IMPLEMENTATION ACTION PLAN
As noted in the section "Process Refinements," the basic attribution process is valid; however, improvements are desirable and technological advancements can contribute to the FHWA objective of providing better data in an earlier timeframe. Thus, FHWA developed an implementation plan for FY2001-2003 to address improvements in three areas the motor fuel attribution process; model revisions; and oversight, training, and outreach. Process refinements noted in the previous section are part of the overall implementation plan.
Motor Fuel Attribution Process Improvement
Several actions are being implemented to improve the attribution process. To ensure that States understand the process, additional documentation has been and is being developed. This additional documentation includes, for example, the pamphlet, "Your States Share Attributing Highway Trust Funds to the States" (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/attrib.htm) and this booklet. Also, additional instructions on how to complete forms FHWA-551M and FHWA-556 will be provided in a revision of Chapter 2 of "A Guide to Reporting Highway Statistics".
System improvements are also being planned and implemented. A new tool is being developed for States to use in submitting their data. The first stage of this information system tool was released in December 2001. States will begin using this tool, which is on-line at http://apps.fhwa.dot.gov/motorfuel, in January 2002.
Because of differences in State tax laws and regulations, State data reporting can be inconsistent. An AASHTO survey (February 2000) identified several areas in which State reporting may be at risk for data errors. The use of IFTA for reporting diesel fuel usage among the States is one avenue that is being evaluated. By 2003, FHWA will examine methods for reporting alternative fuels to improve the information on usage of non-traditional fuels.
Finally, FHWA has contracted with an independent agency to conduct a thorough review of the attribution methodology. This assessment will include a risk analysis and examine the process from a multi-disciplinary viewpoint, considering, for example, areas of accounting, information management, and statistical models.
Currently, as noted in the section on "Attribution and Apportionment," FHWA uses several sophisticated models to achieve uniformity needed for equitable funds distribution. Between now and 2003, FHWA will update the existing models as necessary and will investigate alternative approaches to the use of the current models. In Spring 2002, FHWA is sponsoring a workshop for States and other partners on alternative methods for developing models and using model data. Additional models may be developed if necessary. The goal is to provide States with the tools needed to provide FHWA with more accurate information.
In early 2001, a working group of FHWA Field and Headquarters staff was convened to develop a methodology for verification of State-reported data. Responsibility at the FHWA Division level, use of the continuous process improvement technique and risk assessment as tools, and the requirement for a "baseline" review during FY 2002 were the principal recommendations of this working group. Beginning in FY 2001 and continuing through FY 2003, FHWA plans to provide additional training in all aspects of collecting and preparing motor fuel data reports. Outreach sessions were held in FY 2000 and FY 2001 concerning reassessment and proposed process refinements; further workshops are planned to provide additional outreach.
As noted above, FHWA has taken a phased approach to implementing improvements. Short-term efforts have been put into effect to ensure that the information used for FY 2002 and FY 2003 is reliable. In addition, long-term planning to refine the process, reduce State burden, and use current information technology has been initiated.
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