Streamlining the Section 106 Process – Alternatives

Recognizing the wide variety of federal undertakings subject to Section 106, as well as the need for efficient and sensible review, federal agencies have the option of crafting alternate methods for meeting their Section 106 obligations.  The regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) provide for the use of Alternate Procedures, Programmatic Agreements, Prototype Programmatic Agreements, Exempted Categories, Standard Treatments, or Program Comments.  The most common alternatives are described below, however, full information about these alternatives can be found on the ACHP website.

Nationwide Programmatic Agreement

The most common alternative is the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement (NPA).  Essentially, NPA’s are the result of a Federal Agency working with the ACHP and NCSHPO (on behalf of all SHPOs) to come up with a process tailored to the particular type of undertaking subject to Section 106.  These agreements can be very simple such as one covering a single grant program, or they can be very complex, such as one covering a large nationwide infrastructure project involving multiple agencies.  Because they require negotiation, NPAs can take anywhere from a few months to over a year to finalize.  But the results are aimed at ultimately saving both federal agencies and states time and money, while still preserving the historic places valued by the American people. Here are a few examples of recently adopted NPAs:

American Battlefield Protection Program

Amendment to the FCC NPA for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas

National Endowment for the Arts

For a more complete list, visit the ACHP website.

Prototype Programmatic Agreement

Prototype Programmatic Agreements (PPAs) are agreements meant to cover projects in multiple areas (such as multiple states) that are developed in consultation with the ACHP and NCSHPO but are ultimately signed only by the Agency and the respective jurisdiction (state).  They offer a consistent template but may allow for slight variations such as to accommodate different review procedures state-to-state.  While not signed by the ACHP, they are “designated” by an official letter.  Here are a few examples of recently adopted PPAs:

National Recreation and Conservation Service (NRCS)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

For a more complete list, visit the ACHP website.

Program Comment

The Program Comment permits the federal agency to comply with Section 106 by requesting the ACHP to comment on their proposed undertaking instead of conducting individual project reviews. This option works well for very repetitive but individually small projects where there may be much less of a threat to historic places. The ACHP issues the Program Comment after it is satisfied that adequate consultation has taken place.  Here is an example of a recently issued Program Comment:

Positive Train Control

For a complete list, visit the ACHP website.