Resources for Tribes and Tribal Governments


Under the leadership of Secretary Chao, we are committed to improving existing tribal transportation resources. This webpage serves as a portal to assist tribes and tribal governments find the information and contacts they need at the Department.

Tribal Consultation Plan

The President signed the “Tribal Consultation” Presidential Memorandum on Thursday, November 5, 2009. This Presidential Memorandum directs executive departments and agencies to take certain actions to implement Executive Order (EO) 13175. The Presidential Memorandum requires that:

  • Each agency head submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a detailed plan of actions the agency will take to implement the policies and directives of EO 13175.
  • Agencies must submit to OMB a progress report on the actions taken pursuant to these plans together with proposed updates to the plan.

PHMSA Tribal Assistance Protocol

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is dedicated to providing Indian tribes (tribes) with technical assistance to help in their efforts to improve the safety and efficiency of tribal pipeline systems. Affirmed in treaties, Supreme Court decisions, and executive orders, PHMSA has a government-to-government relationship with Indian tribal governments, and provides technical assistance as requested.

View the Protocol





U.S. Department of
Office of the Secretary
of Transportation
400 Seventh St., S.W.
Washington, DC 20590
U.S. Department of Transportation Tribal Consultation Plan
1. Purpose Statement
The United States government has a unique legal relationship with Federally-recognized
Indian tribal governments as set forth in the Constitution of the United States, treaties,
statutes, and court decisions. The Federal government recognizes the right of selfdetermination for Indian tribal governments and the obligation to work with Indian tribal
governments in a government-to-government relationship. As an executive agency, the
U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has a responsibility and is committed to
working with Indian tribal governments in this unique relationship, respecting tribal
sovereignty and self determination.
The USDOT seeks to foster and facilitate positive government-to-government relations
between the Department and all Federally-recognized Indian tribes. The purpose of this
plan is to develop, improve, and maintain partnerships with Indian tribes by using agreedupon processes when the Department develops, changes, or implements policies,
programs, or services with tribal implications.
2. Designated Official
The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs is the Department’s
Designated Official responsible for implementation of this plan, and related policies and
requirements. The Designated Official will advise and make recommendations to the
Secretary of Transportation on USDOT policies, issues, programs, and activities with
tribal implications. The Designated Official will also update this plan as necessary.
3. Summary of the Memorandum, Executive Order and USDOT Order
On November 5, 2009, President Obama issued a Memorandum on Tribal Consultation
reaffirming the unique legal and political relationship with Indian tribal governments and
tasked executive departments and agencies with creating detailed plans of actions that
they will take to implement the policies and directives of Executive Order 13175,
“Consultation and Coordination with Indian tribal Governments” (Nov. 6, 2000). The
memorandum gives agencies 90 days from issuance to create their plans of actions and
directs agencies to create their plans in consultation with Indian tribes and tribal officials.
Executive Order 13175 recognizes the unique legal relationship that the Federal
government has with Indian tribes and sets forth the criteria agencies should follow when
formulating and implementing policies that have tribal implications. In addition,
Executive Order 13175 requires Federal agencies to establish a consultation process for
interactions with Indian tribes in the development of regulatory policies that have tribal
The USDOT issued Order 5301.1, “Department of Transportation Programs, Policies,
and Procedures Affecting American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Tribes” on November
16, 1999. This Order affirms the Department’s and the USDOT Modal Administrations’
unique legal relationship with Indian tribes, establishes the Department’s consultation
and coordination process with Indian tribes for any action that may significantly or
uniquely affect them, and lists goals for Modal Administrations to meet when carrying
out policies, programs, and activities affecting American Indians, Alaska Natives, and
tribes. The requirements established for Modal Administrations under this Order are
designed to recognize Indian statutory preferences in employment, Federal financial
assistance arrangements, and contracting; respond to the transportation concerns of
Indian tribes related to environmental justice, children’s safety and environmental health
risks, occupational health and safety, and environmental matters; foster opportunities for
hiring tribal members and increasing participation in Federal training activities; include
tribal colleges and universities in Departmental educational, research, and program
activities; and treat correspondence from leaders of Indian tribes in the same manner as
Congressional correspondence. The Department affirms its commitment to these
principles, and those set forth in Executive Order 13175 and the President’s November 5,
2009 memorandum, in establishing this plan of actions.
4. Definitions
1. “Consultation” refers to meaningful and timely discussion in an understandable
language with tribal governments.
2. “Indian tribe” or “Tribe” means an Indian or Alaska Native tribe, band, nation,
pueblo, village, or community that the Secretary of the Interior recognizes as an Indian
tribe pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994, 25 U.S.C. 479a.
3. “Tribal government” refers to the recognized government of a tribe.
4. “Tribal implications” means substantial direct effects on one or more Indian
tribes, on the relationship between the Federal government and Indian tribes, or on the
distribution of power between the Federal government and Indian tribes.
5. “Tribal member” refers to a member of a tribe as determined by tribal
membership rules.
6. “Tribal officials” means elected or duly appointed officials of Indian tribal
governments or authorized intertribal organizations.
7. “Tribal colleges and universities” refers to those institutions cited in Section 532
of the Equity in Educational Land Grant Status Act of 1994 (7 U.S.C. 301 note) and any
other institution that qualifies for funding under the Tribally Controlled Community
8. College Assistance Act of 1978 (25 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) and Navajo Community
College, authorized in the Navajo Community College Assistance Act of 1978 (Public
Law 95-471), Title II (25 U.S.C. 640a note).
9. The “U.S. Department of Transportation,” “USDOT,” and “Department” refer to
the Office of the Secretary of Transportation and its Modal Administrations, which
include the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the
Federal Transit Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the
Maritime Administration, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration,
the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, and the Saint Lawrence Seaway
Development Corporation.
5. Goals and Actions
The USDOT will continue to support the fundamental principles of self-government, selfdetermination, and tribal sovereignty specified in Executive Order 13175. The USDOT
will implement this plan to establish meaningful consultation and collaboration with
tribal officials in the development of Federal policies that have tribal implications, and to
strengthen the government-to-government relationship between the United States and
American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Indian tribal governments. Specifically, the
USDOT will:
Foster meaningful government-to-government relations by:
 Ensuring participation by Department officials at national tribal conferences,
tribal/state meetings, summits, and conferences discussing tribal issues.
 Establishing direct contact with Indian tribal governments, including visiting
tribal governments at reservations, Native Villages, and communities.
 Seeking tribal government representation in meetings, conferences, summits,
advisory committees, and review boards concerning issues with tribal
Improve existing tribal programs by:
 Seeking tribal input when the USDOT develops or revises regulations with tribal
implications and providing adequate time to allow for comment.
 Notifying tribes of grant opportunities through multiple means, including direct
letters and emails whenever appropriate, as well as announcements on the
USDOT website and in the Federal Register.
 Providing timely technical assistance on changes to legislation, regulations,
programs, and grants.
Ensure meaningful tribal input into future tribal transportation programs by:
 Developing policy and programs using input, guidance, and recommendations
from tribal leaders.
 Seeking and responding to comments from tribal governments.
 Soliciting tribal comments in the development of the USDOT’s surface
transportation reauthorization proposal.
 Conducting meetings throughout the country after the passage of the next surface
transportation authorization legislation to discuss impacts on and opportunities for
the tribes and their transportation systems.
 Consulting with tribal governments on making transportation services available to
improve mobility, employment opportunities, and access to community services
for people who have disabilities, are elderly, or low-income.
Ensure the USDOT’s uniform and effective delivery of tribal programs throughout the
country by:
 Reviewing existing tribal policies in USDOT’s Modal Administrations to ensure
consistency with this action plan and each other.
 Assessing the resource needs of the tribal transportation programs at the USDOT.
 Developing training modules for USDOT employees on tribal transit and highway
 Developing a training program for USDOT employees regarding tribes, the
sovereignty of tribal governments, and the unique government-to-government
relationship between tribes and the Federal government.
 Reaffirming USDOT’s commitment to working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs
on the administration of tribal highway safety grants.
 Continuing to support the tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP).
 Addressing tribal transportation issues in USDOT Strategic Plans.
 Enhancing support for tribal Liaisons in the Federal Transit Administration, the
Federal Highway Administration, and the Federal Aviation Administration and
other staff throughout the Department working with tribal governments.
 Coordinating efforts among USDOT’s Modal Administrations by establishing a
Department-wide working group tasked with making specific recommendations to
the Secretary of Transportation.
Assist in implementing tribal infrastructure projects by:
 Building capacity of tribes on USDOT Programs and processes, including the
Indian Reservation Roads Program and the Tribal Transit Program.
 Initiating a review of the grant process for the Tribal Transit Program in
consultation with the tribes.
 Working with tribal governments to develop case studies and best practices in
transportation planning and highway safety.
 Developing a highway Safety Management System (SMS) for tribal governments
and forming a Steering Committee that includes tribal representatives to advise on
the SMS.
 Identifying and communicating to tribal leaders emerging issues that could impact
tribal transportation programs.
 Publishing guidance on the USDOT’s programs with potential benefits to tribal
Assist tribal members in developing transportation capacities by:
 Increasing internships for American Indians and Alaska Natives at the USDOT
through outreach to tribal colleges and universities.
 Creating a webpage for tribes on the USDOT website.
 Increasing the representation of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the
USDOT workforce, within merit principles and consistent with the application of
appropriate veterans’ preference criteria.
Assist efforts to coordinate national tribal infrastructure policy and programs within the
Federal government by:
 Working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Indian Health Service, and
the Bureau of Indian Affairs to coordinate Federal tribal infrastructure programs
and incorporating livability principles as adopted by the Department’s
Sustainability Partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
6. Accountability
Plan Transmission. In accordance with President Obama’s Memorandum on tribal
Consultation, the Designated Official will submit to the Director of the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) this detailed plan by February 3, 2010.
Progress Reports. The Designated Official will submit to the Director of OMB a
progress report on the status of each action included in this plan, together with any
proposed updates to this plan, within 270 days. The Designated Official will submit such
progress reports annually thereafter.
Regulations. In transmitting any draft final regulation that has tribal implications to
OMB, the USDOT shall include a certification from the Designated Official stating that
the requirements of this plan have been met in a meaningful and timely manner in
accordance with Executive Order 13175.
Legislation. In transmitting proposed legislation that has tribal implications to OMB, the
USDOT shall include a certification from the Designated Official stating that all relevant
requirements of this plan have been met in accordance with Executive Order 13175.



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