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State Safety Oversight Office

The Mayor has granted the SSOO (State Safety Oversight Office) the authority to develop, manage, and carry out Federal Transportation Administration’s (FTA’s) safety and security program requirements. The SSOO “shall require, review, approve, and monitor the safety program for the DC Streetcar.” (See DC Code: § 5-401.01 State safety oversight agency for DC Streetcar)
Pursuant to an official Order by the Mayor (Order 2012-192), the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department (DCFEMS) is designated as the State Safety Oversight Agency (SSOA), responsible for DDOT-operated rail transit safety and security oversight.  To separate DCFEMS’ oversight function from its emergency response duties, the State Safety Oversight Office (SSOO), was created within DCFEMS. The SSOO has the sole responsibility of administering the oversight program.
What is MAP-21?
On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed into law P.L. 112-141, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). MAP-21 provides needed funds and represents a milestone for the U.S. economy:
  • The first multi-year transportation authorization enacted since 2005
  • Funds surface transportation programs at over $105 billion for fiscal years (FY) 2013 and 2014
  • Transforms the framework for investments to guide the growth and development of the country’s vital transportation infrastructure.
DCFEMS is recognized by FTA as the 30th SSOA in the country. That recognition currently carries over until the full implementation of MAP-21.  (See FTA’s correspondence from January 10, 2013).  
The SSOO/ SSOA is in the process of achieving complete and full certification under MAP-21. It is important to note that of all the programs across the country only two were granted full certification status. 
Number of states applying for certification: 30
Number of states granted full certification by October 1, 2013: 2 (Massachusetts and California)
Number of states deemed sufficiently close to certification: 21 (including DC)
Number of states requiring FTA intervention: 7
We continue to actively work with our partners at FTA toward full certification; in the meantime we continue with our oversight activities and responsibilities. No grant funds have been affected.  For more information, see FTA State Certification FAQ’s linked below.
Next Steps
The SSOO continues to work every day with internal and external stakeholders toward complete certification under MAP-21 and ensuring that the public is kept safe during all phases of the Streetcar project as they  move toward revenue operations in 2014.
Q:   What is the difference between SSO, SSOO, SOA and SSOA?
A:    These terms are used interchangeably. They stand for the State Safety Oversight (SSO), State Safety Oversight Office (SSOO), State Oversight Agency (SOA) and State Safety Oversight Agency (SSOA).  All terms refer to the program which oversees the safety of the DC Streetcar system and is independent from the operational functions of DCFEMS.
Q:   Is the SSO program certified under MAP-21?
A:    The short answer is not yet.  While the program is not certified under MAP-21, the SSO operations continue to fulfill its responsibilities to the safety of the DC Streetcar project.  The FTA certification is primarily a review of program from an implementation perspective to legally, financially, procedurally and technically carry out its charged responsibilities. It is also important to note the District is building an infrastructure from scratch.  This takes time and is being done with careful thought and execution. 
Q:   Does the SSOO staff need to be certified?
A:    Yes. The first two FTE hires have completed all available rail safety courses required by the FTA to obtain the Transportation Safety and Security Program Certification. As the program continues to develop and expand, new staff will also receive the necessary training. Additionally, continuing education for staff will be vital to ensuring our staff is current with the most up to date training in the industry.
Q:   Does the SSOO have industry experts working with them?
A:    Yes. A request for proposal (RFP) was solicited on November 19, 2012, closed on December 10, 2012 and the contract for services was awarded to Transportation Resource Associates (TRA) on April 12, 2013. TRA, headquartered  in Philadelphia, PA, was founded in 1990 and has over twenty years of providing safety and security solutions to its clients. Among TRA’s clients are U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Transit Administration; Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles Metro System.
Q:   How many injuries have occurred on the line?
A:   To date there have been no injuries reported to the State Safety Oversight Office.  Our role is to work toward preventing any injuries but if we must respond to any incidents, we will be prepared.
Q:   Who is responsible for oversight DCFEMS or SSO?
A:    While the Mayor granted DCFEMS as the State Oversight Agency, it is the State Safety Oversight Office which carries out the responsibilities of Safety Oversight for DC Streetcar program.  It is important to note that while the SSOO is housed within the DCFEMS structure; it is entirely independent from operational activities in the agency.