Tribal Transportation Planning Module Series

July 23, 2013

Presented by
Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program
Federal Highway Administration/Federal Transit Administration

Transportation Decisionmaking: Information Tools for Tribal Governments
Module 4: Partnering and Leveraging

Jared Fijalkowski: Good afternoon. On behalf of the Federal Highway Administration, I would like to welcome everyone to the fourth of five Tribal Transportation Planning Module Series Webinars. Today's webinar will focus on Partnering and Leveraging.

My name is Jared Fijalkowski. I'm with the U.S. DOT's Volpe Center, and I will be moderating today's webinar.

Before we begin, I would just like to point out a couple features of our webinar room: On the bottom-left is a chat box that you can use to submit questions to our presenters throughout the webinar. We will answer questions at the end of the presentation, but please enter your questions as they come to you. If you are having any technical difficulties, please use the chat box to send a private chat message to Jared Fijalkowski.

We will make materials available for download at the conclusion of today's webinar, including the presentation itself. I wanted to mention that we are recording this webinar, so that your colleagues who are unable to join us may listen at a later date.

Before we begin, we have two poll questions for you to answer. I'm going to bring up that layout now. The first is “What is your affiliation?” Are you with a Tribe, TTAP, State DOT, MPO, etc. The second question is “How many people are participating at your computer today?” whether you're at your desk yourself or in a room with others. I will give you a couple of seconds to answer those. Great, thank you very much. Let's move back to the presentation layout.

We will have two presenters today. The first is Michelle Noch of Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) Office of Planning. The second is Kyle Kitchel of FHWA's Tribal Transportation Program. And now we'll start the webinar. Michelle…

Slide 2 - Presentation Overview

Michelle Noch: Thanks, Jared! Welcome to this training series on Transportation Decisionmaking Tools for Tribal Governments. This Training Series is brought to you by the Federal Highway Administration and is only informational. Today we will be discussing partnering and leveraging. The partnering and leveraging module will include a discussion on who the audience is for the training and what partnering and leveraging is. We will then walk through partnering and leveraging step-by-step. Finally, we will summarize what you have learned and point you toward additional resources.

Slide 3 - The Module Training Series

The Tribal Transportation Planning Training Module Series was created by the Federal Highway Administration to help tribal transportation planners expand their knowledge. The Series was designed to cover multiple aspects of capital (or hard infrastructure) needs, operation of transportation facilities, and ongoing maintenance. These materials are informational. The modules discuss common practices and sample methods for use by tribal planners. Tribes are sovereign entities and are not required to use the methods discussed in the training modules.

A total of eleven modules are available, including the one we are discussing here. These modules have been developed between 2004 and 2012. To download the modules, visit the web address shown on the screen. FHWA has a variety of other resources for tribal planners on the FHWA Tribal Transportation Program website at

Slide 4 - Training Modules for Tribal Transportation Decisionmaking

The Partnering and Leveraging module is one piece of a training series, depicted on the graphic above. Modules build upon each other, and are grouped into four areas: Planning, Tribal Intergovernmental Relations, Programming, and Other Elements.

Partnering and leveraging is closely aligned to six other modules: Long Range Transportation Plan, Tribal Transportation Improvement Program, Tribal Consultation, Financial Planning, Funding Resources, and Project Prioritization. Each instructs on how to protect and promote tribal interests in government-to-government relations.

I. Introduction

Let's begin with an introduction on the concepts involved in partnering and leveraging.

Slide 6 - Who is the Intended Audience for this Training?

Any official involved in tribal transportation can benefit from the training provided in the partnering and leveraging module.

Slide 7 - What is Partnering and Leveraging?

To begin our discussion of partnership and leveraging, let's define what a partnership is and what leveraging is. Partnerships are strategic agreements between two or more agencies to work together to accomplish a common goal. Leveraging is the strategic use of a partnership's combined resources to achieve a desired outcome, such as pooling funds to build a project. We will explain in greater depths why these two concepts are so critical in tribal transportation planning throughout the rest of this training session.

Slide 8 - Why is Partnering and Leveraging Important?

One major challenge in tribal transportation planning is deciding how to allocate limited resources across a broad field of needs. Partnering and leveraging help to overcome this challenge, and assist transportation planners in deciding how to spread sometimes limited resources over a range of needs.

II. An Overview

Let's do a brief overview of the key concepts involved in partnering and leveraging.

Slide 10 - Who are My Partners?

The first step in developing meaningful and long-lasting partnerships is figuring out who your potential partners are. All of the transportation providers, operators, managers, and planners within your region are part of your professional network, and are therefore potential partners. You all share the common goal of needing to address the transportation needs of your respective communities.

The table here shows five important tribal partners: the State DOT, your MPO, the county or city DOT, the local transit agency, and other tribal agencies, such as health and housing.

Slide 11 - Why is Leveraging Necessary?

Competition for funds has become a normal part of the transportation process. In this environment, leveraging the tribe's funds and resources with another agency's is an effective way to enter into the competitive funding process. This enables both agencies to do more with less.

And now I will turn it over to Kyle Kitchel to discuss the steps in partnering and leveraging.

III. Steps in Partnering and Leveraging

Kyle Kitchel: Thanks, Michelle! Good morning and good afternoon everyone. Here we're going to discuss the steps involved in partnering and leveraging.

Slide 13 - Steps in Partnering and Leveraging

There are four basic steps that generally define the partnering process. These are: cultivate partner relationships, review the need to partner, structure the partnership, and manage the process. We will discuss each step in greater detail as we move through this training, but a basic description in this slide gives you an idea of what each step involves.

Slide 14 - Step 1: Cultivate Partner Relationships

The first step in partnering and leveraging is cultivating partner relationships. Building partner relationships is a continuous, yet very important part of tribal transportation planning. It involves networking, collaboration, and fostering trust with other transportation professionals. In order to cultivate relationships, you should identify networking venues that promote training, information exchange, and networking. Such venues may include statewide, regional, and local transportation conferences, as well as training workshops and classes. At these venues, you should spend time networking with transportation professionals. Not only will you expand your understanding of current transportation issues and increase your tribe's exposure to partnering opportunities, but you will also increase your understanding of how other transportation agencies work. You can share similar information with others at these events. With that, really what we're trying to encourage is when you're attending these conferences that there's opportunity there. Even before you go to the conference you should have some type of game plan of what you will do there and what you want to achieve. I encourage you to write that down and have that with you.

Beyond the arena of these networking events lie policy and advisory committees, which are also a form of networking venue. Because State and regional transportation agencies are required to consult tribes on projects and plans that may have an effect on tribal lands, you always have the opportunity to participate in the forums created by these agencies to ensure tribal participation in the planning process. Participating in these types of planning sessions as well as other networking events will help you to familiarize yourself with State and regional authorities as well as current policies, projects, and potential funding resources. You may also find yourself discovering collaborative opportunities as you connect more with your local, regional, and State colleagues.

Slide 15 - Benefits to Cultivating Partnerships

Cultivating partnerships will bring you a greater understanding of transportation resources and potential funding. It will give you increased knowledge of the transportation planning process impacting your government's interests. Last, you will develop stronger ties and trust within your professional network.

Slide 16 - Step 2: Define a Specific Need

The second step in partnering and leveraging is an evaluation of how the tribe will participate in, contribute to, and benefit from a potential partnership. There are four courses of action you will take within step 2. First, you will have to review your tribe's internal capabilities and needs. This involves assessing your tribe's resources, and then how the resources match the tribe's needs. You will have to pose the question: What resources can my tribe contribute to the partnership, and what will we need from our partners? As part of this assessment, you can create a table that lists the tribe's strengths (what you can contribute to the partnership) and needs (areas where your tribe is deficient).

Slide 17 - Step 2: Define a Specific Need (continued)

As the second part of step 2, you'll have to evaluate all of your potential partners. In the same way that you evaluated your own tribe's strengths and needs, you will need to evaluate other potential partners' strengths and needs so that you can accurately decide which partners will make a good match.

Slide 18 - Sample Partner Evaluation

In evaluating partners, you will use many of the resources you've gathered in your networking endeavors. To keep track, create a spreadsheet, similar to the one shown here, that clearly shows the areas where their strengths align well with your deficiencies, and vice versa. The sheet here shows your own tribe's needs in undertaking a specific transportation project, and on the right shows which of the partners can help you fill that need. In this particular example, partner 1 matches all of your needs.

Slide 19 - Step 2: Define a Specific Need (continued)

Because tribes are sovereign nations, when entering into a partnership, tribes should always check with their attorney to assess whether a potential partnership will or will not impact or compromise sovereignty. The attorney should be involved throughout the duration of the partnership as well, both in drafting documents and participating in discussions with tribal leadership.

Tribal leaders should be consulted throughout the partnership process, and should be informed about the several components: any gaps in tribal resources that result in the delay of executing the tribal transportation program; reliable expressions of interest in partnering on the project from an outside agency; knowledge of each partner's resources, needs, and capabilities, and favorable initial legal review on tribal sovereignty. After your leadership agrees with the proposal, you should discuss their role throughout the project.

Slide 20 - Benefits of Defining a Specific Need

You will benefit from defining a specific need in the following ways:

Slide 21 - Step 3: Structure the Partnership

Once a mutual decision has been reached to move forward, you'll need to set up a formal framework to guide the partnership. This involves five key activities: initiating the formal process; achieving consensus on objectives; agreeing on roles and responsibilities; identifying the resources each partner will contribute; and putting your framework in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The formal invitation to partner should be presented to the outside agency in a written document explaining the reason for partnering, the mutual benefits of partnering, and the process, roles, time frame, and expected outcome. This will serve as the starting point for drafting the MOA or MOU. Next, you'll need to meet with your new partner and clearly outline the objectives and needs of both parties.

As a subsequent step, you'll need to meet with the outside agency and determine which responsibilities each group will have. On top of determining individual roles and responsibilities, you'll need to decide and commit to the resources each party will contribute. These don't necessarily have to be monetary contributions, but should add some benefit to the partnership. Last, the decisions should be clearly spelled out in the partnership agreement with help from your attorney.

Slide 22 - Benefits to Structuring the Partnership

The benefits of creating a formal structure for your partnership are:

Slide 23 - Step 4: Manage the Process

Once you've identified a partner and drawn up a formal and structured agreement, you need to manage the partnership process to ensure that it succeeds in achieving the mutual goals. The first thing you'll have to do is build trust between your tribe and your partner. To facilitate efficient and open interactions, you should share all relevant information you have about the project, schedule regular meetings with your partner, make presentations to tribal leadership, visit the project site, and provide training sessions and appreciation events to staff. Undertaking these activities will further help to strengthen relationships and foster mutual respect among the partners.

I'd like to add some advice given to me that I like to share in times like this. I once knew a project manager that had been managing projects for over 40 years. He gave me one piece of advice that has really stuck with me. He said what it really comes down to when you're managing a project or managing anything, is managing expectations. When you look at it that way it comes down to clear communication, in the context here, with your partner. So getting those expectations written down so everyone is clear and understands those expectations makes things run smoother than if you didn't do that, not that that will solve all problems. So again, I'd like to emphasis managing expectations.

In addition to building trust, creating a professional work environment will help to legitimize the partnership. Any grant applications generated, minutes recorded, legal opinions issued, analysis conducted, or costs shared should be accessible to both parties at all times.

Slide 24 - Step 4: Manage the Process (continued)

You'll also want to ensure that the partnership and its goals are on-track by regularly evaluating performance. Through a performance evaluation, the partners can ask each other “Are our objectives being achieved?” “Has each party fulfilled its responsibilities?” “What worked well?” “What can be improved?”

Be sure to also capture and record any lessons learned throughout the partnership process. This will help inform future partnerships and will help strengthen the tribe's capabilities.

Slide 25 - Benefits of Managing the Process

The benefits of managing the partnership process are that you will complete the tribal project, gain trust and mutual respect for future partnerships, and come away with lessons learned. Now with that I'm going to turn it back over to Michelle.

IV. Summary and Resources

Michelle Noch: Now that we have completed our instruction of the partnership process, you have a set of tools and resources available to you to further assist with future partnering and leveraging endeavors.

Slide 27 - Partnering and Leveraging Toolbox

Recall that there are four basic steps in the partnership process:

  1. Cultivate partner relationships.
  2. Define a specific need.
  3. Structure the partnership.
  4. Manage the process.

Slide 28 - Partnership and Leveraging Checklist

This checklist will help remind you of important activities to undertake in the process, and will help you develop the formal agreement.

Slide 29/30 - For Further Reading

For further information on tribal transportation and partnership and leveraging, please take a look at this list of resources.

I did want to point out Larry Keown's book “Working in Indian Country” as an invaluable tool to businesses, governmental agencies, Native American studies programs, and anyone who wants to learn about building successful business relationships and working with American Indian Tribes.

Understanding that relationships come first and business comes second is the first step in developing a successful business relationship when working with American Indian Tribes. There is more information available online at

Here are additional references for your information. This concludes the presentation and I will now turn it over to Jared to moderate the question and answer portion of this webinar.

Question and Answer

Jared Fijalkowski: Thanks, Michelle! I did have one question come in. I am going to switch to our question and answer layout. As we're talking about this question please feel free to add in any additional questions that you may have. We'll be happy to answer any questions that come in. The first one comes in from Sarah Webber: “Can you provide an example of a partnership that would threaten the integrity of a tribe's sovereignty?” I'll let Kyle or Michelle answer that one.

Kyle Kitchel: That's a good question. It's a legal thing when you ask that question so let me try to answer it to the best of my ability. Tribes, as you know, define sovereignty in many different ways and each tribe has their own understanding of what sovereignty means to them. Some tribes have their tribal codes. Some tribes don't. Some tribes have their court systems in place, where other tribes might have a traveling judge that hits the circuit. My point is this, tribes should have their lawyers involved in these partnerships because there might be something that violates the tribal code or a government-to-government relationship. Those could be many different things. I'll use one example from a particular area of the country. When a tribe enters into a partnership with the State, the State wants them to relinquish their sovereignty on that project. What does that mean? It means that in that project, and notice I'm focusing on the project, not saying they release their sovereignty in a comprehensive manner, but as it relates to this project. It really comes from the request from some companies that work on projects of this nature, or there may be some mismanagement from parties and another party wants to pursue legal action. I hope that answers your question.

Jared Fijalkowksi: Great, thanks Kyle. I don't see any other questions coming in.

Kyle Kitchel: Can Sarah respond back if that did answer her question?

Jared Fijalkowksi: Yes, Sarah says “Yes it did, thank you.” Michelle or Kyle, did you have any other remarks you'd like to add before we switch to the evaluation?

Well then we'll switch over to the evaluation layout. This is just a quick series of questions for you to give us a little bit of feedback on today's webinar. I'll leave this open for a while so you'll have plenty of time to answer them. Also another important thing to note is that on the left in the middle, you'll see a files box. That's where you can download some files related to this presentation. The first one is the presentation itself. The second is a certificate that says you participated in today's webinar. The third is the actual module as part of the series that Michelle mentioned earlier. Like I said, you'll have plenty of time to answer all of these questions. I really appreciate your feedback and you'll have time again to download these files. We'll also be posting the recording of the webinar and these files on the Tribal Transportation Planning website, so keep a look out for those as well. That concludes today's webinar. Thank you very much for participation, have a great day, and again continue to answer these questions and feel free to download these files. Thanks again.