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Section 2: Federal Laws and Regulations

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The United States Congress authorizes traffic safety funds to be appropriated to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA apportions and distributes these funds to the states. The states obligate these funds through the annual state Highway Safety Plan (HSP), which is subject to NHTSA review and approval. See “Manuals and Reports” on the eGrants Help Page for a link to the current annual Texas Traffic Safety HSP.

The Texas Traffic Safety Program is primarily governed by federal regulations issued by NHTSA.

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The Highway Safety Act of 1966

The Texas Traffic Safety Program operates under the provision of the Highway Safety Act of 1966, 23 U.S.C. § 402, et seq., specifically § 402(b)(1).

Under Section 402, federal agencies are given considerable leeway to modify the traffic safety program as necessary. This authorization requires these programs to have certain features under the HSP before they are approved. These features are contained in the following federal regulations.

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Applicable Federal Laws, Regulations and Highway Safety Grant Funding Guidance

The following laws and regulatory items govern the daily administration of Traffic Safety Program grants at the district and state level. Administrators of Traffic Safety Program grants should be familiar with and follow each cited title and rule to effectively design and manage programs. Thorough knowledge of these regulations will reduce a majority of grant questions before they become problems.

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  • Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21): On July 6, 2012, MAP-21 was signed into law. MAP-21 restructured and made various changes to the highway safety grant programs administered by the NHTSA, providing $1.3 billion for highway safety grant programs. MAP-21 specifies a single application deadline for all highway safety grants and emphasizes the requirement that all states have a performance-based highway safety program designed to reduce traffic crashes and the resulting deaths, injuries, and property damage.
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  • Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act): The FAST Act funds surface transportation programs including, but not limited to, Federal-aid highways at over $305 billion for fiscal years (FY) 2016 through 2020. It is the first long-term surface transportation authorization enacted in a decade that provides long-term funding certainty for surface transportation. The FAST Act builds on the changes made by MAP-21.
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Basic Funding Eligibility

The basic funding eligibility listed below applies to NHTSA administered grants in accordance with 23 U.S.C., Sections 402 and 405, with revisions to Sections 154 and 164. Highway safety grants rescinded by MAP-21 are governed by the applicable implementing regulations at the time of the grant award.

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2 C.F.R. Part 200 Uniform Guidance

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has consolidated eight of its existing circulars into one document. This document, entitled 2 C.F.R. Part 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, is commonly referred to as the “Uniform Guidance.” The Uniform Guidance was published in the Federal Register on December 26, 2013, and took effect for the Texas Traffic Safety Program starting with the Fiscal Year 2016 grant cycle.

The Uniform Guidance combines eight previously separate sets of OMB guidance:

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  • OMB Circular A-133, Audits of States, Local Governments and Non-Profit Organizations.
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  • 2 C.F.R. Part 220 (formerly OMB Circular A-21), Cost Principles for Educational Institutions.
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  • 2 C.F.R. Part 225 (formerly OMB Circular A-87), Cost Principles for State, Local and Indian Tribal Governments.
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  • OMB Circular A-102, Grants and Cooperative Agreements with State and Local Governments.
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  • 2 C.F.R. Part 215 (formerly OMB Circular A-110), Uniform Administrative Requirements for Awards and Other Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations.
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  • 2 C.F.R. Part 230 (formerly OMB Circular A-122), Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations.
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  • OMB Circular A-50, Audit Follow-up.
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  • OMB Circular A-89, Federal Direct Program Assistance Information.

For FY 2016, the USDOT’s implementation of OMB Circular A-110 (The Common Rule), 49 C.F.R. Parts 18 and 19, were replaced by the Uniform Guidance as well.

With the Uniform Guidance, OMB’s goal is to:

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  • Streamline guidance for federal awards to ease administrative burden.
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  • Strengthen oversight over federal funds to reduce risks of waste, fraud and abuse.
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  • Focus grant policies on areas that emphasize the achievement of better grant outcomes at a lower cost.

Some key changes resulting from the Uniform Guidance include:

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  • Strengthening non-federal entity internal control.
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  • Targeting audit requirements on risk of waste, fraud and abuse.
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  • Raising the single audit threshold from $500,000 in federal awards per year to $750,000 in federal awards per year.
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  • Allowing non-federal entities to charge a de minimis rate of 10% of modified total direct costs if the entity does not have a federally negotiated indirect cost rate.
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