Chapter 4: Grant Development and Execution

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Section 1: Project Scoring

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Each year, during the project scoring process, review teams composed of Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Program Managers and Traffic Safety Specialists (TSSs) score general traffic safety project proposals according to the criteria described in this section. Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) proposals are scored automatically through the TxDOT Traffic Safety Electronic Grants Management System (eGrants). Approved proposals are then incorporated into the annual Highway Safety Plan (HSP).

The project selection teams are provided access to all general traffic safety proposals through eGrants. After evaluating the needs of various communities and statewide concerns and determining the quality of traffic safety problem identification, the proposed solution, and the proposed budget, a Traffic Safety Project Proposal Score Sheet is used to score each project against a number of selected criteria that are based on each element of the project proposal. The criteria are the same regardless of geographic coverage (local, multi-county, state, etc.).

The evaluations are conducted on the basis of the threats identified in the problem identification, the reasonableness of the problem solution, and other factors pertinent to the resolution of the identified problem. If a problem and solution are considered worthy of inclusion in the HSP, but the budget is considered inappropriate, the negotiation for project budget development will occur prior to HSP development.

A range of point values is assigned to most elements of the project proposal and a range of criteria responses is also provided to help the scorer determine the strength of the proposal. After initial scores are assigned, a multiplier is applied based on the relative importance of the criterion to the overall proposal, and a final score is awarded to each scoreable criterion.

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Scoring Teams

Scoring teams are comprised of TxDOT Traffic Operations Division - Traffic Safety Section (TRF-TS) Program Managers, TSSs and other staff. Individuals on a scoring team serve one of the two functions identified below:

Reviewer - Reviewers assigned to a scoring team are responsible for scoring assigned proposals within a designated time period. Proposals can be scored via a computer with internet access that meets the system requirements specified on the eGrants login page. Scoring consists of:

  • adding internal comments to any of the proposal pages (Reviewers do not combine comments on one page, but post comments directly on the page in question.)
  • selecting the appropriate response to score each question
  • saving the score sheet
  • notifying the appropriate Team Leader upon completion of their scoring prior to final submission of their scores. A pre-scoring conference call is held with each scoring team.

Team Leader - The Team Leader does not score proposals and is responsible for organizing/conducting conference calls with their assigned scoring team. A Team Leader’s duties consist of:

  • serving as the point of contact for questions from the team and coordinating responses from reviewers during the scoring process
  • checking the progress of the team during the scoring period
  • reviewing proposal internal comments submitted by the reviewer to ensure they are grammatically correct and factually appropriate. The Team Leader is not, in any way, to persuade anyone to change their score or opinion about a proposal.

NOTE: All TRF-TS staff must sign a Texas Traffic Safety Program Non-Disclosure & Conflict of Interest Certification Agreement each year at the beginning of the proposal scoring process.

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After scoring of all general traffic safety projects is complete, the TRF Planner tabulates the average of all scores and places the projects, along with all STEP projects scored by the eGrants system, on a draft proposed project list for further review and prioritization. Priorities are assigned based on point scores, rankings, past performance grades, and the estimated amount of federal dollars that will be available for the HSP for the coming fiscal year.

Scoring teams indicate the recommended funding for the project and provide a rationale statement if the recommended amount is lower than the amount requested in the proposal. In no case can an amount higher than that requested in the proposal be recommended.

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Scoring Criteria

Scoring team members will review and evaluate each general traffic safety proposal for applicability to Texas and community traffic safety problems. Each qualifying project proposal will be scored based on the following criteria:

  • strength of problem identification supported with verifiable, current, and appropriate documentation of the state or local traffic safety problem
  • quality of the proposed solution plan
  • realistic objectives, performance measures, targets/goals and activities
  • cost eligibility
  • percent of matching funding proposed, and
  • reasonable and necessary budget.

STEP proposal identification will be scored based on the number of KAB crashes (K = killed, A = incapacitating injury, B = non-incapacitating injury) per 10,000 population from the preceding year’s population data established from the Population Estimating Program published by the Texas State Data Center and Office of the State Demographer.

Other scoring criteria for STEP projects include:

  • the proposed STEP indicator
  • the proposed matching contribution
  • the proposed number of Public Information and Education (PI&E) objectives.

TRF-TS staff will review each STEP proposal after they are scored by the eGrants system to ensure that:

  • all information on the required proposal pages is complete and meets minimum acceptable TRF-TS standards
  • project target numbers appear reasonable based on the baseline numbers supplied in the proposal
  • any required attachments have been submitted with the proposal
  • all budgeted items are necessary and reasonable for the project
  • the TxDOT budget amount does not exceed the maximum amount allowable based on the proposing community’s population.

TRF-TS staff reviewing STEP project proposals will add internal comments to any of the proposal pages, if warranted, to assist the Program/Project Manager in project negotiations.

Subgrantee Past Performance Grade Review

The subgrantee’s prior performance and grade will be reviewed as a component of the subgrantee’s “demonstrated effectiveness” in providing traffic safety projects and will be considered during the awarding of projects. With funding being cut across all federal/state agencies, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it is especially important that grants be awarded to those agencies that have proven to be capable of carrying out the terms and conditions of their awards and that have made a positive impact to the Traffic Safety Program.

After all proposals are scored, the TRF Planner will check the proposing agency’s performance grade for the project’s previous grant period. Agency projects that received a grade of A, B, or C will be determined to have provided sound performance in the administration of the grant during the previous grant period.

Agency projects that received a grade of D should not be awarded a grant during the current year’s RFP process unless it is determined to be in the best interest of TRF-TS to do so. In these cases, the agency will be considered a “high risk” subgrantee and will be expected to demonstrate improved performance during the first three months of the grant period.

Agency projects that received a grade of F should not be funded through the current RFP cycle.

NOTE: All first-year traffic safety projects will be considered neutral in the grading process and will be viewed as receiving a grade of C the prior year.

Agency project grades for the prior year can also be used in determining grant awards in certain circumstances. For instance, if two proposals competing for a similar project have an identical score (through the TRF RFP scoring process) and funding is limited, the agencies’ prior year’s performance grades may be used to determine the agency that is to be funded. A grade of A will beat a grade of B, a grade of B will top a grade of C, etc. If the (letter) grades of the agencies are the same, then TRF-TS staff will view the numerical grade (created by eGrants) to determine the award.

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Scoring Sheets

Both the General Traffic Safety Proposal Score Sheet and the STEP Proposal Score Sheet are located on TxDOT Traffic Safety Request for Proposal (RFP) Page.

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Process Overview

The following table lists the steps a typical grant agreement follows from negotiation to execution. Also shown are the parties responsible for each step of the process and the section of this chapter explaining each step.

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Responsible Parties


Project Negotiation

Subgrantee and Project Manager (see Section 2 of this chapter)


Grant Preparation

Subgrantee (see Section 3 of this chapter)


Subgrantee Approval

Subgrantee (see Section 4 of this chapter)



TRF Project Managers, including TSSs (see Section 5 of this chapter)


TxDOT Approval

Districts, TRF, or the Executive Director or his or her designee (see Section 5 of this chapter)



All parties (see Section 6 of this chapter)


Amendment (if necessary)

All parties (see Section 7 of this chapter)

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