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FHWA Order 4710.7

Classification Code Date Office of Primary Interest
4710.7 December 16, 1998 [office]

  1. PURPOSE. To establish a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) American Indian Issues Coordinating Committee.


    1. Members of federally recognized Tribes and Alaska Native Villages affected by FHWA funded programs and projects have rights based on inherent sovereignty and expect to have active relationships with the Government.

    2. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991, Public Law 102-240, codified a number of provisions aimed at increasing the involvement of American Indians and enhancing the transportation systems on which American Indians depend. The provisions specifically address the involvement of tribal governments in the States' transportation planning processes, safety, bridges, and allowable uses of funds for projects on reservations, On-the-Job Training (OJT) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Supportive Services, Local Technical Assistance Programs (LTAP), and Indian employment preference on and near reservations. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) amended Title 23 to provide funding for Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) and bridges consistent with a formula to be established by the Secretary of the Interior, in accordance with the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. It also clarifies the status of Indian tribes for purposes of Title 23, and provides for safety and access for the disabled at tribal facilities.

    3. The President's April 29, 1994, memorandum on "Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments," and the FHWA guidance memorandum issued on December 12, 1994, outlined principles to be followed in interactions with tribal governments, whether they take place as part of the Federal-aid or Federal Lands Highway (IRR) programs. The report of the FHWA Indian Issues Task Force, dated February 4, 1998, providing guidance on relations with American Indian tribal governments and specifying current options and obligations, and Executive Order (E.O.) 13084, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, issued May 14, 1998, reflect the development, evolution, and clarification of national and Agency policy in this area.

    4. In accordance with TEA-21, Section 1115, the Federal Lands Highway Office is working with the Assistant Secretary of the Interior to develop a negotiated rulemaking with tribal governments on the administration of IRR programs and the allocation of funds. Development of the negotiated rule will take 2 to 3 years.

    5. The FHWA is committed to building more effective day-to-day working relationships with Indian tribal governments reflecting respect for the rights of self-government, based on principles of tribal sovereignty. As the FHWA addresses issues and concerns affecting American Indian tribal rights, these endeavors must be consistent with the guidance provided by the FHWA Indian Issues Task Force, be implemented in a knowledgeable, sensitive manner, and be respectful of tribal sovereignty.


    1. The Committee will review and consider implications of proposed FHWA directives affecting federally recognized Tribes and Alaska Native Villages and make recommendations to ensure effective approaches are employed in FHWA and State relationships with Indian tribal governments, consistent with guidance in E.O. 13084.

    2. The Coordinating Committee will review, coordinate, address and, where appropriate, recommend establishment of Federal-aid, Federal Lands, and Motor Carrier Safety programs, policies, and issues affecting American Indians to the Federal Highway Administrator.

    3. While the primary objective of the Coordinating Committee is to ensure effective implementation of E.O. 13084, its members will:

        (1) review, develop, and recommend proposed policies, with input from the FHWA Headquarters and field offices and authorized representatives of Indian tribal governments, to the Federal Highway Administrator;

        (2) increase the level of awareness of the FHWA and State staffs regarding responsibilities in matters involving American Indian tribes, and obligations to ensure that FHWA programs provide the intended benefits to and adequately consider the concerns of tribal governments and members;

        (3) keep the FHWA and State transportation officials informed of policies, programs, initiatives, and actions that affect American Indians; and,

        (4) provide advice to the FHWA and State DOT officials and tribal government leaders on transportation issues and concerns affecting American Indians.

    4. The Coordinating Committee will draft, coordinate, provide input, advice, and recommendations to the Federal Highway Administrator with regard to:

        (1) establishing FHWA policies to address Government-to- Government and other relations with Indian tribal governments;

        (2) ensuring that proposed legislation, regulations, and guidelines affecting federally recognized tribes and Alaska Native Villages are fully coordinated before issuance;

        (3) ensuring consistent approaches are employed in:

          (a) identifying and minimizing or eliminating the barriers to Indian tribal government participation in the various FHWA programs;

          (b) establishing appropriate and effective partnerships to assist tribal governments to deal effectively with transportation issues;

          (c) developing or modifying training modules to ensure inclusion of information on how specific programs or processes benefit or otherwise affect Indian tribal governments;

          (d) notifying Indian tribal governments in sufficient time to allow representatives to be sent to the National Highway Institute and other FHWA-sponsored training provided to staff members of the State DOTs;

          (e) ensuring regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with Indian tribal governments in the development of regulatory practices on Federal matters that significantly or uniquely affect tribal communities;

          (f) reviewing programs, policies, regulations, and guidance to reduce the imposition of unfunded mandates upon Indian tribal governments;

          (g) to the extent practicable, streamlining application processes for and increasing the availability of waivers to Indian tribal governments;

          (h) ensuring the Environmental Justice principles outlined in E.O. 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, and DOT and FHWA implementing guidance are incorporated in and fully complied within all actions affecting Indian tribal governments; and

        (4) coordinating, through the Federal Lands Highway Office, with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to ensure consistency with Department of the Interior policies affecting Indian tribal governments.

  4. CONSIDERATIONS. Some of the major considerations that the Coordinating Committee will address in its deliberations are:

    1. tribal sovereignty;

    2. Federal-aid vs. trust responsibilities;

    3. tribal employment rights (TERO), and Indian employment preference on and near reservations;

    4. OJT and OJT Supportive Services;

    5. DBE and DBE Supportive Services;

    6. access for people with disabilities;

    7. gas taxes;

    8. outdoor advertising;

    9. safety;

    10. transportation planning;

    11. the functions of right-of-way;

    12. location and design;

    13. maintenance; and,

    14. safety monitoring on Federal, Federal-aid, and other Indian reservation roads.


    1. Chairperson. J. B. Wlaschin, Chief, Engineering and Operations Division, Federal Lands Highway Office.

    2. Members

        (1) Teresa Banks, Civil Rights Specialist, Western Resources Center;

        (2) Janice W. Brown, Division Administrator, Montana Division;

        (3) Linda J. Brown, Chief, Policy and Program Development Division, Office of Civil Rights;

        (4) Bruce Eberle, Environmental Specialist and Federal Preservation Officer, Office of Environment and Planning;

        (5) Raymond McCormick, P.E., Team Leader for State and Local Programs, Office of Technology Applications;

        (6) Tim Penney, P.E., Highway Engineer, Traffic and Driver Information Systems Division, Office of Safety and Traffic Operations Research and Development;

        (7) Vivian Philbin, Attorney Advisor, Office of Chief Counsel;

        (8) Rudolfo Ramirez, P.E., Highway Engineer, Safety Design and Operations Division, Office of Highway Safety;

        (9) Dee Spann, Team Leader, Statewide Planning, Intermodal and Statewide Programs Division, Office of Environment and Planning;

        (10) Francine Shaw-Whitson, Executive Potential Program, Federal Lands Highway Office;

        (11) Jerry Yakowenko, Contract Administration Group Leader, Highway Operations Division, Office of Engineering.

    3. Because this Committee has continuing and significant responsibilities, individual members may be replaced over time by their unit managers. It is expected that the organizational units represented in the composition of the original Coordinating Committee will maintain representation. The Committee will also seek temporary participation by FHWA staff members when additional expertise is needed to address specific tasks or issues.

    4. Administrative support for the Coordinating Committee will be provided by the staff of the Office of Civil Rights.

Original signed by:
Kenneth R. Wykle
Federal Highway Administrator

Page last modified on October 19, 2015
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