Technical assistance is the provision of specific information and support to help subrecipients comply with applicable state and federal regulations and best practices. In a broad sense, it includes data-gathering or outreach to assess which subrecipients are in need of assistance, and it is generally understood that technical assistance is different from training (though the two could overlap). Eighty-four percent of states responding to the 2013 RTAP Manager’s Inventory indicated that they provide technical assistance. Most of these provide draft policies and procedures and best practices, over half perform data collection activities, and about 40% conduct surveys as part of their technical assistance analysis. Other states indicated that they provide one-on-one, hands-on assistance to subrecipients as needed, annually, or at another pre-determined interval. Washington State RTAP provides peer reviews, which consist of a team of providers facilitated through the RTAP program that provides one-on-one technical assistance.
A 2011 National RTAP State RTAP Managers’ Webinar session presented the different types of technical assistance offered by California, Kansas, Florida, and New York. These include:
- Procurement documentation review for federal and state compliance
- Policy review and assistance
- Program management assistance
- Helping with vehicle procurement
- Providing toolkits online
- Planning assistance
- Publishing technical brief-type papers
In the presentation, Kansas RTAP noted that technical assistance used to help one transit agency could easily be shared widely to reach many more.
For states who outsource some or all of their RTAP programs, technical assistance may be provided by the contractor. Some states, like Florida, provide specific technical assistance through different contractors. For example, a contractor may provide expertise, training and technical assistance for Drug and Alcohol, while the state will provide general technical assistance for other areas. Several states reported that technical assistance activities were funded through a state budget or a program other than RTAP.
State RTAP managers can use AASHTO’s Multi-State Technical Assistance Program (MTAP) to provide and receive technical assistance from other state RTAP programs, as well as National RTAP's State RTAP Managers' Forum. Transit operators can find technical assistance resources from a variety of places other than the state RTAP program. These include National RTAP, CTAA, and many other organizations listed in the How to Find Anything Toolkit.