The Section 106 review process is an integral component of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966. Prior to the NHPA being enacted, it was not uncommon for nationally significant historic resources to be irreversibly damaged or destroyed by many federal undertakings. Section 106 of the NHPA requires each federal agency to identify and assess the effects their actions will have on historic resources. The process requires each federal agency to consider public views and concerns about historic preservation issues when making final project decisions. The ultimate goal of Section 106 is to seek agreement among these participants regarding preservation matters arising during the review process.
Within GSA, Section 106 is managed by the Regional Historic Preservation Officer (RHPO). Regulations issued by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) guide the Section 106 review process, specifying actions federal agencies must take to meet their legal obligations. The regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations at 36 CFR Part 800, “Protecting Historic Properties.”
Section 106 has four basic steps:
- Initiate consultation by notifying the appropriate consulting parties. Consultation is between the federal agency, the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) or Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO), and other consulting parties including but not limited to the ACHP, certified local governments, and members of the general public with an economic, social or cultural interest in the project.
- Identify properties that may be affected by the project and determine if the property or properties are historic as determined by eligibility or listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Assess the effects of the undertaking on the resources in consultation with the SHPO or THPO and establish if they are adverse. Determining adverse effects on historic resources is based on criteria established by the regulations, 36 CFR Part 800 of the ACHP.
- Resolve adverse effects by developing and evaluating alternatives that could avoid, minimize, or mitigate these impacts on historic resources. The result of consultation is a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) or a Programmatic Agreement (PA). The MOA or PA is a legally binding document, which evidences the agency’s compliance with Section 106 and records the outcome of consultation and the effects of an agency’s project, projects or program on historic resources.