Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Project development

Functional groups

Public Engagement Section


The goal of the Public Engagement Section within the Office of Communications and Public Engagement is to ensure statewide quality and consistency of public engagement programs and practices across MnDOT districts, in specialty offices, and in functional areas such as multimodal programs and state highway planning and project development. 

Products the section provides

Public Engagement Strategy & Planning

  • Planning, guidance, and consultation:
    • Strategic engagement planning and facilitation
    • Tools and resources for creating public engagement plans and overcoming barriers to participation
    • Online public engagement and opinion surveys
    • Innovation and research, including PE pilot and demonstration projects
  • Tools and assistance for tracking and evaluating engagement
  • Review of public involvement/engagement plans
  • Technical assistance for planning and holding virtual meetings

Public Engagement Training

  • MnDOT Public Engagement Policy and guidance
  • Stakeholder/Situational analysis
  • International Association of Public Participation (IAP2)
  • Systematic Development of Informed Consent (SDIC)
  • Conflict Assessment and Management (with MnDOT Office of Project Management)
  • Handling People with Tact and Diplomacy (with MnDOT Office of Project Management)
  • National Environmental Policy Act/NEPA (with MnDOT Office of Environmental Stewardship

Statewide Coordination and Resources

  • Public Engagement Leadership Group (representing districts and specialty offices)
  • Public Engagement Practitioners distribution list and monthly meeting for
    • Shared learning, problem solving, takeaways, and best practices
  • Annual Public Engagement Workshop

What to expect from the section

  • Planning, guidance and consultation including, but not limited to:  
    • Access to and assistance in using plans, templates, and tools
    • Meeting planning and facilitation to work through the public engagement planning process
    • Guidance on how to engage with the public throughout the project development process
    • A step-by-step approach in developing a public engagement plan
    • Assistance in identifying the level of participation (from inform to empower) that defines the public's role in engagement plans
  • Training
    • Foundations in Public Participation (designed by IAP2)
    • Public Engagement that Works, with curriculum grounded in IAP2 principles 
    • Training offered in partnership with FHWA and MnDOT offices of Civil Rights, Environmental Stewardship, and Project Management and Technical Support
  • Information and Resources
    • Public engagement website
    • Incentives for public participation (MN GoMobile, nominal value trinkets and giveaways)
    • Public engagement liaison to MnDOT functional leadership groups
    • Public engagement liaison to FHWA (including NEPA guidance)
    • Access to additional IAP2 resources (monthly webinar, member benefits, etc.)

What you need to provide to the section

For public engagement planning, consultation and collaboration:

  • The purpose of your engagement
  • What you are trying to achieve
  • How planning and project decisions will affect the public (e.g., local partners, stakeholders, communities, user groups)
  • The level of engagement we are promising the public (IAP2)
    • Inform, consult, involve, collaborate and/or empower
  • The reach of the engagement initiative(s)
    • Who are you trying to reach?
    • How far, wide, deep and/or targeted should the reach of engagement be?

What the section expects from you

  • Design, plan and conduct public engagement for projects, plans and studies
  • Lead and manage project-level public engagement activities, including plans, budgets and results
  • Involve public engagement and communications staff early in planning, executing, documenting, and measuring public engagement efforts
  • Address and document public and community needs in project scope, schedule, and budget
  • Meet with local partners regarding active participation and decision-making for public engagement activities
  • Compliance with Public Engagement Policy and Guidance