How to Participate in the Transportation Pooled Fund Program

General Questions

  1. What is the purpose of a transportation pooled fund study?
  2. A TPF pooled fund study is intended to address a new area of research, planning, and technology innovation or to provide information that will compliment or advance previous efforts in these areas.

  3. What are the qualifications to establish a transportation pooled fund study?
  4. To qualify as a pooled fund study, more than one state transportation agency and/or federal agency, in addition to an agency such as a municipality, metropolitan planning organization, college/university or a private company must find the subject important enough to pledge funds or other resources to conduct the research, planning, and/or technology innovation activity. The proposed work must also be documented in the State’s work program.

    If the subject has been previously studied, the proposed project must provide new information that will complement or advance previous investigations of the subject matter.

  5. Is there a funding match requirement within the TPF Program?
  6. Within the TPF Program, the typical source of funding is State Planning and Research (SP&R) funds. The normal match for State Planning and Research (SP&R) funds is at least 20 percent non-Federal with maximum participation being 80 percent Federal funding.

  7. Can the match requirement be waived?
  8. Yes; Section 505(b)(2) of 23 USC allows the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to waiver the funds match requirement for a project administered under the TPF mechanism. The authority to waive the funds match requirement has been delegated to the FHWA Associate Administrator for Research, Development and Technology, for research-related projects; and the Associate Administrator for Planning and Environment, for planning-related projects. Please Note: The receipt of the SP&R waiver is not automatically granted; a request letter for the waiver must be submitted to the TPF Program Manager via your local FHWA Division office.

  9. What is the process for establishing a pooled project?
  10. A pooled fund project proposal must be developed that includes the following:

    1. The identification of the lead agency for the proposed project; A State DOT or FHWA.
    2. The Background, Purpose and Objective, and Scope of the project
    3. The estimated cost of the project
    4. The estimated duration of the project
    5. The proposal should indicate who would lead the pooled fund project (a State DOT or the FHWA), (b) Consider your interest in obtaining approval for the use of 100% SP&R funding on the proposed pooled fund project after your solicitation has been entered into the Pooled Fund Website. If interested, follow step (1) “f”
      1. Submit the request to establish a pooled fund project and (if interested) approval for the use of 100% SP&R funding as follows:
      2. State-led Projects: Submit the pooled fund project proposal to your local FHWA Division office. If you are interested in the waiver to use 100% Federal-aid SP&R funds, submit the “Waiver Request Letter” to the local FHWA Division office after the Solicitation has been entered into the Pooled Fund website. Your local FHWA Division office will process the request. Upon the Division’s endorsement, the request will be sent to the TPF Program Manager for further consideration and approval.

        FHWA-led Projects: Submit the project proposal and (if interested) the “Waiver Request Letter” for the use of 100% SP&R funding via e-mail to the TPF Program Manager.

  11. I’ve submitted the request for the proposal, etc., to my local FHWA Division office. Can I post the solicitation while the request is being reviewed?
  12. Yes; the lead agency may post their pooled fund solicitation on the TPF website while the request to approve the project and use of 100% SP&R funding is being considered. The “Waiver Request Letter” can be submitted once the solicitation has been posted. The solicitation number should be included in the “Waiver Request Letter”.

  13. Generally speaking, how long does it take to obtain approval of a proposed pooled fund project and (if requested) the use of 100% SP&R funding?
  14. The process to approve the proposed project and (if requested) the use of 100% SP&R funding typically takes 3-4 weeks. Please Note: A solicitation number will be assigned by the website when the solicitation is entered. Once a sufficient level of commitments has been received to cover the estimated cost of the proposed project, a Pooled Fund Project number will be assigned.

  15. How do I gain access to the authorized user section of the TPF website?
  16. State DOT and their Financial Representatives:

    The approval of additional authorized users from a State DOT is at the discretion of their American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Research Advisory Committee (RAC) representative. The current list of AASHTO RAC members can be found at the following link: http://research.transportation.org/Pages/RACRoster.aspx. Please contact the appropriate AASHTO RAC member for your State, for further consideration in gaining access to the authorized user section of the TPF website.

    Contributing partners can request a User ID and Password for staff members from the Pooled Fund Program Manager.

    FHWA:

    FHWA staff leading or participating in a pooled fund project are granted access to the authorized user section of the TPF website. Additionally, Financial Managers in FHWA Program and Division offices are granted access to the authorized user section of the TPF website, with the role of “Funding Contact.” This role will enable them to review their State DOT’s funding pledges. FHWA staff interested in obtaining access to the authorized user section of the TPF website, but not participating in a pooled fund project or serving as the Funding Contact, should contact the TPF Program Manager for assistance.

    Roles and Responsibilities

  17. What are the responsibilities of a lead agency?
  18. The lead agency manages the research of the pooled fund study and performs its related administrative functions. The contracting laws and regulations of the lead agency will drive and govern the actual selection process. The lead agency must ensure that the project partners receive all reports and deliverables in a timely manner. All reports must be made available on the pooled fund website. Project information that is maintained on the pooled fund website should be regularly reviewed and updated, as necessary. Additionally, it is imperative that the lead agency maintain reliable financial records regarding the project expenditures in the event of an audit by the FHWA.

    A “Pooled Fund Checklist – Steps in the Process” is posted on the website or is available from the Pooled Fund Program Manager.

  19. What is the role of the project’s Technical Advisory Committee?
  20. The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is comprised of a representative from each project partner, is a panel of experts that oversee the conduct of the pooled fund project and will serve for the duration of the project. The role of the committee can include drafting and approving the project work statement, identifying the best qualified researchers to conduct the work on the project, the review of project progress reports and annual reports, the acceptance of project deliverables and final projects, and recommending implementation activities. Please Note: The ultimate activities of the TAC are subject to the lead agency’s contracting rules and regulations.

  21. What is the role of the FHWA Technical Liaison?
  22. The FHWA Technical Liaison is provided as a resource to the project’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), but is not an actual member of the TAC. The use of the FHWA Technical Liaison is optional. FHWA Technical Liaisons give initial feedback on the proposed project and, upon request, may provide technical guidance from the context of the national research and technology program. Liaisons may participate in the activities of the Technical Advisory Committee by e-mail, teleconference, webinars, or in person (as their office’s travel funds permit). Please Note: It is not appropriate for the FHWA Technical Liaison to be involved in the business decisions of a State DOT or conduct administrative functions on behalf of the TAC. Business decisions or administrative functions include serving on a review panel with the purpose of selecting the contractor for a project that will be managed by a State DOT.

    Project Solicitation

  23. I have a great idea for a pooled fund project. How can I post a solicitation on the TPF website?
  24. TPF studies must be led by either a State DOT or the FHWA. Within these agencies, specific individuals are authorized to post a solicitation on the TPF website, www.pooledfund.org. Typically, the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Research Advisory Committee (RAC) member in a State DOT is authorized to post a solicitation on behalf of their agency; while FHWA Program Offices or the TPF Program Manager are authorized to post project solicitations on behalf of the FHWA.

    The list of AASHTO RAC members can be found at the following link: http://research.transportation.org/Pages/RACRoster.aspx, and can be used to determine the RAC member(s) for your State DOT. Please contact the appropriate AASHTO RAC member to discuss your interest in posting a pooled fund solicitation. If after reviewing the list you’re unable to identify the appropriate RAC member, please contact the TPF Program Manager for further assistance.

  25. How long may a solicitation remain posted on the TPF website?
  26. A solicitation may remain posted on the TPF website for up to 1 year. Lead agencies are asked to review their solicitations quarterly. If the solicitation does not garner an adequate amount of funding to be initiated, the sponsoring agency may withdraw and repost the solicitation at a later date.

  27. It’s been less than a year since my solicitation was initially posted, but according to the TPF website, the solicitation is scheduled to expire soon. What does that mean and is it possible to request an extension?
  28. Yes; the solicitation can be extended for an additional amount of time if it has not yet advanced to an active project. The extensions should be discussed with the Pooled Fund Program Manager. Any projects that have not to an active project within a reasonable amount of time after the extension will be withdrawn.

    Funding Contributions

  29. May foreign governments or private organizations contribute funds to pooled fund projects?
  30. In most cases, the participation of a foreign government in a pooled fund project is welcomed. However, the level of contributions to pooled fund projects by such partners and/or the actual receipt of funds may be limited by the rules and regulations of the lead agency (State DOT or FHWA).

    For States that allow private organization participation, the contribution should not be at a level that would affect or even appear to affect the outcome of the research, project. Or intended product of the project. Similarly, private organization contributions to an FHWA-led project will be considered on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the FHWA Office of Chief Counsel and/or Office of International Programs.

  31. How can I contribute non-federal funds to a State-led or FHWA-led pooled fund project?
  32. State-led Projects

    State DOT’s or private organizations that are interested in contributing non-federal funds to a State-led pooled fund project must contact the lead agency to discuss the options that are available for making such a contribution. Note: The FHWA is not involved with the transfer of non-federal funds to a State DOT. Therefore, the funds are to be submitted directly to the lead agency.

    FHWA-led Projects

    To contribute non-Federal funds to an FHWA-led project, the contributing organization may do so as follows:

    PAY.gov is a system provided by the U.S. Department of Treasury, to make secure electronic payments to Federal Government Agencies. Note: The use of PAY.gov is not available for contributing funds to State-led pooled fund projects.

    To contribute non-Federal funds to an FHWA-led project, the contributing organization may do so as follows:

    Procedures for Sending Non-Federal Funds to a Pooled Fund Project

    Using Pay.gov:

    Step 1 sign

    Go to https://Pay.gov website and click on the Red Button: Make a Payment,

    https://Pay.gov main web page.

    Step 2 sign

    In Box 2, Type in: FHWA Research

    Make a Payment

    Making payments through Pay.gov is free and secure. You'll need to fill out the correct online form. A form is a web page where you type in information about yourself and the payment.

    Find a Form

    To find the correct online form, you can:

    1. Select from the list of commonly used forms:
      DEPARTMENT OF VETERAN AFFAIRS SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (SBA) DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE UNITED STATES COURTS UNITED STATES COAST GUARD
    2. Search by keyword such as the type of payment, agency name, form name or number:
    3. Click here to view a listing of all forms
    4. Click here to view a listing of all agencies

    Have an Access Code?

    If you received a notice that you have an electronic bill, you may Log in to your Pay.gov user account to see your bill or click the enter access code button to proceed without logging into Pay.gov.

    Enter Access Code

    Step 3 sign

    At the “Federal Highway Research Project Contribution Payment Form”, click on the Red Button: Continue to the Form.

    Pay.gov web page displaying the search results for F.H.W.A. Research

    Step 4 sign

    Select Payment and “Continue to Form”

    Federal Highway Research Project Contribution Payment Form web page

    Step 5 sign

    At the drop down menu, select FHWA Pooled Fund. Complete the “Federal Highway Research Project Contribution Payment Form” and click PDF Preview or Continue

    Federal Highway Research Project Contribution Payment Form web page

    Explanation of Fields for the “Federal Highway Research Project Contribution Payment Form”
    Field Name Field Description
    Contact Name: Name of the Organization or State
    Contact Phone Number: Please include the name and telephone number of the person that should be notified if questions arise regarding the contribution.
    Project #: Official project number (i.e., TPF-5(XXX),
    Recipient Select ”FHWA Pooled Funds” from Drop Down Menu
    Official Project Name: Official title and Pooled Fund Project #.
    Contribution Amount: Amount of funds being sent via PAY.gov
    FY of Funds or N/A: This field is primarily used by a Federal agency. If contribution is being made by a State or private or other organization, please type in the box “Not Applicable”
    Program Code or N/A: This field is primarily used by a Federal agency. If contribution is being made by a State or private or other organization, please type in the box “Not Applicable”
    Transfer to: Routing code of FHWA office where funds will be applied. Note: This information can be obtained via the pooled fund project acceptance memo
  33. What’s the process for a State DOT to contribute Federal (apportioned) funds to a pooled fund project?
  34. The financial contribution to a pooled fund project that is led by a State DOT is a two-step process. The process includes: 1) making a funding commitment (pledge) on the TPF website, and 2) submitting a funding transfer form (FHWA-1575 for State-to-State transfers or FHWA -1576 for State-to-FHWA transfers) via your local FHWA office. Details regarding the two-step process are as follows:

    1. Funding Commitment
    2. The posting of a funding commitment (pledge) on the TPF website is an acknowledgement by a potential partner that it will formally transfer funding to the lead agency of the pooled fund project once the solicitation has been cleared. Funding commitments are posted by a Funding Contact identified by the State DOT. The Funding Contact will log onto the password protected area of the TPF website and enter the funding commitment information. **If you are uncertain as to the name of the Funding Contact for your State DOT, please contact the TPF Program Manager at FHWAPooledFund@fhwa.dot.gov.

      Detailed instructions that outline the steps for posting a funding commitment online can be found in Chapter of 11 of the TPF Program Procedures Manual.

    3. Funding Transfer:
    4. Participating State DOT’s that will be transferring Federal (apportioned) funding to a pooled fund project must prepare and submit a transfer request (FHWA-Form 1575 for State-to-State transfers or FHWA-1576 for State-to-FHWA transfers), and attach a copy of the lead agency’s Acceptance Memo, to their respective FHWA Division Office for concurrence. A copy of the acceptance memo is available in the project description on the TPF website. If the acceptance memo is not posted, please contact the lead agency for assistance. The FHWA Division Office will send the for 1575/1576 to the FHWA CFOs Office for transfer in the FMIS system

  35. After I submit the funding transfer form (FHWA-1575 or FHWA 1576), how can I verify the receipt of my contribution to a pooled fund project?
  36. Funding Transfers

    A spreadsheet showing the status of all funding transfers received by the FHWA in Washington, D.C., is provided their Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) on regular basis and posted in the Tools section of the TPF website, located on the right-hand side of your screen. If the transfer is not evident in the report, it has not been received by the OCFO, and you should follow up with the contributing organization.

    PAY.gov Receipts

    Please contact the Financial Manager in the applicable FHWA Program office for the status of PAY.gov payments to an FHWA-led project.

  37. Is there a minimum contribution required for pooled fund projects?
  38. No; there is no general minimum contribution required for pooled fund projects. However, it is suggested that the lead agency specify a minimum contribution in their solicitation based on the estimated cost of the project and the anticipated number of potential partners.

    In deciding to propose a minimum contribution for new studies, lead agencies should not only keep in mind the funding needs of the project, but also the potential partners’ ability to pay (e.g., States with smaller research budgets). Potential partners who are unable to meet the minimum funding requirements of the proposed project, but are interested in participating may contact the lead agency contact to discuss the possibility of contributing a smaller amount that’s in line with their budget.

  39. Must all contributions to pooled fund projects be monetary?
  40. No. Although typical partner contributions are monetary, some studies may require other resources (e.g., equipment, lab facilities, test roadway, etc.) and expertise that would be beneficial to the project. Potential partners who are interested in offering an alternative contribution should contact the lead agency to discuss options that might fit the needs of the project.

    Project Initiation

  41. We are ready to advance our solicitation. What are the next steps?
  42. Once the required level of funding commitments has been reached, the lead agency must log onto the TPF website and change the option “Sufficient Commitments Received” to YES. This action will trigger a notice that is sent to the TPF Program Manager indicating that you are ready to advance the solicitation to an active pooled fund project.

    Within three business days, you will be contacted by the TPF Program Manager to establish the project and assign a project number. Once the project number is assigned, the lead agency must prepare an acceptance memo, indicating their acceptance of the role of Lead Entity and agreeing to receive partner contributions. The acceptance memo must be posted on the TPF website as part of the project information. Sample acceptance memo’s can be found on pages 60-61 of the TPF Program Procedures Manual (Final Draft: April 2010).

    Project Invoicing

  43. My State is leading a pooled fund project, how do I request reimbursement of funding?
  44. RASPS or Current Billing

    If the funds within the project have been transferred to the lead agency under the new pooled fund transfer process, invoices for State-led projects can be paid through RASPS or current billing through the Lead State and the local FHWA Division Office of the Lead State.

    Project Quarterly Reporting

  45. I am leading a pooled fund project. How can I keep my partners informed on the project’s progress?
  46. It is the responsibility of the lead agency to keep their partners informed of the progress of the project. The lead agency, on a quarter calendar basis, will provide an update of the project’s progress by posting a quarterly report on the TPF website. These periodic reports are integral to successful communication with project partners about the progress within the project and to communicate with the transportation community at large about research in progress. Report information may be password protected if the project is of a confidential nature.

  47. What is the quarterly reporting schedule for pooled fund projects?
  48. The quarterly reporting schedule is as follows (period of performance is in parenthesis):

    • Due: April 30 (January – March)
    • Due: July 31 (April – June)
    • Due: October 31 (July – September)
    • Due: January 31 (October – December)
  49. What is the appropriate format for submitting a quarterly report?
  50. The quarterly reporting form has been standardized for use by the lead agency of pooled fund projects. The new form in Word or PDF can be found by clicking on “Forms” which is located in the top toolbar on the Pooled Fund Website.

    Project Close Out

  51. We are the lead agency for a pooled fund project that is now complete. What steps should I follow to officially close the project?
    1. Confirm that all project-related bills have been paid and no additional invoices will be submitted.
    2. Post the project’s final report on the TPF website
    3. Log onto the TPF website and update the status of the project to “Objectives Fulfilled.”
    4. Compile the financial records related to the project that outlines its Transfers from Partners, Obligations, Expenditures, and any remaining funds. This information should be entered into the “Closeout Funding Spreadsheet” and submitted to the Pooled fund Program Manager.
    5. An official closeout memo and the “Closeout Funding Spreadsheet will be issued by the Director; Office of Corporate Research, Technology and Innovation Management. Upon receipt of the memo, you may consider the project officially closed. The lead agency is to complete a transfer form FHWA-1575 for each project partner, and use this information to return (proportionally) any funds that are remaining.
    6. Submit each form FHWA-1575 to your local FHWA Division office for processing. You may check the status of each transfer via the Funding Transfer Spreadsheet that’s located in the Tools section of the TPF website, on the right hand side of your screen. This spreadsheet is updated on a bi-weekly basis.
 
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