Partnering and Leveraging
III:Steps in Partnering and Leveraging
While every circumstance is different, four steps generally define the partnering process. These are: cultivate partner relationships, review the need to partner, structure the partnership and manage the process. Each step is discussed here and summarized in Table 1.
Table 1: Steps in Building Partnerships
|1. CultivatePartner Relationships
||2. Define a Specific Need
||3. Structure the Partnership
||4. Manage theProcess
|Identify networking venues
||Evaluate tribe’s capabilities and needs
||Initiate formal partnership
|Network with your counterparts
||Evaluate potential partner’s capabilities and needs
||Achieve consensus on objectives
||Develop professional work environment
|Participate in the decisionmaking process
||Assess legal ramifications
||Agree on roles and responsibilities
|Discuss projects of mutual interest
||Seek agreement from tribal leadership
||Identify the resources each partner will contribute
||Capture lessons learned
Step 1: Cultivate Partner Relationships.
Positive relations with your transportation counterparts set the ground work for successful partnering.It is a continuous process that is undertaken whether there is an immediate opportunity to partner or not. It involves networking, collaboration and fostering trust with other transportation professionals.
Networking is the exchange of information or services among individuals and groups, specifically for the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.
- Identify networking venues. There are many networking venues for cultivating professional relationships. Their purpose is to promote training, information exchange and networking.Networking venues may include:
- – Statewide Transportation Summits
- – Regional Transportation Symposiums
- – Area Transportation Conferences
- – Training Workshops and Classes
The State DOT, MPO and the Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) are often sponsors of these activities.An example is the Michigan Tribal Transportation Safety Summit (http://www.ttap.mtu.edu/index.php?p=mittss) hosted in 2012 by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and co-sponsored by FHWA, the Michigan DOT and the Michigan TTAP.
- Network with Transportation Professionals. Participation in these networking venues has many benefits. They will enhance your understanding of current transportation issues and increase your and the tribe’s exposure to partnering opportunities. Participation will increase your understanding of how other transportation agencies work; their key personnel, their policies and projects; and their sources of funding. You, in turn, educate your colleagues on the tribe’s transportation policies and funding; and familiarize them with its LRTP and Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The process of communicating each other’s needs and programs should be reciprocal.
- Participate in the transportation decisionmaking process.Other important networking venues are the policy and advisory committees created by State and regional transportation agencies to ensure tribal participation in the transportation planning process.
Federal Laws Requiring Tribal Consultation
Title 23 USC - Highways - for impacts on tribal properties by Federal-aid projects.
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) – for environmental impacts on tribal properties.
National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) – for impacts on tribal historic, religious and cultural properties.
Federal laws require State and regional transportation agencies to consult with tribal governments on projects and plans that may impact tribal lands and properties. These laws are listed in the text box. The consultation process is an opportunity for you, as the tribe’s representative, to participate in these forums. The consultation, for example, may involve participation in a MPO or statewide transportation advisory group. Use these opportunities as networking venues and to familiarize yourself with State, regional and local transportation personnel; policies and projects; and funding resources. Take the opportunity to communicate your tribe’s transportation policies, projects and needs.
Check with the tribal liaison (or similar personnel) of the State DOT and MPO to determine the committees and events in which tribal participation is invited and encouraged.
TIP #2: Review the Introduction to Planning module and the Tribal Consultation module. They provide information on Federal requirements in tribal transportation planning and consultation. Consider ways to increase your participation.
TIP #3: Review the Financial Planning, Project Prioritization, Developing the Transportation Improvement Program and Developing a Long-Range Transportation Plan modules. These cover the many purposes and uses of the LRTP and TIP.
Cultivate Partner Relationships
- Identify networking venues.
- Network with your counterparts.
- Participate in the transportation decisionmaking process.
- Discuss projects of mutual interest.
- Discuss projects of mutual interest. In the course of your networking, you may discover (or be informed of) interests and opportunities for collaborating on a specific project of mutual interest to the tribe. It is in these informal encounters that information is exchanged, relationships are forged, trust is strengthened and partnerships take root.
- Benefits. The benefits of this first step in Partnerships and Leveraging are:
- – Greater understanding of transportation resources and potential funding.
- – Increased knowledge of the transportation planning process impacting tribal interests.
- – Stronger ties and trust within your professional network.
Step 2: Define a Specific Need.
If you consider pursuing a partnership, you will need to consider how the tribe will participate, contribute and benefit. This second step is an evaluation for determining the need for a partnership.
- Review internal capabilities and needs. Assess the tribe’s resources and how these resources match the tribe’s needs. Generally, the decision to enter into a partnership results from a determination that the tribe will benefit from the partnership either because of a shortfall in tribal resources or to supplement its existing resources and strengthen its ability to compete for Federal funds. What resources can the tribe contribute to the partnership and what will it need from the partners? This assessment should result in a listing of the tribe’s strengths (contributions to the partnership) and weaknesses (needs from the partnership), shown hypothetically here.
Tribe’s Internal Evaluation
Strengths and Needs in Undertaking a Partnership Project
Tribe Strengths (Contributions)
- Committed funding in IRR and FTA Grants (covering 30% of project cost)
- Plans and policies that endorse the project (LRTP and TTIP)
- Labor and manpower for operating the project services
- Grant writing capability.
Tribe Needs (Deficiencies)
- Additional funding—60% of project cost
- Skill in operating the transportation service
- Technical assistance and training
- Expertise in managing similar projects
- Evaluate potential partners. In addition to the tribe’s evaluation of its resources and needs, the capabilities of the potential partners should be considered and evaluated. Much of this will be informed by earlier observations, networking and informal discussions on the prospect of partnering. For the purpose of this training, assume three agencies have informally expressed interest in partnering on a project. One method for matching partner resources with tribe needs (which were determined above) is presented in Table 2.
Potential Partner 1 has all of the preferred pre-requisites including access to funding; skill in operating the service; knowledge of tribal needs and sovereignty; and successful past performance. Potential Partners 2 and 3 offer fewer resources but could support in other areas. From this and the earlier evaluation of the tribe’s capabilities, it appears a project partnership may be viable and beneficial to the tribe, especially with Potential Partner 1.
Table 2: Partner Evaluation
|Tribe’s Needs for Undertaking the Project
||Capability and Resources
|Access to project funding to cover tribe’s shortfall
|Skill in designing and operating the service
|Technical assistance and training capability
|Expertise in managing similar projects
|Other Critical Factors
|Knowledge of tribal needs and sovereignty
|Past performance in partnering with tribes
|Sound reasoning for partnering on the project
|Willingness to commit to long-term relationship
- Assess legal ramifications. Tribes are sovereign nations. Any decision to partner with another agency should involve legal review. In this initial phase, written or verbal opinion should be sought from the tribe’s attorney to assess whether a potential partnership will or will not impact or compromise sovereignty. Generally and in most cases tribal partnerships with outside agencies have not diminished sovereignty. However, should the tribe proceed to Steps 3 and 4 in this module, involvement of the tribe’s attorney should be continuous in the drafting and review of any partnership agreement, for example, and in discussion with tribal leadership.
TIP #4:For more information on tribal sovereignty, review the Statewide, MPO and FHWA Role in Tribal Consultation module.
- Seek agreement from tribal leadership. Your communications with tribal leadership on the possibility of a partnership is as important at this time as your earlier networking with the outside agencies. Explain the purpose and justification for the partnership to them. This may include:
- – Gaps in tribal resources resulting in delay in 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.
- – Favorable initial legal review on tribal sovereignty.
Review the Need to Partner (Internally)
- Review the tribe’s capabilities and needs.
- Evaluate potential partner’s capabilities and needs.
- Assess legal ramifications.
- Seek agreement from tribal leadership.
If tribal leadership agrees with your proposal, discuss its role. Which leader or leaders should participate in partnership activities - and why? This should be understood before formal action is taken with the outside agency.
- Benefits. The benefits of this second step in Partnerships and Leveraging are:
- – Sharper focus on the purpose of the partnership and each partner’s contribution and capabilities.
- – Assessment of the impact on tribal sovereignty.
- – Buy-in from tribal leadership.
Step 3: Structure the Partnership.
With a mutual decision to move forward by the tribe and the outside agency, a framework will be needed for the partnership.
- Initiate formal partnership. The formal invitation to partner should be presented in a written document explaining the reason for partnering, the mutual benefits to partnering and the process, roles, time frame and expected outcome. This is the starting point for crafting the Partnership Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).These documents are similar and discussion with legal counsel should help to determine which to use.
An example of the key points to be covered is provided here:
Example Partnership Agreement Key Points
Reason for Partnership: Connect regional and tribal bus lines.
Objective: Identify best operational design for route extensions.
Process: Sign agreement that outlines process and steps for achieving objectives.
Roles: Detail tribe and outside agency responsibilities and resources they will commit.
Funding: List all funding sources to cover project capital and annual operating costs.
Time Frame: Define project phases and expected date of completion.
Expected Outcome: New Regional-Tribal bus links in 2 years.
- Achieve consensus on objectives.In the first of perhaps many meetings, the objectives and needs of both parties should be spelled out. The interest and commitments expressed earlier by the tribe and agency should be reinforced.
The Partnership Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is a formal agreement between the agencies that memorializes their roles, responsibilities and commitments in the partnership.
- Agree on roles and responsibilities. The weight of partnership responsibilities should be balanced. The least desired outcome would be for the tribe to undertake all or most of the responsibilities and the partner, none. The questions the partners should mutually answer may include:
- – What is the specific role of each party?
- – How will the activities of the partnership be monitored?
- – If one partner believes the partnership is not performing as expected, how should this be addressed and resolved?
These terms and provisions should be spelled out in the partnership agreement.
Structure the Partnership
- Initiate formal partnership.
- Achieve consensus on objectives.
- Agree on roles and responsibilities.
- Identify the resources each partner will contribute.
Identify the resources each party will contribute. The reason the tribe is engaging in the partnership is to leverage its resources and increase its capacity to successfully complete the project. In this, there should be a clear understanding, beyond the earlier informal discussions, on the resources to be committed by each party.
The tribe may commit, for example, a portion of its IRR allocation and awarded tribal transit grants. The outside agency may commit a portion of its Federal program funds and its capability to perform technical project tasks and train tribal personnel. The partnership may also include a commitment to apply for future Federal grants together. The agreement, signed by each partner, communicates these commitments and how mutual interests will be served.
- Benefits. The benefits of this third step in Partnership and Leveraging are:
- – Initiate formal partnership agreement.
- – Achieve consensus on objectives.
- – Agree on roles and responsibilities.
- – Identify the resources each partner will contribute.
TIP #5: Appendix B: Review the Partnership Memorandum of Agreement between the Indian Township Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Maine Department of Transportation. It has similar features to those discussed here.
Practice While You Learn!
In reviewing the Spur Roads-SR103 project onpage 3:
- Who are the potential partners for the tribe?
- What common project goal and objective do they share?
- What would be the benefits of partnering with them?
- What could each contribute to the partnership?
Step 4: Manage the Partnership Process.
This final step focuses on monitoring the partnership to ensure it succeeds in achieving the mutual objectives of the partners.
- Build trust. Interactions among the parties must be efficient and open. This is facilitated by information sharing, scheduled meetings, presentations to leadership, field trips, training sessions and appreciation events. The objective, in addition to completing the project (on-time and within budget), should be to strengthen relationships and foster mutual respect among the partners.
- Develop professional work environment. Any work generated by the partnership should be managed professionally. If grant applications are generated, minutes recorded, legal opinions issued, analysis conducted or costs shared, these records should be accessible to either party at any time. Preserving its records legitimizes the partnership and strengthens it for future opportunities.
- Evaluate performance. At regular intervals, the partnership agreement should be revisited and its performance evaluated. The partners should discuss:
- – Were the objectives achieved?
- – Did each party fulfill its responsibilities?
- – What worked well?
- – What should improve?
Manage the Process
- Build trust.
- Develop professional work environment.
- Evaluate performance.
- Capture lessons learned.
- Capture lessons learned.The lessons from the partnership will inform and strengthen the tribe’s capabilities. Observations on performance should be documented and shared with tribal leadership as lessons learned.
- Benefits. The benefits of this last basic step in Partnership and Leveraging are:
- –Completion of the tribal project.
- –Trust and mutual respect to fortify future partnerships.
- –Lessons learned.
Practice While You Learn!
How can the four basic steps described here in building partnerships and leveraging resources be applied to the Spur Roads-SR103 project on page 3?