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Section 9: Public Information and Education

Introduction

The role of Public Information and Education (PI&E) is to make the public aware of traffic safety issues and practices and their benefits. PI&E activities support and complement the activities of other programs by:

  • promoting compliance with laws and enhancing enforcement efforts
  • building public support for programs
  • informing motorists of safe driving habits.

Traffic safety projects can be enhanced through the effective use of PI&E.

This section describes the procedures and regulations (both state and federal) that affect the production and use of PI&E materials.

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Public Information and Educational (PI&E) Materials

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued significantly revised guidance regarding PI&E materials which became effective on January 9, 2016. See the NHTSA Memorandum on the Use of NHTSA Funds to Purchase Items for Distribution for more information.

Promotional Material

No promotional items or memorabilia are allowable costs and cannot be used as match under federal grants. Use of NHTSA grant funds to purchase promotional items or memorabilia is illegal and could result in a Management Review finding and the requirement to repay the misused funds.

An unallowable promotional item is an item whose purpose is to be used as an incentive to increase goodwill, or is a giveaway. Distribution of items where the recipient keeps the item after the event (whether to members of the public at a State Fair, to groups at a training event, or to police officers to maintain partnerships) is never a necessary expense for performance of projects under the grant.

Subgrantees may use state funds or privately collected funds/private sponsorships to purchase promotional items subject to applicable state laws and policies. Items donated by private entities are considered program income.

Educational Material

Any use of NHTSA grant funds must support traffic safety goals. When determining whether to purchase educational materials, a state or subgrantee should use good judgment as a responsible caretaker of tax dollars intended to support traffic safety. As always, all costs charged to NHTSA highway safety grants must be within the scope of the grant, address a highway safety problem, and help meet performance measures. Paper, pamphlets, flash drives and CD-ROMs that contain educational materials are allowable because their purpose is to contain and convey educational information.

In order to be considered educational, distributed material must provide substantial information and educational content (not merely a slogan) to the public and have the sole purpose of conveying that information. If a subgrantee chooses to provide educational content on a flash drive or CD-ROM, that device must be an economical method of conveying the information.

Examples of allowable educational materials include traffic safety themed coloring books, activity books, pamphlets, brochures, posters, flyers, etc.

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Production Approval Required

All newly developed PI&E materials using federal or state funds must be submitted to the TxDOT Traffic Operations Division - Traffic Safety Section (TRF-TS) for written approval by a Project Manager prior to final production.

Reproduction of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or other federal government endorsed material already approved is permissible without TxDOT approval. The items must, however, be included in the grant agreement objectives and budget.

For more information, see the subheadings later in this section entitled “Criteria for Production Approval,” “Requesting Approval,” and “Review and Approval.”

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Limitations on Purchase of Advertising

The limited purchase of media time or space (television and radio time, print and billboard space) for campaigns is permitted in extraordinary circumstances.

Only TxDOT media vendors that are selected through a separate competitive process can purchase paid media-related projects or activities.

Costs associated with the planning, purchase, printing, and distribution of PI&E materials must be an integral part of an approved traffic safety activity or project.

Federally-funded public service announcements must be closed-captioned.

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Ownership of Art Work

All finished or unfinished drawings, art work, designs, etc. prepared by a subgrantee must become the property of TxDOT upon request. This is a requirement in all grant agreements (Article 20 — Texas Traffic Safety Program Grant Agreement General Terms and Conditions).

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Use of Educational Items

Educational items can be used for a project to enhance awareness of an issue and provide a reminder message for the recipient after the activity has been completed. When educational items are included in a project’s activities, a plan outlining the purpose of the items must be included in the grant and a supplemental request must be submitted for approval in eGrants. The plan should include the following:

  • activity
  • educational item type
  • quantity
  • cost
  • targeted audience
  • explanation of how the activity will help meet the objective of the project, and
  • explanation of how the results of the activity will be used and reported.

To assist with tracking the distribution of material, districts and subgrantees should use the PI&E Material Distribution Form described later in this section under “Forms,” to record the items given out. For more information, see “Inventory Records” later in this section.

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Criteria for Production Approval

For a subgrantee to obtain TRF-TS approval for PI&E material, the following conditions must be met:

  • The material must be an allowable cost item in the grant agreement budget.
  • A plan outlining the use of the material must be included in the grant agreement and a supplemental request must be submitted for approval in eGrants. The plan must include the item, purpose, quantity, cost, targeted audience, how the activity will help meet the project objective, and how the results will be used and reported.
  • The material must be relevant to the objectives stated in the agreement.
  • The information must be accurate, current, and technically correct.
  • The material design and message must be appropriate to the intended audience.
  • The material must not conflict with Texas Traffic Safety Program priorities, objectives, or directives.
  • Dated material (material with a year or date printed on it) should be produced in a quantity appropriate for the size of the audience so it can be distributed within the specified time frame.
  • The quantity must be cost effective and sufficient to meet the objectives stated in the grant agreement.
  • The activity where the items will be distributed must be appropriate to the objective and the audience.
  • Each item must display the approved “Save a Life™” logo. Items that are too small for the logo must display one of the following credit lines (whichever is appropriate):
    • “In cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation”
    • “Texas Department of Transportation.”

NOTE: Omission of the logo requires TxDOT TRF-TS approval.

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Requesting Approval

When federal or state grant funds are budgeted for PI&E material, a plan will be included in the grant agreement or by using the PI&E Material Approval Checklist. This plan should be discussed during the negotiation phase of the grant proposal process. Requirements for the subgrantee should be reviewed, including policies, procedures, and reporting.

Material Approval Checklist. When a material production request is developed, it must be completed by using the PI&E Material Approval Checklist. The checklist is located under “Supplemental Approvals,” and can be found under “Examine Related Items” (beneath the RFR reporting periods). To submit a PI&E Material Approval Checklist, follow the steps below.

  1. Select “Create New” under “Supplemental.”
  2. Select “I Agree” when prompted “Are you sure you want to create a Supplemental Report?”
  3. Click on “View, Edit and Complete Forms.”
  4. Choose the “PI&E Materials Plan.”
  5. Complete and save the form.
  6. Complete the checklist request process by changing the status of the form (found under “Change the Status”) to “SR Submitted.”
  7. Once the status of the request has been changed to “SR Submitted,” the request will be electronically forwarded to the appropriate Project Manager for review.

Statewide Subgrantee. Statewide subgrantees obtain approval for material production by submitting material art work (does not have to be in camera-ready form), or a copy of the items to be reproduced to TRF-TS headquarters in Austin. The request must include the item, quantity, audience, purpose, and estimated cost.

Local Subgrantee. Local subgrantees obtain approval for material production by submitting material art work (does not have to be in camera ready form), or a copy of the item to be reproduced, to the appropriate TxDOT Traffic Safety Specialist (TSS). The request must include the item, quantity, audience, purpose and estimated cost.

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Review and Approval

When a material production request is received at TRF-TS headquarters in Austin, the appropriate program area manager reviews and approves it for state subgrantees with limited distribution or for statewide distribution. TSSs review and approve material production requests for local projects. The Project Manager will approve the request through eGrants by changing the request status to “SR Approved.” Upon receiving this approval, the subgrantee may proceed with production. If the request is denied by TRF-TS, the subgrantee will be notified by receiving a status of the request stating “SR Denied.”

Once a subgrantee has produced and received an item, they must send one copy of the item to TRF-TS headquarters in Austin, unless otherwise requested.

For more information on the PI&E material production approval process, see the Supplemental Approvals Flow Chart.

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Local Participation Important

Participation at the local level is important to the effectiveness of statewide campaigns. TRF-TS headquarters in Austin will develop a plan for conducting campaigns that includes the role of the TSSs and other local organizations.

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Outside-of-TxDOT Participation

TxDOT should include other organizations in promotions and campaigns. These groups may include police departments, schools, non-profit groups, businesses, and subgrantees.

When other organizations receive material from TxDOT to conduct activities or participate in promotions, they will be required to fulfill obligations for maintaining distribution records and report such distribution to TxDOT. These requirements should be fully discussed with the organizations prior to conducting events.

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Obtaining PI&E Material

Outside organizations may receive material from TRF-TS to conduct their own activities or to enhance TRF-TS activities. To do so, the organization should contact either the TSS or TRF-TS headquarters in Austin and fill out any required forms. In receiving PI&E material, the organization must agree to track all material distributed and ensure that the items are used for the purposes intended.

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District Inventory

Each TSS will be responsible for developing material inventory guidelines for all PI&E items. These guidelines should include coordination with other district employees who receive, store, maintain, or distribute the items.

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Receiving Materials

Upon receipt of PI&E materials, the TxDOT TSS will verify that:

  • the quantity is correct as reported by the source
  • the vendor has met all packaging and shipping requirements
  • items are in satisfactory condition and not damaged, and
  • items have arrived when expected.

For items produced outside of TxDOT, the TSS must fill out a receiving report and return it to TRF-TS headquarters in Austin. Instructions for this will be sent out in the distribution and delivery notice. For material printed within TxDOT, a receiving report is not required, but the TSS will verify the quantity received.

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Inventory Records

TSSs, Program Managers, subgrantees, and outside organizations will maintain records of all PI&E materials received and distributed.

The PI&E Materials Distribution Form, described under the subheading “Forms” later in this section, is an integral part of the inventory.

This record should be maintained until the supply of the material is depleted and then kept in the office for seven years after the project ends or until any disputes are resolved.

Requests to districts for PI&E materials should be in writing. TSSs will keep these requests on file. Whenever possible, the TSS should also obtain a letter from the person receiving the items reporting on the use of the items.

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Forms

The following table explains the various forms used for keeping records, fulfilling orders, and reporting on PI&E activities.

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Form Name

Purpose

Inventory Log Sheet (required)

Filled out by the district TSS or subgrantee upon receipt of material by TRF-TS headquarters or a district TSS. Allows for entries when material is distributed.

PI&E Material Distribution Form (as required)

Used when quantities of 100 or more are distributed to individuals or organizations.



All PI&E Forms are located in the “General Tool Box” section on the eGrants Help Page.

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Professional Service Contracts and Subcontracts

Contracts and subcontracts for professional services must include information related to the issues raised in this section, including material approval, distribution lists, and reporting on activities.

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Sources for PI&E Material

There are several resources for obtaining PI&E material, including the TxDOT TRF-TS headquarters in Austin or TSSs located in the districts, in-house productions, other state agencies, organizations, non-profit organizations, businesses, state subgrantees, or local organizations. Although distribution lists are only required for material received from TRF-TS, it is advisable to maintain and track all material received, no matter the source.

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PI&E Workgroup

A PI&E workgroup will be utilized to provide recommendations regarding PI&E materials.

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