Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS)
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has embraced CSS as a way of delivering on its mission of "providing the highest quality integrated transportation services for economic benefit and improved quality of life." MDOT has a structure comprised of 7 Region offices and 26 Transportation Service Centers (TSC) throughout the state of Michigan to encourage better working relationships between stakeholders and staff. This structure gives a CSS approach to project development, construction and maintenance by providing ease of access to MDOT staff for stakeholders in addressing their community's transportation needs from offices in or near their communities.
The policy of MDOT's CSS consists of three fundamentals: Stakeholder Engagement, Flexibility, and Effective Decision Making. As a companion to the formal training, MDOT is currently working on tools to assist region office staff in addressing local community needs and to help in building partnerships. MDOT had major issues in how to conduct stakeholder engagement activities for their projects. Some of these issues were:
Guidelines for Stakeholder Engagement
In February 2009, MDOT released "The Guidelines for Stakeholder Engagement" to address these issues. The guidance was assembled by an interdisciplinary team and presented to the CSS Steering Committee. The committee is compromised of representatives from MDOT and nineteen local, State, and federal organizations. Valuable input was provided by the committee as well as learning about MDOT's commitment to CSS and how it is used in decision making. The document provides the MDOT staff with techniques to engage the local stakeholders early and often during project development. It has been formulated to allow the most flexibility in approaches to maintaining a consistent process for implementing stakeholder engagement statewide.
"Guidelines For Stakeholder Engagement" is posted on the CSS page of the MDOT public website as well as MDOT's internal intranet for easy staff accessibility. The document is formatted so it can be easily updated and kept current with FHWA and MDOT policies, strategic goals, and feedback from staff and stakeholders. The success of "The Guidelines for Stakeholder Engagement" document has initiated an effort by local agencies along with MDOT to create a companion tool focused on how to help local stakeholders engage MDOT on transportation issues. This effort is currently underway and is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2009.