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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) sets specific requirements and provides guidance on how transit agencies spend Federal funds. FTA grants and accounting is handled differently at every agency; this article will not review best practices for accounting. It is intended to provide a review of grant programs and resources for procurement best practices.
Any agency staff member involved in, or expecting to be involved in procurement should attend the National Transit Institute (NTI) Procurement Series of trainings. The series is divided into a progression of four multi-day courses. NTI offers the courses on an occasional basis in different regions around the country. The initial course is the most crucial for newcomers to Federal Transit procurement, covering topics such as procurement methods, how procurement processes are organized in an agency, and how to appropriately manage a third-party procurement.
NTI now offers a course on Procurement for Small and Medium Transit Systems. The course is limited to agency representatives who receive 5307 funds and operate less than 50 vehicles or agencies receiving 5310 or 5311 funds.
The Best Practices Procurement Manual (BPPM) is provided by FTA and covers the spectrum of procurement requirements set out in FTA Circular 4220.1. As of this writing, the FTA circular version is 4220.1F, last revised in 2008. The circular provides guidance on contracting with third parties (in other words, procurement) using FTA grant funds. Unfortunately, the circular has not been updated for the most recent version of Federal transportation legislation (MAP-21). The BPPM was last updated in 2005.