The Native American Liaison Branch (NALB) provides leadership and direction for the Department's effort to improve the government-to-government relationships with Tribal Governments by serving as a liaison between Caltrans; the 109 Federally-recognized Tribes in California; state, local and regional transportation agencies; and other key stakeholders. NALB facilitates compliance with Departmental policy and federal statues and regulations requiring that Tribal Governments be involved in transportation planning and programming processes.
The NALB develops recommendations and alternative actions in response to Federal and State legislation and regulations, facilitates agreements to implement planning and programming provisions, and may serve as the Department's ombudsperson on Native American issues.
Caltrans staff and regional transportation agencies are sometimes uncertain of the governance underlying the need to involve Tribal Governments and/or the appropriate methods of involvement required. NALB also serves as a resource in this area to both Caltrans and regional transportation agencies.
NALB participates with federal, state, and regional agencies and with Tribal Governments in the development of guidance for implementing federal and state planning and programming requirements. The branch also develops, oversees, and provides technical and policy-related information and guidance to the Districts, Tribal Governments, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (RTPAs), federal and state agencies, and other external groups.
The branch works with the Caltrans Native American Advisory Committee (NAAC) to improve government-to-government relationships between the Tribes and Caltrans. The committee provides advice to the Director about matters of interest or concern to the Tribes and their constituents.
NALB advises top management on evolving policy issues alternative courses of action and their consequences, and participates in studies and task forces to identify opportunities to optimize tribal transportation planning and programming.
Finally, with the help of the District Native American Liaisons (DNALs) and other partners, NALB identifies potential problem areas early and facilitates resolutions whenever possible in order to avoid the escalation of issues that the Tribes in California have with the Department.