Section 3: Contract Standards

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Commission Approval

A highway improvement project must be authorized in a Commission Minute Order. This is usually an individual minute order or can be a series of MOs depending on the funding. However, when a project is included in the Unified Transportation Program (UTP), the Minute Order approving the UTP is the only Minute Order needed.

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Executive Director Approval

Some projects require Executive Director approval, but not specific Commission approval. Title 43 TAC §15.56 (d) states that the executive director is authorized to approve requests to finance an approved highway improvement project. An "approved highway improvement project" is defined as a highway improvement project on the state highway system identified in the statewide transportation plan (STP) or a regional transportation plan. The district's Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) is considered to be the regional plan. If the project is in the STP or the district's TIP, a separate minute order is not required.

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Special Approvals

Some types of circumstances and funding structures with the local government involve special approval from TxDOT’s Administration or the appropriate District Engineer. The requirements can be found in Title 43 TAC §15.52.

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Federal Funds and Direct State Costs

When federal funds are being used, it is TxDOT policy to provide an estimate of the direct state costs in the budget when reviewing construction, preliminary engineering, environmental, right of way, and utility work.

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State Funds and Off-system Projects

It is TxDOT policy, with limited exceptions, that no state funds will be expended on off-system projects.

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Projects in Economically Disadvantaged Counties

An economically disadvantaged county is one that has below average per capita taxable property value and income and above average unemployment. In evaluating a proposal for a highway improvement project with a local government that consists of all or a portion of an economically disadvantaged county, the Executive Director shall, for those projects in which the Commission is authorized by law to provide state cost participation, adjust the minimum local matching funds requirement after evaluating a local government's effort and ability to meet the requirement. Title 43 TAC §15.55.

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Outstanding Balance

When Contract Services receives a partially executed agreement, Contract Services will check the Financial Management Division’s website to see if the local government has any outstanding balance and how long the balance has been outstanding. If an outstanding balance exists with the local government, Contract Services will review the district’s attempts to collect the balance, the amount outstanding, and the impact of the project on mobility, and will obtain the Deputy Executive Director’s approval before fully executing the contract.

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Executed Agreement

A written agreement must be executed before TxDOT can expend money or resources on a project.

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Older Agreements Without Current Federal Requirements

When it is discovered that an agreement does not comply with current federal requirements, Contract Services will obtain a commitment from the district that the agreement will be amended or terminated and that work will not be performed under the present agreement. If the district does not provide the requested assurance, Contract Services will notify Administration.

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Withdrawal from the Project

A local government that withdraws from a project after an AFA is executed may still have funding responsibilities. The local government is responsible for payment of direct and indirect project costs incurred by TxDOT for the items of work in which it is participating.

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Document Retention

Contract Services is the office of record for all AFAs and amendments. The performing District/Division (D/D) maintains the file of record for all other documentation relating to the contract. The file of record is maintained the entire life of the asset and for the ensuing seven years or longer if audit issues or litigation occurs. This file is subject to audit and will be used in resolving contractual issues. If the AFA includes right of way or maintenance provisions, the file must be maintained indefinitely.

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