23 CFR 420.115 - What are the FHWA approval and authorization requirements?
(a) The State DOT and its subrecipients must obtain approval and authorization to proceed prior to beginning work on activities to be undertaken with FHWA planning and research funds. Such approvals and authorizations should be based on final work programs or other documents that describe the work to be performed. The State DOT and its subrecipients also must obtain prior approval for budget and programmatic changes as specified in 49 CFR 18.30 or 49 CFR 19.25 and for those items of allowable costs which require approval in accordance with the cost principles specified in 49 CFR 18.22(b) applicable to the entity expending the funds.
(b) Authorization to proceed with the FHWA funded work in whole or in part is a contractual obligation of the Federal government pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 106 and requires that appropriate funds be available for the full Federal share of the cost of work authorized. Those State DOTs that do not have sufficient FHWA planning and research funds or obligation authority available to obligate the full Federal share of a work program or project may utilize the advance construction provisions of 23 U.S.C. 115(a) in accordance with the requirements of 23 CFR part 630, subpart G. The State DOTs that do not meet the advance construction provisions, or do not wish to utilize them, may request authorization to proceed with that portion of the work for which FHWA planning and research funds are available. In the latter case, authorization to proceed may be given for either selected work activities or for a portion of the program period, but such authorization does not constitute a commitment by the FHWA to fund the remaining portion of the work if additional funds do become available.
(c) A project agreement must be executed by the State DOT and the FHWA Division Office for each statewide transportation planning, metropolitan planning area, or RD&T work program, individual activity or study, or any combination administered as a single Federal-aid project. The project agreement may be executed concurrent with or after authorization has been given by the FHWA Division Administrator to proceed with the work in whole or in part. In the event that the project agreement is executed for only part of the work, the project agreement must be amended when authorization is given to proceed with additional work.