If the MPO intends to engage a consultant, see above requirement.
  • Task Cost Estimate. Each task must include an estimated cost.
  • Task Funding Sources. The funding source or sources for each task must be shown along with the estimated non-federal participation amount (by fiscal year for 2-year UPWPs). MPOs should assure that PL funds are clearly identified as FHWA-provided funds and that Section 5303 funds are clearly identified as FTA-provided funds.
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Appendices

Each UPWP must have the following appendices as shown in the example UPWP:

  • Appendix A - Policy Committee Membership
  • Appendix B - Metropolitan Area Boundary Map (color map with date of Board approval)
  • Appendix C - Debarment Certification
  • Appendix D - Lobbying Certification
  • Appendix E - Certification of Compliance
  • Appendix F - MPO Self-Certification
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FTA 5303 Worksheet

The MPO must complete an FTA/TxDOT Section 5303 Worksheet and submit it along with the UPWP and all UPWP appendices. The worksheet must indicate the MPOs proposed budget costs for planning activities that will use FTA Section 5303 funds for the metropolitan planning process.

PTN is the office of primary responsibility for the latest version of the FTA/TxDOT Section 5303 Worksheet, but TPP will distribute the worksheet each year along with the latest version of the UPWP format. Explanations and contact information for assistance are available in the example FTA/TxDOT Section 5303 Worksheet.

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Self-Certification

As part of the UPWP development process, the department and the MPO shall annually self-certify to FHWA/FTA that the planning process is being:

  • addressed for major transportation management issues facing the area
  • conducted in accordance with all applicable requirements of 23 CFR §450.334.

See this manual's section on self-certification for more information.

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Reimbursements

Prior Approval. The MPO must obtain written approval from the department prior to incurring any costs for work outlined in the UPWP or any subsequent amendments. The department provides the official written approval to the MPO in a letter of authorization, which is sometimes referred to as a work order. Any cost incurred prior to the necessary approval is not eligible for reimbursement from federal transportation planning funds.

Conditions. The department’s reimbursement of any MPO-incurred cost is contingent upon the following:

  1. Sufficient federal funds are available to the department for making payments.
  2. The incurred cost is authorized in the UPWP. The maximum amount payable under this contract must not exceed the total budgeted amount outlined in the UPWP in accordance with 43 TAC §15.4(b)(7).
  3. The MPO has actually incurred the cost, and it meets the following criteria:
    1. is verifiable from MPO records;
    2. is not included as match funds for any other federally-assisted program;
    3. is necessary and reasonable for the proper and efficient accomplishment of program objectives;
    4. is the type of charge that would be allowable under OMB Circular A-87, Cost Principles for State, Local and Indian Tribal Governments; and
    5. is not paid by the department or federal government under another assistance program unless authorized to be used as match under that other federal or state agreement and the laws and regulations to which it is subject.

Requesting Reimbursements. The MPO may submit requests for reimbursement of authorized costs incurred on a semi-monthly basis, but no more than 24 times a year; and no less than monthly as expenses occur.

Request Information. Each request for payment will be submitted in a manner acceptable to the department, which includes at a minimum the following information:

  • UPWP budget category or line item
  • description of the cost
  • quantity
  • price
  • total.

Request Deadline. No later than December 31, the MPO must submit to the department all final request(s) for reimbursement from the fiscal year that ended three months prior on September 30.

Eligible Items. According to OMB Circular A-87, the costs of meetings and conferences, where the primary purpose is the dissemination of technical information, including meals, transportation, rental of meeting facilities and other incidental costs are allowable. Further, OMB Circular A-87 states that the costs are allowable if they are necessary and reasonable for the proper and efficient performance and administration of federal awards.

Meals Policy. Based on OMB circular A-87, the department established the following meals policy for MPOs to follow when purchasing meals (food and soft drinks) with metropolitan transportation planning funds (PL funds and Section 5303 funds):

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Situations

Conditions

  • MPO-Sponsored Meetings, or
  • Conferences

1. Primary purpose of situation is dissemination of technical information, and

2. Costs are necessary and reasonable for the proper and efficient performance and administration of planning funds.



NOTE: Costs of alcoholic beverages are unallowable.

Meals Documentation. To ensure that planning funds are spent appropriately, the districts and the MPOs are encouraged to adhere to the following practices:

  • If the MPO intends to use planning funds for the purchase of meals for a meeting, a notice should be sent to the district prior to any funds being expended. The notice should outline the nature of the meeting at which the meals are to be provided, and the estimated total cost of the meals.
  • Both entities should keep a record of the notice on file.

To assist the districts in establishing a process to implement the meals' policy, TPP has developed example wording for the purchase of meals with metropolitan planning funds.

In-State Travel. Reimbursement for in-state travel does not require prior departmental approval of the trip. Requests for reimbursement are submitted to the department using the TxDOT Form 132 Billing Statement.

Out-of-State Travel. The department must approve the use of federal transportation planning funds for travel outside of Texas by MPO staff and other agencies participating in the MPO planning process. Department approval must be provided to the MPO prior to incurring any costs associated with the actual travel (e.g., registiration fees).

Out-of State Travel Exceptions. The following out-of-state travel exceptions are treated as in-state travel expenses:

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If the travel is…

Treat it as…

at the request of the department

in-state travel expenses

to Arkansas by the Texarkana MPO staff

to New Mexico by the El Paso MPO staff



Elected Officials' Travel. Federal transportation planning funds may not be expended for travel costs incurred by elected officials.

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Revisions

When approved by the department, FHWA, and FTA, the UPWP becomes the statement of work and a contract for that fiscal year's budget. As such, any revision must be approved in the appropriate method:

Less Than 25%. If the proposed change will cause the estimated cost of one task to overrun/underrun by an amount less than 25 percent of the task total, but the total budget will not be exceeded due to an overrun/underrun in another task, the MPO is authorized to overrun/underrun, and no notice is required.

Greater Than 25%. If the proposed change will cause the estimated cost of one task to overrun/underrun by an amount greater than 25 percent of the task total, but the total budget will not be exceeded due to an overrun/underrun in another task, or if an increase in funding is requested, the following typical procedures can be used:

  1. The MPO Policy Board revises the UPWP and forwards the document to the district.
  2. The district reviews and forwards it to the TPP.
  3. TPP submits the revision to FHWA and FTA for written approval.

Significant Work Changes. If additional funding is requested but is not available, the additional work will not be approved. If the proposed change does not affect the task funding but represents a significant change in the scope, complexity, nature, or outcome of the task, the FHWA/FTA must approve the change.

Non-TMA or TMA Changes. By agreement with FHWA, if an attainment non-TMA MPO revises its UPWP, TPP will review and approve or reject the revision. Copies of approved amended UPWPs will be transmitted to FHWA, FTA, and PTN for information. In the case of TMAs, no work authorization will be issued by the department to the MPO prior to receiving FHWA/FTA approval of its UPWP or revision.

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Reporting (APER)

APER. To permit program monitoring and reporting, the MPOs must prepare and submit an Annual Performance and Expenditure Report ( APER) of progress to TPP no later than December 31 of each year. Refer to 23 CFR §420.117(b)(1). A uniform format for the annual report has been established by the department in cooperation with TEMPO. If task expenditures overrun or underrun a budgeted task amount by 25 percent or more, the annual performance and expenditure report must include an explanation as to why the overrun or underrun occurred.

APER Development. The MPO develops the APER and submits it to TPP through the district office. TPP in turn forwards the document to FHWA, FTA, and PTN. The report must at a minimum contain:

  • Comparison of actual performance with established goals.
  • Progress in meeting schedules.
  • Status of expenditures in a format compatible with the work program, including a comparison of budgeted amounts and actual cost incurred.
  • Cost overruns or underruns.
  • Approved work program revisions.
  • Other pertinent supporting data.
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Monitoring

Monitoring Requirement. In accordance with 49 CFR §18.40, the state DOT is responsible for monitoring all activities performed by its staff or by subrecipients of FHWA and FTA planning funds to assure that the work is being managed and performed satisfactorily and that time schedules are being met. FHWA and FTA are the grantors, TxDOT is the grantee, and the MPO is the subrecipient.

Monitoring Activities. The district office is responsible for monitoring the day to day performance of the MPO. Monitoring in general consists of evaluation of actual performance compared to established goals, schedules of progress, and work program revisions established in the UPWP. Monitoring also includes reviewing activity budgets and cost overruns or underruns.

District monitoring also involves attending meetings of technical and administrative committees, reviewing reports and records of meetings, and performing site visits to the MPO headquarters as well as possible audits of requests for payment.

On-Site Visits. An on-site visit is available as a management tool and the district may make site visits as frequently as needed; however, a minimum of quarterly visits is recommended. The on-site visit, which functions distinctly separate from attendance at committee meetings or other district contacts with the MPO, is conducted at the MPO headquarters to review source documents and or other administrative records. During a site visit, the district is authorized to:

  • Review MPO accomplishments during the period preceding the inspection.
  • Review the MPO’s management control systems, including purchasing, contracting, personnel, etc.
  • Verify MPO cost records including personnel time charges. See any of the example planning contracts Article 8, Compensation, 3(a).
  • Provide technical assistance as may be required.
  • Examine financial records periodically to determine that source documents are properly maintained.
  • Review the progress of the MPO in implementing the current UPWP.
  • Discuss potential problems or unanticipated situations.
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On-Site Monitoring Form

An on-site monitoring form ( Form 2370) in the TxDOT Forms System should be used to document on-site visits, and retained in district files. In the event of an unusual finding, a copy should be forwarded to TPP.

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TxDOT Oversight Responsibility Agreement

TPP and FHWA have signed an oversight responsibility agreement regarding attainment non-TMA MPOs. Following is a summary of the agreement's review and approval processes:

  • FHWA reviews and approves the initial UPWP. TPP reviews and approves all subsequent revisions and send copies to FHWA and FTA.
  • FHWA provides an obligation letter to the department for obligating the full unobligated balance to the MPOs. TPP manages and tracks the contingency amounts of each MPO. If an MPO revises its UPWP, the department reviews and approves or rejects the revision.
  • FHWA's reviews are not conducted unless TxDOT deems necessary by individual circumstances. The department provides documentation to ensure FHWA that the Joint Record of Review for the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) planning procedures are being followed.
  • TPP submits to FHWA/FTA a copy of the APER for each MPO.
  • The department reviews and approves all equipment purchases over $5000 in accordance with OMB Circular A-87.
  • FHWA and FTA conduct process reviews on the department's program management as deemed necessary.
  • The department implements necessary actions to carry out its oversight responsibilities.
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Records Retention

In general when grant support is continued or renewed at annual or other intervals, the retention period for each funding period is three years. The three years' starting date begins the on the day that the grantee or subrecipient submits to the awarding agency its single or last expenditure report for that period. Refer to 49 CFR §18.42.

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Audit

The MPO shall comply with the requirements of OMB Circular A-133, Audit Requirements for State and Local Governments, and shall promptly furnish a copy of any state auditor's report to the district and TPP. The MPO shall repay the department any funds determined ineligible for federal reimbursement.

As stated in the MPO planning contract, the state auditor may conduct an audit or investigation of any entity receiving funds from the state directly under a planning contract or indirectly through a related MPO subcontract. Acceptance of funds directly under the planning contract or indirectly through a related subcontract acts as acceptance of the authority of the state auditor. A state auditor is under the direction of the Legislative Audit Committee to conduct an audit or investigation in connection with those funds.

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