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Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program; Florida DOT Audit #2 Report

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program; Florida DOT Audit #2 Report

Nicole R. Nason
Federal Highway Administration
22 August 2019


[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 163 (Thursday, August 22, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 43863-43868]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-18092]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

[FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2019-0012]


Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program; Florida DOT 
Audit #2 Report

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), U.S. Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice, request for comment.

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SUMMARY: The Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program allows a 
State to assume FHWA's environmental responsibilities for review, 
consultation, and compliance for Federal highway projects. When a State 
assumes these Federal responsibilities, the State becomes solely 
responsible and liable for the responsibilities it has assumed, in lieu 
of FHWA. This program mandates annual audits during each of the first 4 
years to ensure the State's compliance with program requirements. This 
is the second audit of the Florida Department of Transportation's 
(FDOT) performance of its responsibilities under the Surface 
Transportation Project Delivery Program (National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) Assignment Program). This notice announces and solicits 
comments on the second audit report for the FDOT.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before September 23, 2019.

ADDRESSES: Mail or hand deliver comments to Docket Management Facility: 
U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W12-
140, Washington, DC 20590. You may also submit comments electronically 
at www.regulations.gov. All comments should include the docket number 
that appears in the heading of this document. All comments received 
will be available for examination and copying at the above address from 
9 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. 
Those desiring notification of receipt of comments must include a self-
addressed, stamped postcard or you may print the acknowledgment page 
that appears after submitting comments electronically. Anyone can 
search the electronic form of all comments in any one of our dockets by 
the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the 
comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, or labor 
union). The DOT posts these comments, without edits, including any 
personal information the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as 
described in the system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can 
be reviewed at www.dot.gov/privacy.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Marisel Lopez Cruz, Office of 
Project Development and Environmental Review, (407) 867-6402, 
marisel.lopez-cruz@dot.gov, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. 
Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 
20590, or Mr. David Sett, Office of the Chief Counsel, (404) 562-3676, 
david.sett@dot.gov, Federal Highway Administration, Department of 
Transportation, 60 Forsyth Street 8M5, Atlanta, GA 30303. Office hours 
are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except 
Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access

    An electronic copy of this notice may be downloaded from the 
specific docket page at www.regulations.gov.

Background

    The Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program, codified at 23 
U.S.C. 327, commonly known as the NEPA Assignment Program, allows a 
State to assume FHWA's responsibilities for environmental review, 
consultation, and compliance for Federal highway

[[Page 43864]]

projects. When a State assumes these Federal responsibilities, the 
State becomes solely liable for carrying out the responsibilities it 
has assumed, in lieu of FHWA. Effective December 14, 2016, FDOT assumed 
FHWA's responsibilities for environmental review and the 
responsibilities for reviews under other Federal environmental 
requirements.
    Section 327(g) of Title 23, U.S.C., requires the Secretary to 
conduct annual audits to ensure compliance with the memorandum of 
understanding during each of the first 4 years of State participation 
and, after the fourth year, monitor compliance. The results of each 
audit must be made available for public comment. A final version of the 
first audit report was published in the Federal Register on August 27, 
2018, at 83 FR 43726. This notice announces the availability of the 
second audit report for the FDOT and solicits comments on the same.

    Authority:  Section 1313 of Public Law 112-141; Section 6005 of 
Public Law 109-59; 23 U.S.C. 327; 23 CFR 773.

    Issued on: August 15, 2019.
Nicole R. Nason,
Administrator, Federal Highway Administration.

Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program

Draft FHWA Audit #2 of the Florida Department of Transportation

May 2017 to April 2018

Executive Summary

    This is the second audit of the Florida Department of 
Transportation's (FDOT) assumption of National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) responsibilities under the Surface Transportation Project 
Delivery Program. Under the authority of 23 U.S.C. 327, FDOT and the 
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) executed a memorandum of 
understanding (MOU) on December 14, 2016, whereby FHWA assigned, and 
FDOT assumed, FHWA's NEPA responsibilities and liabilities for Federal-
aid highway projects and other related environmental reviews for 
transportation projects in Florida.
    The FHWA formed a team in January 2018 to conduct an audit of 
FDOT's performance according to the terms of the MOU. The team held 
internal meetings to prepare for an on-site visit to the Florida 
Division and FDOT offices. Prior to the on-site visit, the team 
reviewed FDOT's NEPA project files, FDOT's response to FHWA's pre-audit 
information request (PAIR), and FDOT's NEPA Assignment Self-Assessment 
Summary Report. The team conducted interviews with FDOT and resource 
Agency staff and prepared preliminary audit results from September 24-
28, 2018. The team presented these preliminary observations to FDOT 
Office of Environmental Management (OEM) leadership on September 28, 
2018.
    The FDOT continues to develop, revise, and implement procedures and 
processes required to carry out the NEPA Assignment Program. Overall, 
the team found that FDOT is committed to delivering a successful NEPA 
Program. This report describes numerous successful practices, two 
observations, and one non-compliance observation. The FDOT has carried 
out the responsibilities it has assumed in keeping with the intent of 
the MOU and FDOT's application. Through this report, FHWA is notifying 
FDOT of the one non-compliance observation that require FDOT to take 
corrective action. By addressing the observations in this report, FDOT 
will continue to assure a successful program. The report concludes with 
the status of FHWA's non-compliance observation from the first audit 
review (Audit #1), including any FDOT self-imposed corrective actions.

Background

    The purpose of the audits performed under the authority of 23 
U.S.C. 327 is to assess a State's compliance with the provisions of the 
MOU as well as all applicable Federal statutes, regulations, policies, 
and guidance. The FHWA's review and oversight obligation entails the 
need to collect information to evaluate the success of the NEPA 
Assignment Program; to evaluate a State's progress toward achieving its 
performance measures as specified in the MOU; and to collect 
information for the administration of the NEPA Assignment Program. This 
report summarizes the results of the second audit in Florida. Following 
this audit, FHWA will conduct two annual audits. This second audit 
report includes a summary discussion that describes progress since the 
last audit.

Scope and Methodology

    The overall scope of this audit review is defined both in statute 
(23 U.S.C. 327) and the MOU (Part 11). An audit generally is defined as 
an official and careful examination and verification of accounts and 
records, especially of financial accounts, by an independent unbiased 
body. With regard to accounts or financial records, audits may follow a 
prescribed process or methodology and be conducted by ``auditors'' who 
have special training in those processes or methods. The FHWA considers 
this review to meet the definition of an audit because it is an 
unbiased, independent, official, and careful examination and 
verification of records and information about FDOT's assumption of 
environmental responsibilities.
    The team consisted of NEPA subject matter experts from FHWA offices 
in Arizona, Nebraska, Ohio, Texas, Georgia, and the District of 
Columbia, as well as staff from FHWA's Florida Division. The diverse 
composition of the team, as well as the process of developing the 
review report and publishing it in the Federal Register, are intended 
to make this audit an unbiased official action taken by FHWA.
    The team conducted a careful examination of FDOT policies, 
guidance, and manuals pertaining to NEPA responsibilities, as well as a 
representative sample of FDOT's project files. Other documents, such as 
the August 2018 PAIR responses, and FDOT's August 2018 Self-Assessment 
Summary Report, informed this review. The team interviewed FDOT staff 
and resource agency staff. This review is organized around six NEPA 
Assignment Program elements: Program management; documentation and 
records management; quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC); legal 
sufficiency; performance measurement; and training program. In 
addition, the team considered two cross-cutting focus areas: (1) 
Consistency between the NEPA documents and planning documents; and (2) 
Section 4(f) implementation and documentation.
    The team defined the timeframe for highway project environmental 
approvals subject to this second audit to be between May 2017 and April 
2018, when 898 projects were approved. The team drew both 
representative and judgmental samples totaling 105 projects from data 
in FDOT's online file system, Statewide Environmental Project Tracker 
(SWEPT). In the context of this report, descriptions of Type 1 
Categorical Exclusions (CE) and Type 2 CEs are consistent with FDOT's 
Project Development and Environment Manual. The FHWA judgmentally 
selected all Type 2 CEs (11 projects), all Environmental Assessments 
(EA) with Findings of No Significant Impacts (1 project), and all 
Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) with Records of Decision (no 
projects fell into this category). The FHWA determined the sample size 
applying a 90 percent confidence level, a 10 percent margin of error to 
the Type 1 CEs, and then separately to the reevaluations. For the Type 
1 CEs (64 projects), FHWA applied a judgmental distribution of the 
sample

[[Page 43865]]

based on the percentage of each type of Type 1 CE in the sample 
universe. For the re-evaluations (29 projects), FHWA applied a 
judgmental distribution of the sample based on the percentage of each 
class of action in the sample universe. The FHWA also ensured each 
district office was reasonably represented for both Type 1 CEs and re-
evaluations. The team reviewed projects in all of FDOT's seven 
districts.
    The team submitted a PAIR to FDOT that contained 35 questions 
covering all 6 NEPA Assignment Program elements. The FDOT responses to 
the PAIR were used to develop specific follow-up questions for the on-
site interviews with FDOT staff.
    The team conducted a total of 31 interviews. Interview participants 
included staff from three of FDOT's seven district offices that were 
not interviewed in the first audit, District 3 (Chipley), District 4 
(Ft. Lauderdale), and District 6 (Miami), and FDOT Central Office. The 
team interviewed FDOT environmental staff, middle management and 
executive management, regional representatives from the National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)--National Marine 
Fisheries Service (NMFS), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the State Historic Preservation 
Officer (SHPO) from the Florida Department of State, Division of 
Historic Resources.
    The team compared FDOT policies and procedures (including the 
published 2017 Project Development & Environment (PD&E) Manual) to the 
information obtained during interviews and project file reviews to 
determine if FDOT's performance of its MOU responsibilities are in 
accordance with FDOT policies and procedures and Federal requirements. 
Individual observations were documented during interviews and reviews 
and combined under the six NEPA Assignment Program elements. The audit 
results are described below by program element.

Overall Audit Opinion

    The team recognizes that FDOT's efforts have been focused on 
implementing the requirements of the MOU by: Processing and approving 
projects; refining policies, procedures, and guidance documents; 
refining the SWEPT tracking system for ``official project files''; 
training staff; implementing a QA/QC Plan; and conducting a self-
assessment for monitoring compliance with the assumed responsibilities. 
The team found evidence of FDOT's continuing efforts to train staff in 
clarifying the roles and responsibilities of FDOT staff, and in 
educating staff in an effort to assure compliance with all of the 
assigned responsibilities.
    During the second audit, the team identified numerous successful 
practices, two observations, and one non-compliance observation that 
FDOT will need to address through corrective actions. These results 
came from a review of FDOT procedures, project file documentation, and 
interviews with FDOT and resource agencies.
    The FDOT has carried out the responsibilities it has assumed 
consistent with the intent of the MOU and FDOT's application. By 
addressing the observations in this report, FDOT will continue to 
assure a successful program.

Successful Practices and Observations

    Successful practices are practices that the team believes are 
positive, and encourages FDOT to consider continuing or expanding those 
programs in the future. The team identified numerous successful 
practices in this report. Observations are items the team would like to 
draw FDOT's attention to, which may improve processes, procedures, and/
or outcomes. The team identified two observations in this report.
    A non-compliance observation is an instance where the team finds 
the State is not in compliance or is deficient with regard to a Federal 
regulation, statute, guidance, policy, State procedure, or the MOU. 
Non-compliance may also include instances where the State has failed to 
secure or maintain adequate personnel and/or financial resources to 
carry out the responsibilities they have assumed. The FHWA expects the 
State to develop and implement corrective actions to address all non-
compliance observations. The team identified one non-compliance 
observation during this second audit.
    The team acknowledges that sharing initial results during the site 
visit closeout and sharing the draft audit report with FDOT provides 
them the opportunity to begin implementing corrective actions to 
improve the program. The FHWA will also consider actions taken by FDOT 
to address these observations as part of the scope of Audit #3.
    The Audit Report addresses all six MOU program elements as separate 
discussions.

Program Management

Successful Practices
    The team learned that FDOT has maintained its good working 
relationship with the two new resource agency staff interviewed--USCG 
and NOAA-NMFS. They stated that FDOT coordinated any changes in their 
program with the Agency to ensure satisfaction with their regulatory 
requirements and were very pleased with the coordination by FDOT at the 
district and OEM level. The USCG stated that the Florida Efficient 
Transportation Decision Making System facilitates their early 
involvement and coordination. The FHWA applauds this practice.
    During interviews, FHWA learned of good internal communication 
between OEM and the districts regarding SWEPT assistance. This includes 
the assistance provided by OEM with the SWEPT hotline and one district 
uses a successful single SWEPT point of contact for internal 
consistency purposes. In addition, OEM continues to promote training on 
environmental and NEPA Assignment topics, and annual PD&E Manual 
updates on all topics, as needed.
    The FDOT/OEM uses a spreadsheet for internal purposes to track 
policy updates and procedures received from FHWA and the actions they 
took to address. This practice reflects transparency and awareness by 
FDOT on changes to keep current with FHWA requirements under the MOU.
    The team learned through interviews, in some instances, that the 
District Director and/or Environmental Manager review NEPA documents as 
an additional level of QA/QC on projects of interest. This practice 
shows local ownership and pride in districts wanting to do the best job 
they can do under NEPA Assignment, beyond what OEM may require.
    Observation #1: FDOT's identification and documentation of 
commitments may result in mitigation required by Federal regulation.
    There are several program elements that lead to this observation. 
The provisions on ``Commitment'' in the FDOT PD&E Manual (e.g., Section 
22.1.1) do not fully implement FHWA requirements to include in the 
environmental document all mitigation measures stated as commitments 
(23 CFR 771.105(a) and 771.109(b)). The identification of project 
impacts and the documentation of commitments must demonstrate that FDOT 
has reasonably considered the significance of a project's impacts 
within a NEPA approval appropriate to the project's class of action.
    The team also found some of the NEPA documents reviewed make a 
general commitment regarding intent to obtain a permit, but do not 
address the

[[Page 43866]]

project impacts associated with the permit or the commitments to avoid, 
mitigate, or minimize the impacts. Citing the need for a permit does 
not fully meet the requirement to document commitments to address 
project impacts at the time of a NEPA approval. In addition, some FDOT 
project files referenced standard specifications in lieu of identifying 
project specific commitments to address project impacts in the NEPA 
document, which does not align with FHWA policy. The FHWA Audit 
interviews and project file review confirm these findings (8 projects).
    Observation #2: Endangered Species Act (ESA) finding was 
unsupported on certain projects.
    The team identified 18 project files with a ``no effect'' ESA 
finding based solely on a description of the project's scope. The FHWA 
policy and guidance (February 2002 FHWA Management of the Endangered 
Species Act (ESA) Environmental Analysis and Consultation Process 
guidance memorandum (https://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/legislation/other_legislation/natural/laws_esaguide.aspx)) states that the ESA 
evaluation of impacts is dependent on the scope of the project, as well 
as ecological importance and distribution of the affected species, and 
intensity of potential impacts of the project.
    The team identified four project files with a ``no effect'' ESA 
finding which referenced a Programmatic Biological Opinion between 
USFWS and other entities, to which FDOT is not a signatory, including 
some that provide species-specific consultation ``keys'' to support a 
``no effect'' finding. The team learned from an interview with USFWS 
staff that FDOT should not specifically reference such ``keys'' as part 
of their informal and/or formal Section 7 ESA processes unless and 
until FDOT becomes a party to those programmatic agreements. Also, the 
team found that FDOT used ``keys'' as support for project impact 
decisions for species which do not have ``keys.'' Finally, FDOT's PD&E 
Manual does not include a procedure providing for use of the ``keys'' 
and does not address how the ``keys'' should be applied when making ESA 
findings.
    Since receiving the draft audit report, FDOT reported to FHWA that 
it has coordinated with USFWS in order to address this observation, 
developed training and updated its guidance addressing this 
observation.

Quality Assurance/Quality Control

Successful Practices
    From the PAIR and during the interviews, FDOT staff provided 
evidence of many new QA/QC tools using directions, forms, and 
procedures that will improve documentation and record keeping and may 
address many of the projects contained within the non-compliance 
observation of the 2017 Audit and FDOT's 2017 Self-Assessment. These 
new tools are likely to reduce the risk of future non-compliant 
projects through enhanced QA/QC. Examples of these QA/QC improved tools 
include a Consultant QC Plan, a Natural Resource Evaluation template, 
and a Section 106 Memorandum of Agreement for Adverse Impacts.
    The FDOT has continued to update its PD&E Manual to ensure that it 
encompasses all new applicable laws, regulations, and guidance. The 
FDOT has a dedicated person responsible for coordinating an annual PD&E 
Manual update. The FDOT has an intense vetting process for the PD&E 
Manual update. The draft changes are shared with subject matter experts 
and then undergo peer, District, and management reviews. Resource 
agencies may also review changes as needed. The update will include new 
direction to document preparers that specifies when additional project 
documentation is needed. Many of these additions stem from the 2017 
Audit findings and FDOTs 2017 Self-Assessment. The PD&E Manual update 
process is likely to eliminate many of the documentation issues found 
by FHWA in the 2017 and 2018 Audits.

Legal Sufficiency

    The team's review of FDOT's legal sufficiency program found that 
FDOT has structured the legal sufficiency process for the NEPA 
Assignment Program by having in-house counsel, as well as outside 
counsel with NEPA experience, available. We appreciate that FDOT has 
chosen to house their Special Counsel for Environmental Affairs and two 
staff attorneys under the direct supervision of the FDOT Deputy General 
Counsel.
    While no legal sufficiency determinations have been made by FDOT 
during the audit time frame, FDOT's Office of General Counsel (OGC) 
participates in monthly coordination meetings and topic-specific 
meetings with OEM and the districts. They also review other documents 
when requested for legal input. There is close collaboration throughout 
the process amongst and between OGC, OEM, and the district attorneys.

Training Program

    Through interviews with the OEM leadership the team learned that 
rather than preparing an annual training plan, they have a training 
program that is constantly being assessed, revised, and updated as an 
on-line program. The program includes training on a wide variety of 
subjects, and training is delivered both face-to-face and virtually. 
The FDOT staff said that training is a common topic of discussion of 
leadership as well as staff, including frequently asking about needed 
training.
Successful Practices
    The team learned through interviews FDOT closely tracks training 
rosters and registrations that evidence a broad number of training 
events to a high number of people. Over the past 12-14 months, FDOT 
trained over 2,000 people through 36 courses.
    The team learned that OEM is always looking at the training program 
to find ways to augment it. For example, FDOT is now working with the 
SHPO staff to develop topic-specific Webinars on how information for 
the SHPO is to be organized and projects documented. The FDOT also has 
worked with NOAA-NMFS on their concerns in developing training. These 
trainings, along with a new short Web-based training module on 
producing environmental documents, are waiting to be uploaded to the 
OEM website.
    The OEM leadership indicated in an interview that they have a 
number of staff that are new to FDOT, and, in general, have less than 5 
years of experience. These new staff members were mentored by seasoned 
staff to serve as a resource to help them understand FDOT's procedures 
and the key issues in NEPA. By monitoring the performance measures on 
compliance, OEM leadership indicate the mentoring is a successful 
practice.

Performance Measures

    The FDOT Self-Assessment Summary Report contained the results of 
FDOT's second report of its assessment of the NEPA Assignment Program 
and FDOT procedures compliance. This assessment, for the period between 
May 1, 2017, and April 30, 2018, entailed review of project files as 
well as results from a survey of Agency satisfaction. The report also 
included a discussion of FDOT's progress in meeting the performance 
measures. During the report period, there were no qualifying projects 
for Legal Sufficiency, NEPA Issue Resolution, and NEPA Approval Time 
Savings measures.

[[Page 43867]]

Successful Practices
    The FDOT has 14 performance metrics to monitor and assess 
accomplishment of the 4 performance measures in the MOU, Section 
10.2.1. The FDOT is actively monitoring these performance measures. 
Data for the performance metrics are generated and reported quarterly 
and annually in SWEPT. If FDOT identifies indicators that could affect 
their performance measures they can promptly take actions to address 
them.
    The OEM leadership stated in interviews that the FDOT timeliness 
measure is used both as a way to streamline their review process and to 
understand it better. For example, they told the team that FDOT has 
changed some of the time reporting measures for environmental review 
staff. Project review duration includes a need for every project to go 
through the electronic review comments (ERC) process first and then a 
formal review and approval period in SWEPT. When in SWEPT, there is a 
review process with a number of days assigned. The FDOT realized for 
certain projects, ones that have minor impacts, no ERC review was 
necessary which further streamlined the project review process. The OEM 
leadership also stated in an interview that the 30-day review period is 
being constantly monitored in order to ensure if a modification to 
procedure is needed, it can be made. It was also stated that during the 
first two rating periods no modification to the review period has been 
needed.

Documentation and Records Management

    The FDOT continues to use SWEPT as the NEPA file of record for 
federally funded projects. The FDOT has implemented several process 
improvements within SWEPT. Communication during the second audit cycle 
allowed staff to clarify many project level observations within the 
Audit process. The FDOT and FHWA have committed to continue 
communications to resolve issues identified within the audit process.
    Non-Compliance Observation #1: Some FDOT project files contain 
insufficient documentation to support the environmental analysis or 
decision.
    Both the MOU (subpart 10.2.1) and FDOT's PD&E Manual specify that 
documentation is needed to support compliance. The SWEPT has been 
identified as FDOT's project file of record, in which FDOT maintains 
approved reevaluations, CEs, EAs, and EISs. The team reviewed 105 
projects for the 2018 Audit #2 that constituted a statistically valid 
sample. As part of the initial project file review, the team observed 
that 54 of the 105 project files reviewed lacked documentation in SWEPT 
to support the environmental analysis or the basis for an FDOT 
decision. In some cases, there were multiple observations for one 
project.
    For example, one project file did not contain documentation of 
coordination with FHWA or USCG for the required (23 CFR 650.805 and 23 
CFR 650.807) navigability assessment in order to support a permit 
determination. Additional examples, where the team observed 
documentation deficiencies included commitments, planning consistency, 
and mitigation. The team also observed that some commitments to address 
project impacts through mitigation, avoidance, and minimization were 
not documented at the time of NEPA approval. When the environmental 
document lacks commitments for important project impacts, the project 
record does not reflect a complete consideration of the significance of 
a project's impacts. Another consequence is that some commitments are 
added after the NEPA decision, are not tracked, or get dropped, which 
is not in accordance with Federal regulations. (23 CFR 771.105(a), 23 
CFR 771.105(d), and 23 CFR 771.109(d)). Finally, project files were 
observed that did not include the Project Commitment Record for 
documenting commitments as required by the 2017 PD&E Manual.
    The team's comments on these projects were shared with FDOT for 
their consideration and the team received responses from FDOT. The FHWA 
and FDOT have productively worked together to successfully resolve 
insufficient documentation for 23 projects and uploaded existing 
documentation in SWEPT for 18 projects. The FDOT indicated that they 
have implemented or committed to implementing process improvements to 
address the deficiencies. The FDOT is expected to continue 
implementation of corrective actions that would address these issues.
    Update from 2017 Audit #1 Non-Compliance Observation #1: Some FDOT 
project files contain insufficient documentation to support the 
environmental analysis or decision.
    The FHWA reported a non-compliance observation related to some FDOT 
project files that lacked documentation to support the environmental 
analysis or decision as part of Audit #1. This non-compliance 
observation is based on a review that resulted in observations on 47 
projects, several of which had deficient documentation for more than 
one issue. The FDOT and FHWA have met over the past year and have 
productively worked together to resolve documentation issues from the 
previous audit. The FHWA shared comments on these projects with FDOT 
and they provided written responses. Based on these responses, FHWA and 
FDOT were able to successfully address many documentation issues 
through resolving a project observation (22 projects), FDOT uploading 
missing documentation in SWEPT (5 projects), or FDOT implementing or 
committed to implementing process improvements to address procedural 
deficiencies (39 projects). For example, FDOT updated their electronic 
Type 1 CE form in SWEPT to require certain supporting documentation be 
uploaded, which was confirmed through the Audit #2 FDOT staff 
interviews and project file reviews. The FDOT also included a direct 
link to the State Transportation Improvement Plan or Transportation 
Improvement Plan to ensure adequate documentation of planning 
consistency for all classes of action. The FDOT has made commendable 
strides to document planning consistency at NEPA approval. However, 
documentation of consistency with the metropolitan long-range 
transportation plans was missing for several projects and for a variety 
of classes of action. In addition, the 2018 FDOT Self-Assessment 
Summary states that FDOT initiated and completed a number of SWEPT 
system and programmatic enhancements to address the missing 
documentation noted during Audit #1. The FDOT is expected to continue 
implementation of corrective actions that would address these issues.

Finalizing This Report

    The FHWA provided a draft of the audit report to FDOT for a 14-day 
review and comment period. The team considered FDOT's comments in this 
draft audit report. The FHWA is publishing this notice in the Federal 
Register for a 30-day comment period in accordance with 23 U.S.C. 
327(g). No later than 60 days after the close of the comment period, 
FHWA will address all comments submitted to finalize this draft audit 
report pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 327(g)(B). Subsequently, FHWA will publish 
the final audit report in the Federal Register.
    The FHWA will consider the results of this audit in preparing the 
scope of the next annual audit. The next audit report will include a 
summary that describes the status of FDOT's

[[Page 43868]]

corrective and other actions taken in response to this audit's 
conclusions.

[FR Doc. 2019-18092 Filed 8-21-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-22-P

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