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New ADOT agreements with Arizona tribes make project funding easier

Contract language benefits Arizonans as well as tribes
July 10, 2018

PHOENIX – Collaboration with other governments can be complicated, particularly when it comes to sovereign nations. But a recent change in the Arizona Department of Transportation’s contract language with tribal governments is making it easier to partner on transportation projects.

For decades, if ADOT wanted to work with a tribal government, the tribe had to agree to a “waiver of limited sovereign immunity.” Essentially, the waiver required the tribe to take any mediation on a project to the state’s courts instead of the tribe’s own courts. As a result, many projects never came to be because tribal governments were unwilling to agree to that language.

“The Arizona Management System challenges every ADOT employee, everywhere, to identify ways to improve our value to customers,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “This contract language was getting in the way of a lot of essential projects, so we asked, ‘Why?’ It turned out we could get rid of it with minimal risk to ADOT and to taxpayers.”

One area that has improved with the change is a new agreement with Arizona’s tribes regarding transfers of federal funding to the Tribal Transportation Program, which is how Arizona’s tribal governments receive transportation funding.

Previously, local transportation projects on tribal land would be funded and administered in much the same way that ADOT administers local transportation projects with other communities, with ADOT overseeing every part of the process including contractor selection, design phase and construction.

With the new language in agreements, ADOT is able to hand over that responsibility directly to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Federal Highway Administration or tribes, saving ADOT time and resources.

ADOT’s tribal liaisons were instrumental in improving the contract language between ADOT and the tribal governments, working with leaders including the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona.

“The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona was pleased to assist in the coordination of efforts that resulted in the amended contract language,” said Maria Dadgar, executive director of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. “We see this as a successful action which will facilitate partnerships with tribal nations in Arizona.”

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Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ADOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability. Persons that require a reasonable accommodation based on language or disability should contact ADOT’s Civil Rights Office at civilrightsoffice@azdot.gov. Requests should be made as early as possible to ensure the State has an opportunity to address the accommodation.

De acuerdo con el título VI de la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964 y la Ley de Estadounidenses con Discapacidades (ADA por sus siglas en inglés), el Departamento de Transporte de Arizona (ADOT por sus siglas en inglés) no discrimina por raza, color, nacionalidad, edad, género o discapacidad. Personas que requieren asistencia (dentro de lo razonable) ya sea por el idioma o por discapacidad deben ponerse en contacto con la Oficina de Derechos Civiles en civilrightsoffice@azdot.gov. Las solicitudes deben hacerse lo más pronto posible para asegurar que el equipo encargado del proyecto tenga la oportunidad de hacer los arreglos necesarios.