Section 4: InvoicesAnchor: #i1001234
With some noted exceptions below, districts are responsible for reviewing, approving, and disputing progressive and final invoices from railroad companies to be paid by TxDOT. When reviewing, the following guidelines are given:
- Compliance with agreement:
- Read and understand the terms in the agreement with the railroad company to verify when invoices may be paid.
- Verify if any cost participation is required by the railroad company, and if so, that this has been deducted on the invoice.
- Verify the project location, railroad milepost, and CSJ in the invoice match the project. In some cases, an invoice may have been charged to the wrong project.
- Check the dates for work performed on the invoice. The dates shown should be on or after the date shown on the applicable agreement or letter authorizing the labor or materials. If the work was performed prior to the proper authorization from TxDOT, contact TRF-RSS on how to proceed. In some cases, there may be provisions in the agreement for partial payment to be made to the railroad company.
- Common project steps include:
- System-wide Preliminary Engineering Agreement (FSP projects): Also known as the Diagnostic Study Authorization Letter Agreement, this provides authorization to the railroad company to perform diagnostic inspections and be reimbursed for labor and other preliminary activities.
- Letter Agreement (Maintenance projects): An executed letter agreement authorizes the railroad company to provide flagging. Most letter agreements specify a maximum number of days needed for flagging. Additional flagging would require further authorization from TxDOT.
- Preliminary Engineering (FSP & Construction projects): These letter agreements authorize the railroad company to attend project meetings, provide preliminary engineering, and develop cost estimates and wireline diagrams. On construction projects, the agreement may also authorize the railroad company to perform real estate services on the project.
- Authority to Order Materials (FSP, Construction, Replanking projects): On FSP projects, Authority to Order Materials is typically given when TRF-RSS issues the Exhibit B. Depending on the terms of the Exhibit B, it may or may not need to be signed by the railroad company. On construction projects, the District typically issues a signed letter to the railroad company authorizing the railroad company to order materials prior to installation at the project site. Alternatively, Authority to Order Materials may be provided within the C&M Agreement or could be a separate letter issued to the railroad company by TRF-RSS. On replanking projects, Authority to Order Materials is typically issued by TRF-RSS as part of a Project Notice or Force Account Agreement for the replanking work.
- Work Order (FSP, Construction, Replanking projects): The Work Order authorizes the railroad company to provide necessary labor for installation. On some construction projects, a Work Order may not be required to authorize flagging or inspection work. The C&M Agreement will clarify if a Work Order is required. A Work Order may be provided in the transmittal letter to the railroad company with the fully executed C&M Agreement.
- Project Completion Letter (FSP, Construction, Replanking projects): The Project Completion Letter is issued to the railroad company by the District to verify that the project has passed final inspection and the railroad company should submit a final invoice within a specified time. The letter serves as justification to pay the final invoice and close out the project with FIN.
- Track overall amount invoiced by the railroad company
against the estimate in the railroad agreement. If the amount invoiced
exceeds the amount in the estimate, one of the following scenarios
may be occurring:
- The estimate provided by the railroad company did not properly account for all labor or materials. In this case, a revised estimate may be needed from the railroad company or payment may be withheld until a resolution is reached.
- The scope of work needed by the railroad company was not sufficiently accounted for during design of the project. For example, the number of mobilizations needed for the railroad company to install/relocate temporary signals was not considered when the traffic control plan was developed. Replanking in half-width sections would also cause multiple mobilizations. Another example would be that the number of days of flagging was underestimated by the designer. In these scenarios, invoices should be approved when total cost to the railroad company significantly exceeds what was shown on the estimate. Written notification from the railroad company describing the scenario should precede invoice submittal.
- Construction change orders may have impacted the services needed from the railroad company. For example, an unknown utility has caused rework by the railroad company or construction issues have caused the need for additional flagging. In these scenarios, invoices should be approved when total cost to the railroad company significantly exceeds what was shown on the estimate. Written notification from the railroad company describing the scenario should precede invoice submittal.
- Check progressive invoices against previous invoices submitted for the same project to verify that the railroad company is not double invoicing. Verify that labor provided does not match dates from previous invoices and that the same materials have not been previously invoiced.
- Various rates shown on the invoice do not need to be verified.
These rates may be audited by the FHWA or other entity and are not
the responsibility of the District to verify. Some of these rates
- overhead/Federal Highway Labor Rates/Additive Rates (unless no audited rate)
- insurance rates
- equipment vehicle rates
- billable percentage
- per diem rates
- hourly labor rates
- shipping and handling rates.
- Profit should not be charged by the railroad company, but is acceptable for a railroad contractor. If a profit rate is included, verify it matches what was shown in the project estimate.
- A maximum 5% overhead rate may be charged for a contractor or railroad company that does not have an audited rate.
- Invoice clerk charges should not be disputed unless the hours shown seem unreasonably high. Typically, only a few hours should be shown per invoice.
- For materials invoiced, if an area office inspector, District Railroad Coordinator, or TxDOT contractor was present, a journal entry should verify approximate quantities of materials used. Smaller items, such as ballast, wire, etc. do not need to be verified for quantity. Larger items, such as foundations, gates, LEDs, cantilevers, mast flashers, cabins, etc. should be verified with journal entries and against the original estimate. If an inspector was not present, and the railroad company had a valid Work Order, a field visit after receiving the invoice may verify materials.
- For materials invoices, inspected materials on the job site serves as justification for payment. However, if materials are invoiced prior to being shipped to the job site, the invoice should be paid provided Authority to Order Materials was given to the railroad company. If materials fail inspection at a future date, payment can be withheld on future invoices until the issue is resolved.
- For labor invoiced, verify that the number of laborers shown on the invoice matches what is shown in a construction diary if available. It is not necessary to verify labor hours, as this is not realistic, and the total hours shown may not match actual due to railroad union rules.
- Actual labor is paid, not what is shown in the estimate. For example, if a letter agreement includes an estimate for flagging at $1000/day, and an invoice shows $1200/day, there may be multiple reasons for the discrepancy. Rates may have increased since the agreement was executed, or the flagger was required to work overtime or on a weekend.
- Travel will be invoiced when railroad company employees must travel to and from a job site. This will include per diem, lodging, and travel costs such as mileage, parking fees, toll fees, etc. Lodging invoices should be at a location within one hour of the project site.
- Some invoices may include credit card, lodging, and meal expenses for an entire month. However, this does not mean that all of the expenses are being charged to the invoice. Check the invoice details to verify which travel expenses are actually being charged to the project.
- For preliminary engineering invoices, a cost estimate and/or wireline diagram serves as justification for payment. In many cases, other labor may be charged to preliminary engineering such as a local manager’s time for attending project meetings, performing site visits, etc. If an invoice for preliminary engineering is received prior to receiving an estimate and/or wireline diagram from the railroad company, the invoice should be paid provided the total charges for preliminary engineering are in accordance with the PE Agreement. If the estimate and wireline diagram are not received in a timely manner and a preliminary engineering invoice has been paid, contact TRF-RSS for resolution. Preliminary engineering invoices are reviewed and approved by TRF-RSS.
- Project flaggers may be governed by railroad union rules. This means that even if a flagger was not on the project site for eight hours, eight hours will still be invoiced. Keep in mind that a flagger must arrive at a job site before work begins and stay after the work for the day ends, in order to set up and remove warning devices along the railroad to warn oncoming trains of downstream construction work. Time is also charged for travel to and from the job site. If a flagger is needed for 30 days or longer, and it is determined the flagger is not needed, the flagger will still need to be paid even when the contractor is not working. In the event the flagger is not needed when scheduled, the area office will need to determine if TxDOT will be reimbursed by the contractor for flagging charges due to a problem created by the contractor.
- On replanking projects, TRF-RSS has Master Agreements with some of the railroad companies authorizing a cost per track foot (currently UPRR and BNSF). On these invoices, verify that the correct amount is included on the invoice and that work was sufficiently completed.
- On larger construction projects, the railroad company may create multiple internal work orders for track work, signals work, inspection, etc. In these cases, it is helpful to create a spreadsheet to track all of the railroad work order numbers from the railroad company and check off when a final invoice is received under each railroad work order. A final invoice under a TxDOT construction project does not necessarily mean it is the final invoice to be received from the railroad company for the entire TxDOT project since other railroad work orders may still be open.
- Some construction projects may require a real estate fee to be paid to the railroad company. Examples could include new overpasses built over a railroad, or pipe and wire installations under the railroad tracks. These invoices are reviewed and approved by TRF-RSS after negotiation with the railroad company and in accordance with the fee shown in the C&M Agreement.
- On FSP projects designated as crossing closure projects, TxDOT is invoiced by the local government. These invoices are reviewed and approved by TRF-RSS and not by the districts. Invoices are to be paid after the work to close the crossing and any additional work identified in the Crossing Closure Agreement on adjacent streets has been completed by the local government and verified by the Area Office. The invoice is paid in accordance with the amount shown in the Crossing Closure Agreement between TxDOT, the railroad company, and the local government.
- Contractor Right-of-Entry fees are approved by CST in accordance with the fee shown in the Right-of-Entry Agreement.
Invoices are sent from the railroad company to FIN and forwarded to the appropriate District Railroad Coordinator. Invoices are subsequently approved, disputed with appropriate justification, or forwarded over to TRF-RSS or CST for approval (depending on the type of invoice). Only employees with invoice signature authority are allowed to approve invoices by sending an appropriate email to the Finance Division Voucher Processing Section.
Invoices are paid or disputed within 30 days of submittal. If an invoice is disputed, the District contacts the railroad company directly with an e-mail copy to FIN and TRF-RSS. For questions regarding invoice reviews or disputes, districts are encouraged to contact TRF-RSS.
All approved invoices are uploaded into the TRIMS Project Management Module by the approving party.