Hurricane Sandy: Frequently Asked Questions
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Hurricane Sandy: Frequently Asked Questions Main Page

Question Response
New item Are budget revisions permissible for Category 1, 2, or 3 Emergency Relief grants?

Given the unique eligibility criteria for the Category 1, 2, or 3 grants, FTA will only permit budget revisions that meet the below criteria with prior FTA approval.

  • Budget revisions will only be permitted to shift funds from an existing Category 2 Activity Line Item (ALI) when a cost-savings is realized to another existing Category 2 ALI, should there be a cost-overrun or need for additional funds.
  • Grantees will be required to submit documentation demonstrating the cost savings and cost over-run involved in the budget revision.

If the grantee experiences a cost-savings or determines it no longer needs the funds obligated in other ALIs in its Category 1, 2, and 3 grant, then the excess funds will be deobligated. Funds that are deobligated from the grant may be available for future obligation by the grantee, should the grantee have additional eligible recovery costs that cannot be funded by its pro-rated allocation or its insurance proceeds.

Does Category 1 include costs that have been accrued but not yet disbursed (e.g. for completed force account work and task orders)? Yes, FTA considers accrued costs to have been incurred, and hence are eligible under Category 1. It is our intent that both incurred costs, and incurred and disbursed costs are included in Category 1.
For Category 2, are costs eligible for an RFP issued before January 29, 2013, but for which the contract has not yet been awarded? If the RFP has been issued, but the contract has not yet been awarded, the project meets the test for eligibility under Category 2.
Under Category 2, if a contract was executed prior to January 29, can a grantee receive reimbursement for future task orders that it might issue after this date? FTA will make determinations on a case-specific basis, which may require recipients to submit contract documents to FTA for review. Generally, costs that are incurred after January 29th, such as by amending a contract, exercising options on a contract for additional work, or ordering previously un-budgeted tasks on an indefinite quantity contract, would not qualify for category 2, and would need to comply with all federal requirements, or would need to seek a waiver of specific requirements through the FTA docket as described in the March 29, 2013 Notice of Allocation. The docket is available on www.regulations.gov, and the docket number for calendar year 2013 is FTA–2013–0001. However, issuing future task orders on an existing contract for which funds were already committed (such as for storm clean-up/debris removal work) may be eligible under Category 2.
Does the force account have to be approved by the FTA region? FTA prior approval is not needed for force account plans (including justifications for use of force account) for purposes of emergency response and recovery work. Grantees are encouraged to update force account plans as needed for response and recovery projects on which force account labor will be used. For force account work to qualify for an allocation under Category 3, there needs to be evidence that the grantee had budgeted the expense prior to January 29, 2013.

For more information about Force Account Plans, please see FTA Circular 5010.1D, "Grant Management Requirements, October 1, 2008, Chapter IV (PDF)."
What if a project or expense is not cited in a budget but is paid for out of a contingency in the budget? If the expenses have already been paid out of a contingency in the budget, then they are Category 1 expenses and do not require documentation of budgeting, which is for future expenditures. For future expenditures to be paid from a contingency, there should be some documentation showing either budgeting or approval of the use of the contingency line item (Board meeting minutes, for example). This documentation should be included in the initial proposal.
Please explain the scope of eligible activities for “force account work,” under Category 3. What type of documentation is required to demonstrate that an expense was budgeted or planned for expenditure? Force account is the use of a grantee’s own labor force to carry out a capital project. Force account work may consist of design, construction, refurbishment, inspection, and construction management activities, if eligible for reimbursement under the grant. Incremental labor costs from flagging protection, service diversions, or other activities directly related to the capital grant may also be defined as force account work.

Documentation can include a force account plan for the work accomplished or planned, or any other documentation that reflects that in-house labor forces were "budgeted" as of January 29th to accomplish the work.
In what context does Force Account apply? Is that the normal work force or the work force that was used during the timeframe of the disaster or a combination of both? Additionally, in what respect does budgeted mean, again, in the context of the Force Account, normal or emergency and / or both? It is reasonable to expect that transit agencies used (and continue to use) their own staff for response and recovery work. Agencies may have ongoing recovery work for which they continue to use their own forces, as opposed to contractors. Any hurricane response/recovery work done by your staff prior to January 29 would fall into Category 1, since the grantee is simply seeking reimbursement. However, if you have plans to continue to use your staff for recovery work that has not yet occurred, then those expenses are eligible under Category 3, as long as you can show documentation that the work is budgeted and ongoing. By budgeted, we mean an amendment to your budget that shows a line item for hurricane response, or something that shows you’ve moved staff off of regular tasks to hurricane response (Board meeting minutes, etc.). If you cannot show us that you have budgeted for that work prior to the 29th, then that work will still be eligible for reimbursement using the agency’s prorated allocation.
How should grant applications be structured if an agency plans or budgets an expenditure, but has not yet issued an RFP? What if an agency has budgeted force account work associated with a project that has not yet been advertised? Work that has been budgeted (but for which an RFP has not been advertised) is eligible for funding under the prorated allocation, not under Categories 1-3. The RFP, when issued, will need to comply with all federal requirements unless FTA issues a waiver to the applicant pursuant to the waiver process detailed in the Notice of Availability of Emergency Relief Funding. Force account work associated with that contract should not be requested under Category 3, unless it has independent utility and is not contingent upon a future contract action.
Does Category 3 extend to work a grantee's contractor performed? No. Category 3 is for work performed by a grantee’s in-house labor force. Work by a grantee's contractor under an existing contract would be Category 2, unless it has been paid to the contractor, in which case it would be Category 1.