The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) provides Federal grants and loans to assist in financing intercity passenger rail and freight rail projects. FRA, therefore, is responsible for administering and overseeing the grants and loans, and ensuring projects are delivered successfully, provide public benefits, and meet Federal requirements. FRA’s stewardship of taxpayers’ dollars requires oversight of grantees’ planning, acquisition, design, construction, and readiness for operations of high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects and freight rail projects.
The number and amount of grants and loans administered by the FRA have dramatically increased over the last several years. In 2014, FRA has a grant and loan portfolio comprised of over $20 billion worth of investments for more than 350 grants and loans distributed across multiple programs for projects located throughout the entire United States.
FRA’s oversight program uses a mix of staff and contractors to realize adequate personnel and professional expertise.
FRA seeks the following is its oversight of projects:
Oversight is characterized by a high level of proactive engagement, dialogue and problem solving with the Grantee and Federal team. Overseers should fully understand the projects, consider project content and approach, advise and recommend approaches, and evaluate risks. They should generally support FRA involvement in the Grantees’ projects.
Technical Assistance goes further than oversight -- into the realm of teaching, training, tutoring, and presentations on identified topics. Technical assistance needs are identified through oversight and may be customized to one Grantee or to a national audience depending on the issue. Either way, the work should further these FRA goals: Elevate the knowledge base in the industry; improve FRA’s oversight capabilities; and achieve higher-quality projects.
Through the oversight program, FRA would like to help develop a sense of community and partnership to encourage learning. For this purpose, regularly scheduled large national meetings will be held so that case studies, lessons learned, and best practices can be shared among the Grantees, oversight contractors, and the Federal team.