Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration
Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Partnering and Leveraging

As shown in the picture

Also available for download (PDF, 3.6 MB)

To view PDF files, you need the Acrobat® Reader®.

Continue to contents...

This summary provides tribal decisionmakers and planners with a brief summary of the process of partnering with other organizations and leveraging resources for transportation planning. It is based on the module Partnering and Leveraging, which is one of twelve modules in the series Transportation Decisionmaking: Information Tools for Tribal Governments produced by the FHWA Office of Planning to educate tribal planners and decisionmakers about the tribal transportation planning process and to provide them with program information.

What is Partnering and Leveraging?

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.

Why is Partnering and Leveraging Important?

One challenge in tribal transportation planning is allocating limited resources to many types of projects. Partnering with other agencies and leveraging its resources enables the tribe to spread limited resources over a broad range of needs and essentially “do more with less.”

Potential Partners

All transportation service providers, operators, managers, and planners in the region are potential partners and members of a wider professional network. The tribe and its potential partners all share the common goal of addressing their community’s transportation needs. The tribe’s potential partners include: the State DOT; Metropolitan Planning Organization; County/City DOT; and the local transit agency.

Steps in Partnering and Leveraging

There are four basic steps in developing partnerships and leveraging resources:

Step 1. Cultivate Partner Relationships Successful partnerships are built on positive relationships with transportation counterparts. Developing these relationships involves identifying transportation venues where information can be shared and networking can take place, and participating in the transportation decision making process, especially during tribal consultation. Cultivating partner relationships by networking and participating in the planning process ensures that the tribe will have greater exposure to funding, increased knowledge of the planning process and stakeholders, and stronger ties within the larger professional network.
Step 2. Define Specific Need Getting involved in a partnership is a large undertaking. The decisionmakers will need to consider the need for the partnership and how the tribe will participate, contribute, and benefit. This includes reviewing internal capabilities and tribal needs, evaluating potential partners that have expressed an interest in partnering with the tribe, assessing the legal ramifications of a partnership, and seeking agreement from tribal leadership. Conducting an internal review of the need to partner will benefit the tribe by bringing into focus the purpose of the partnership, who will be involved, and how the tribal transportation program will benefit.
Step 3. Structure the Partnership If a tribe decides to enter into a partnership with an interested agency, a framework is necessary to outline each party’s role, responsibilities, and the expected outcomes. To create a framework, the tribe and the agency will need to initiate a formal agreement, come to a consensus about the goals of the partnership, agree on each partner’s roles and responsibilities, and agree on the resources each party will contribute. These terms can be signed by both parties in a Partnership Memorandum of Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding.
Step 4. Manage the Process Once the partnership is place, it should be monitored to ensure the mutually agreed to goals are achieved in the manner agreed to by both parties. In this, the partners will continue to build trust, develop a professional work environment, evaluate performance, and record the lessons learned from the partnership experience. When the final step has been completed, the partnership will have completed the project and have a mutual trust for future partnerships.

How does Partnering and Leveraging Relate to the Rest of the Modules?

This module is closely aligned with 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.

What is the Transportation Decisionmaking Information Tools for Tribal Governments Series?

The figure below shows how each of the twelve modules in the series relate to each other.

Each of the training modules is laid out in this graphic of the training module series. At the top of the image is the Introduction to Planning module. Below are three modules, Developing a Long-Range Transportation Plan, Data Collection and Use, and Public Involvement, aligned in a row labeled “planning.” Underneath these modules are two more, Tribal Consultation and Partnering and Leveraging aligned in a row labeled “Tribal Intergovernmental Relations.” Below them are four modules, Developing the Transportation Improvement Program, Funding Resources, Financial Planning, and Project Prioritization, aligned in a row labeled “programming.” In the bottom-most row, labeled “other elements,” are the remaining two modules, Safety and Asset Management. All of the modules are encompassed in a large circle with the rows labeled just outside.


Theresa Hutchins, FHWA Office of Planning
Phone: (360) 753-9402

Michelle Noch, FHWA Office of Planning
Phone: (202) 366-9206

Kyle Kitchel, FHWA Western Federal Lands High Division
Phone: (360) 619-7951

Brian Beltyon, FHWA Resource Center
Phone: (410) 962-0086

Additional Resources

Transportation Planning Capacity Building Website:

FHWA Tribal Transportation Planning:

Continue to contents...

Updated: 10/20/2015
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000