The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Infrastructure Permitting Improvement Center (IPIC) advances reforms to expedite environmental review and permitting of major infrastructure projects, while improving environmental and community outcomes and increasing interagency coordination. Housed within the Office of the Secretary’s Office of Policy Development, Strategic Planning, and Performance, IPIC is the central resource for accelerating delivery of all DOT projects. IPIC seeks to remove barriers to efficient and effective project permitting and environmental review, support formulation of environmental solutions for multimodal, complex, or otherwise challenging projects, and promote and share best practices across DOT to improve consistency and effectiveness in project delivery. Among its ongoing activities are the following:
Providing Leadership in Infrastructure Initiatives
IPIC provided Department input to development of the President's Initiative for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America. The infrastructure proposal would streamline permitting, and it would shorten and simplify the approval process for infrastructure projects. IPIC also represents DOT in coordination with offices in the Executive Office of the President to consider the implications and paths forward for implementation of the President's Executive Order on Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure. IPIC leads Department implementation of "One Federal Decision," the Administration's approach to streamlining the environmental and permitting processes for infrastructure projects. Under this approach, each major infrastructure project shall have a lead Federal agency responsible for navigating the project through the Federal environmental review and authorization process, including the identification of a primary Federal point of contact at each Federal agency. In addition to this coordination, IPIC represents DOT in convening internal working groups of subject matter experts to ensure prompt implementation and use of statutory tools to facilitate coordinated review and decisionmaking among DOT Operating Administrations, which can provide a further groundwork for One Federal Decision among sister agencies going forward.
Implementation of Project Delivery Reforms
IPIC oversees implementation of project delivery reforms stipulated in recent transportation authorizations and other laws, including the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). Both authorizations included a number of changes to Federal law intended to streamline the environmental review and permitting processes for many transportation projects across the Federal Government. These reforms include:
- synchronizing environmental reviews and minimizing duplication;
- establishing programs to measure progress in accelerating project delivery;
- integrating mapping and other data tools with fiscal management systems to provide improved data and greater transparency; and
- facilitating efforts to align historic preservation regulations.
Collaboration with the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council
In collaboration with the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council), established under FAST Act Title XLI, IPIC coordinates DOT efforts with permitting reform efforts across other Federal agencies. The Permitting Council is responsible for leading ongoing government-wide efforts to modernize the Federal environmental review and permitting process for major infrastructure projects and work with Federal agency partners to implement and oversee adherence to the statutory requirements set forth in the FAST Act. On behalf of the Permitting Council, IPIC manages the Permitting Dashboard and other information technology tools designed to track project schedules and metrics, improve the transparency and accountability of the permitting process, and manage permitting delays. Agencies covered under Title 41 of the FAST Act are required to report timelines for all new infrastructure projects that meet certain criteria of size and complexity, using a standardized set of milestones. Information is reported by the project's lead Federal agency and data is continually updated as the project advances through the review and permitting processes.
Support DOT Operating Administrations and the Build America Bureau
IPIC provides direction and support to DOT's Operating Administrations (OA) and the Build America Bureau in helping DOT projects successfully navigate environmental and permitting issues with the help of environmental specialists, data analysts, and conflict-resolution experts. IPIC works seamlessly with OA environmental policy offices and staff who lead DOT's environmental policy activities. IPIC advises on legislation, rulemaking, and guidance that impacts DOT project delivery. The Build America Bureau drives transportation infrastructure development projects in the U.S. by offering credit opportunities and grants more quickly and transparently, while providing technical assistance and encouraging innovative best practices in project planning, permitting, financing, delivery, and monitoring.
Coordination with the Council on Environmental Quality
IPIC acts as DOT's liaison to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) on issues related to permitting and project delivery and as the co-chair for the interagency Transportation Rapid Response Team (TRRT), a working group comprised of Federal permitting and land management agencies, to address project delivery issues and interagency coordination for DOT project delivery rulemaking.
IPIC’s activities provide new opportunities for a wide range of constituents to interface with the environmental review and permitting of infrastructure projects. State and local project sponsors or elected officials may visit the Dashboard or contact IPIC staff in regards to specific projects. Citizens are able to use the Dashboard to check on the progress of projects in their communities. Other Federal agencies may use the Dashboard to facilitate coordination of review actions across agencies and work with IPIC staff to ensure efficient environmental review.