2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Overview
The heavy civil construction industry has been pushing for increased funding for years. These calls for federal funding, along with a recent C- grade in the United States’ latest infrastructure report card, made new funding a top priority for the Biden administration.
Infrastructure Funding Breakdown
for roads and bridge construction and repair
for electric grid and power infrastructure
for passenger and freight rail
for broadband investments
for water systems and infrastructure
for Western water storage
for public transit
for environmental remediation projects
for ports and waterways
for electric vehicles
for road safety
on community reconnection among neighborhoods divided by infrastructure
While most of these funds apply to traditional infrastructure, the investments into EVs, broadband, and community reconnection mark some of the progressive aspects of the bill.
How will IIJA federal funding impact your organization?
Federal funds can spur major changes for players across the industry, from Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and Local Public Agencies (LPAs), to contractors and their subs.
These funds bring new projects to the table, and with them, new reporting requirements.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has very specific requirements for project management, reporting, and record-keeping that often drive the need for organizations to adopt a more systematic and sophisticated oversight approach.
LPAs often feel the burden of heavy documentation requirements that lead to a lack of detailed, accurate, or complete records. If inconsistent documentation persists, organizations can struggle with:
Protecting against claims or other legal suits
Surviving audits to ensure future funding
In recognition of these challenges, FHWA encourages STAs and LPAs to embrace a more uniform process through the help of digital record keeping technology. This technology, known as e-Construction, helps LPAs standardize required recording procedures.
Where might e-Construction strengthen your organization’s part in proper stewardship of federal funding?
Federal Reporting & Documentation Requirements
FHWA lists three primary risks in project administration for federally funded projects.
|Careless expenditure of resources or unnecessary costs that result from inefficiency.||Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.||Excessive or improper use of something in a manner contrary to the legal rules for its use.|
To combat these risks, FHWA has outlined project supervision requirements that organizations must follow to receive federal aid.
So, how do these requirements typically affect LPAs, contractors, and DOTs?
LPAs often face an uphill battle in meeting federal requirements if they don’t have a digital project delivery system in place.
As those involved might know, LPAs are required to demonstrate contract compliance by maintaining thorough documentation on every project. This ongoing documentation will enable the LPA to complete the three major steps of the project closeout process:
|The federal oversight agency reviews your records and determines if there are any outstanding claims, unfinished work, or other contract administration issues.|
The federal oversight agency initiatives the final financial transaction to reimburse your agency for project related expenses. Proper record-keeping is essential to getting the right amount for your work.
|LPAs are required to maintain accurate and complete records throughout the life of the project and for a minimum of three years after the project is complete. These records are important in the event of an audit.|
Federal reporting requirements for contractors are not as extensive as they are for LPAs. Many fall on the LPA or oversight agency to report correctly. Contractors are still required to submit weekly payroll records that contain:
Employee’s full name and employee number
how often contractors on federally-funded projects have to submit weekly payroll records
DOTs are well aware of federal reporting requirements, as they’re beholden to them on many of their projects. Since DOTs often act as the oversight agency or work closely with the FHWA chapter serving as an oversight agency, they will need to have systems in place to monitor and track LPA projects and contractor work. Payment verification and documentation will often ultimately fall on the DOT to provide to meet federal standards. Ensuring DOTs have a digital reporting platform that plays nicely with what LPAs and contractors are using is key to streamlining these processes.
Whether DOT, LPA, or large general contractor, all entities are subject to the same federal requirements for reporting bid information. When the low bid is awarded, the agency must answer four questions, in addition to submitting bid tabulations and bid item details:
Is the bidder considered responsible?
How do the bids compare to the engineer’s estimate?
Is the bid considered responsive?
Was there adequate competition?
The Value of e-Construction
Did you know that 75% of roads are owned and maintained by LPAs? With such a high degree of responsibility for the majority of American roads, LPAs often use specific tools to overcome the project management challenges outlined by FHWA. Primarily, e-Construction.
e-Construction allows LPAs, their owners, and other project stakeholders to move to digital project delivery - eliminating hard copies and spreadsheets in favor of some kind of contract or asset management system.
In a 2017 study on the ROI value of e-Construction, FHWA defined it in the following ways:
Electronic capture of construction data
Electronic submission of construction documentation
Increased use of mobile devices
Increased automation of document review and approval
Use of electronic signatures
Secure document and workflow management accessible on any device
Projects are most effective when e-Construction tools are used in every stage. Is your organization using digital tools in these project areas?
Federal Highway Administration’s Maturity Framework
FHWA has developed a maturity framework so agencies can self-assess to see where they are in the process.
There are three levels: nascent, intermediate, and mature.
See how your organization stacks up in key areas:
Bidding and awarding on paper.
Pairing online and offline/paper bids.
Mandating electronic bidding through Bid Express or other automated software.
Documenting the project on paper.
Combination of paper and electronic systems to track and store daily reports.
Electronic construction management system to track daily reports, progress percentage, change orders, payments, and more.
Manual, paper-based methods like field notes and measuring wheels.
Mix of manual and electronic systems to track inspections and material test results.
Electronic systems to track all inspections and material test results.
Manual tracking of most warranty items.
Some automated tracking of warranty items through spreadsheets.
Release retainage amount to contractor automatically, ability to show all project warranty items and details on a map.
As a 40+ year solutions provider for the infrastructure construction industry, we understand the challenges agencies face. Our web-based solutions for construction administration & inspection, secure online bidding, and paperless contracting help organizations tackle the common issues outlined by FHWA - waste, fraud, and abuse.