Minnesota Department of Transportation

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MnDOT Policies

Public Engagement

For MnDOT employees; earning customer trust and increasing transparency; plans, projects, programs, services and activities

MnDOT Policy OP008
View/print signed policy (PDF)

Policy statement

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is committed to increasing transparency and collaboration and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to participate in public engagement.

The Public Engagement policy focuses on internal duties and responsibilities related to plans, projects, programs, services and activities. The policy serves as a foundation for MnDOT’s commitment to public engagement by its employees. MnDOT pledges on-going engagement and relationship building with the public to earn trust and mutual understanding.

Engaging early allows sufficient advance time for local partners to assess, plan, and budget for the associated impacts and opportunities. MnDOT will keep the public informed, listen to and acknowledge concerns and aspirations, and provide feedback on how public input can influence decisions.

Reason for policy

  • To establish expectations for MnDOT employees
  • To ensure compliance with the law
  • To identify individual and team roles and responsibilities for public engagement activities, including consultants, contractors and sub-recipients

Professional expectations

The public trust and confidence in MnDOT employees is critical to the success of the agency. MnDOT must use its authority and resources in the public interest. The department also expects its employees to adhere to the highest ethical values when conducting state business, MnDOT Code of Ethics Policy and Minnesota Statutes §43A.38.

Legal context

We are obligated to read, understand and comply with the law in all aspects of our work to ensure that all people have the opportunity to participate in our decision-making. There are numerous legal provisions that require MnDOT to pursue public engagement actively. Examples include:

  • The Title VI Program is MnDOT’s pledge to provide its programs, activities and services free from discrimination. As a recipient of federal funds, MnDOT and its sub-recipients must comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes. Under MnDOT’s Title VI policy, the types of prohibited discrimination include race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability and persons with limited English proficiency.
  • Environmental Justice, Executive Order 12898, requires MnDOT to consider the unique needs of different socioeconomic groups in transportation decision-making. MnDOT addresses issues of equity and fairness through an analysis of the environmental and health impacts on minority and low-income populations.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.

Who needs to know this policy

  • All MnDOT employees must comply with the law and meet expectations in our relationship with the public at any point of contact
  • MnDOT staff responsible for:
    • Communicating and engaging with the public, including affected businesses
    • Ensuring that MnDOT complies with all legal and regulatory requirements associated with public engagement
    • Building and maintaining relationships with community-based organizations
    • Planning, scoping, designing, delivering and constructing projects
    • Conducting transportation system plans, modal plans and corridor studies
    • Maintaining and operating the statewide system
    • Working with contractors and consultants
    • Monitoring sub-recipients of federal funds

Procedures

The following procedures for this policy provide a framework for initial public engagement activity. While there is no one-size fits all approach to public engagement, MnDOT recognizes that any public engagement effort must address the anticipated effect the plan, project, program or service may have on users and the surrounding community. The public engagement plan is a starting point and we must remain flexible by thoughtfully considering feedback received and addressing the input and issues that may arise. Project Managers should also refer to Project Management Guidance and Tools (for employees) for steps in the overall transportation project development process. The Office of Public Engagement and Constituent Services is responsible for the MnDOT public engagement. Link to Public Engagement at MnDOT website (for employees), a resource for employees.

Initial assessment for public engagement

  • Know legal requirements
  • Consider the needs of all users and neighboring communities near transportation projects
  • Determine the scale of the public engagement effort
  • Determine how public engagement may affect this plan, project or service. MnDOT will inform, consult, involve, listen, and collaborate with the public.

Create a public engagement plan of action

Not all plans, projects, programs, services or activities require a written plan. The type of plan depends on the scale of the public engagement effort.

  • Establish the goals and objectives for public engagement. Determine the level of effort required to meet the goals and objectives.
  • Identify audiences (i.e., impacted businesses, neighborhoods, etc.) and different approaches (i.e., town hall meeting, social media, surveys, community conversations, etc.) for each project milestone to reach the target audiences.
    • Local, state and federal government agencies
    • Tribal government officials
    • Business owners and operators
    • Community leaders, major community entities, established community connections (individuals, faith-based groups, civic groups, foundations)
    • All users and modes of travel, including the motoring public, transit, freight and commercial vehicle operations, aeronautics, bike and pedestrian, and passenger rail
    • Potentially affected interests (examples include special interest groups, landowners, etc.)
  • Determine roles and responsibilities among team members.
  • Review the draft public engagement plan with project partners. Consider opportunities to engage jointly with the public and possibly share resources.

Develop the public engagement budget estimate for inclusion in the project budget

  • Estimate the necessary internal and external human resource needs.
  • Include resource estimates in project scoping reports and budgets.

Implement the public engagement plan

  • Document and retain information from public engagement processes.
    • Circle back with the public and summarize what MnDOT learned during the engagement process and how the input informed the project plan or study. Explain why MnDOT was not able to use all input, if that is the case.

Review and adjust public engagement practices to improve the processes and outcomes with feedback from internal and external audiences

  • Share successes and challenges with peers to help grow MnDOT’s institutional knowledge.

Responsibilities

Public engagement is the responsibility of all employees. Each plan, study, project, or activity has specific roles and responsibilities to establish clear expectations for those responsible for public engagement. The following list provides direction for primary accountabilities.

Leadership Team

Commissioner and Senior Leadership Team
  • Create the “tone at the top” in recognizing the importance of public engagement in MnDOT’s work
  • Support and ensure the integration and adequate resourcing of the Public Engagement policy, allowing MnDOT programs, projects and planning to carry out the objectives and requirements of this policy
Office Directors
  • Manage statewide planning for all modes of travel, including the motoring public, transit, freight and commercial vehicle operations, aeronautics, bike and pedestrian, and passenger rail
  • Manage statewide project development and management, construction and maintenance activities
District Leadership Team
  • Oversee district public engagement activities, including plans, budgets, and results
  • Oversee district planning, project management, construction, and maintenance activities
  • Collaborate with cities and counties, and other agencies on plans and projects of mutual interest, while establishing and maintaining on-going relationships with the public and community groups.

Planning and Program Delivery Team

  • Design, plan and conduct public engagement for projects, plans and studies
District Planning and Modal Office Directors
  • Responsible for public engagement for plans, studies, and capital programs
Project Managers/Sponsors
  • Lead project-level public engagement activities, including plans, budgets, and results
  • Consult with public affairs coordinators on public engagement planning
  • Link project scope, schedule and budget performance to public engagement
  • Meet with local partners regarding active participation and decision-making in public engagement activities
Public Affairs Coordinators and CO Communications Staff
  • Collaborate with planners, project managers and project teams to develop public engagement plans
  • Collaborate with communication and public engagement consultants delivering work for MnDOT
  • Provide timely updates on projects while work is underway
  • Respond to customers and monitor feedback
  • Ensure that graphics, websites, social media, print, and video are customer-focused
  • Ensure compliance with website standards, laws, regulatory requirements, and ADA standards

Maintenance and Operations

  • Consult with public affairs coordinators on maintenance and operations plans and activities that may impact traffic

Specialty Offices

  • Specialty office support is available for consultation and coordination in areas such as public engagement and constituent services, civil rights, environmental stewardship, planning and project management, and communications.
  • For more information and contacts go to:
    • Office of Public Engagement and Constituent Services Public Engagement at MnDOT website
    • MnDOT Communications Contacts (Central Office & District Public Affairs Coordinators)
    • Statewide MnDOT Office Locations and Contact Information
    • MnDOT public meetings and opportunities to comment on project and plans

Related information

History of policy updates or amendments

Effective date as signed by responsible senior officer.

Ownership

Policy owners

Kim Collins, J.D.
Director, Office of Civil Rights & Title VI Coordinator for MnDOT
kim.collins@state.mn.us
651-366-3150

Richard D. Davis
Director, Public Engagement & Constituent Services
richard.d.davis@state.mn.us
651-366-3052

Policy contacts

Sarah Rudolf
Statewide Public Engagement Coordinator
sarah.rudolf@state.mn.us
651-366-3177