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Systems Engineering — Federal ITS Requirement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Rule and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Policy require that all ITS projects be developed using systems engineering analysis. Systems engineering is an approach to designing projects that employs an iterative process in the design, testing, and evaluation of the implementation. A systems engineering approach requires the project team to consider all phases of a system’s lifecycle from the moment of the system’s conception to its installation. This means taking into consideration the stages of planning, design, procurement, deployment, operations, maintenance, expansion, and retirement of the system or subsystems.

What are the federal requirements?

On January 8, 2001 the US DOT published two important and related documents in the Federal Register: The Federal Highway Administration Final Rule and the Federal Transit Administration Policy on the National ITS Architecture. The Rule/Policy implements Section 5206(e) of the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA-21) in which all ITS projects funded with Highway Trust Funds shall be based on a systems engineering analysis.

How do I know if I have an “ITS” project?

An ITS project, as spelled out in the Final Rule, is any project in whole or in part that funds the acquisition of technologies, or systems of technologies, that provide or significantly contribute to the provision of one or more ITS user services as defined in the National ITS Architecture. In other words, an ITS project is any project that may provide an opportunity for integration at any point during its life. To see examples of some of Alaska’s ITS projects, and view the most recent ITS Architecture Implementation Plan and Final Report, go to:

For a list of National ITS Architecture projects / elements by Service Package, click here

How do I meet the Federal ITS Requirements?

Please download and fill out the Systems Engineering Checklist for each ITS project. Instructions are available on the form:

Do I have to conform to the Final Rule?

If you are using the Highway Trust Fund or the Mass Transit Account to pay for an ITS project, you must follow the Final Rule of developing your project using systems engineering. If you do have an ITS project, but you are not using Highway Trust Fund or Mass Transit Account dollars, you are not required to follow the Final Rule. However, we encourage you to follow the Federal Rule to foster a more efficient system.

Frequently asked questions on Final Rule

Systems Engineering Publications:

2017 Alaska ITS Architecture Documents
Systems Engineering Guidebook for ITS Version 3.0

Systems Engineering for ITS-An Introduction for Transportation professionals


Questions about the Iways program or website?
Isvan Gomez, ITS Coordinator/511 Manager