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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Background." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Strategies to Optimize Real Property Acquisition, Relocation Assistance, and Property Management Practices. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22252.
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8Background Existing real property acquisition, relocation assistance, and property management practices at transportation agen- cies around the country are the result of decades of statutes, case law, regulations, and policies. Acquiring and managing real property is a complex process that attempts to balance, on the one hand, the goal to deliver transportation projects on time and within budget and, on the other hand, the need to comply with private property rights as required by the U.S. Constitution. Despite the availability of procedural manuals, brochures, guidelines, and training opportunities, officials at the federal, state, and local levels have considerable difficulty understanding the myriad laws, regulations, and policies that govern the acquisition and management of real property for transportation purposes. This is especially true for those who are new to the right-of-way profession and for project man- agers, engineers, planners, and other stakeholders who do not deal with real property procedures on a daily basis. Inefficiencies in the process used to acquire and manage real property have a significant impact on the ability of trans- portation agencies to develop and deliver transportation proj- ects effectively. Acquisition of real property is frequently on the critical path of transportation projects. Along with envi- ronmental reviews and utility relocations, delays in the acqui- sition of real property are one of the main reasons for project delays and cost overruns. Not surprisingly, great interest exists at all levels in the development of techniques and strategies to increase the effectiveness of the acquisition and management of real property with a goal to improve the development and delivery of transportation projects. The overall objective of NCHRP Project 20-84 was to (a) develop improved, integrated real property procedures and business practices in the project development and delivery process; and (b) develop suggestions to improve property management practices. Of particular interest was comparing typical business practices against the requirements in the Uni- form Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 as amended by Congress (the Uniform Act, codified as 42 U.S.C. 4601 et seq.), but without regula- tory encumbrances—more specifically, provisions in Title 49, Part 24 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR 24). The goal of this analysis was to determine which business pro- cess elements were critical to the mission of the real property function according to the requirements of federal law (and identify strategies to improve or optimize those elements), and determine which business process elements were not critical (and therefore could be either removed or improved). The analysis included an evaluation of many factors inter- nal to the acquisition and management of real property (i.e., typical right-of-way factors) as well as factors related to the integration of these activities with the rest of the project development and delivery process. Typical right-of-way fac- tors included, but were not limited to, appraisal and appraisal review, acquisition and negotiations, titles and closing, con- demnation proceedings, settlements, relocation eligibility determination, relocation assistance and payments, and con- tracting for services. Also included were utility accommoda- tion and relocation, property management, encroachment remediation, and administrative costs (including training). Factors related to the integration between right-of-way activ- ities and the rest of the project development and delivery process included, but were not limited to, integration points, scheduling, and linear versus parallel activities. C H A P T E R 1

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TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 771: Strategies to Optimize Real Property Acquisition, Relocation Assistance, and Property Management Practices provides improved, integrated real property procedures and business practices in the project development and delivery process. The report also provides suggestions to improve property management practices. The report is accompanied by a CD-ROM that contains an integrated model of the transportation project development and delivery process, including a real property acquisition and relocation assistance model and reference work schedule.

The CD-ROM is also available for download from TRB’s website as an ISO image. Links to the ISO image and instructions for burning a CD-ROM from an ISO image are provided below.

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