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Environmental Review Toolkit

Collaborative Problem Solving: Better and Streamlined Outcomes for All

Guidance on Managing Conflict and Resolving Disputes between State and Federal Agencies During the Transportation Project Development and Environmental Review Process

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Joint Briefing Paper Template

Following is a template that could be used to prepare joint briefing paper to accompany a dispute that is referred upward for resolution by higher authorities.

The purpose of the Joint Briefing Paper is three-fold:

  1. To ensure there is a common definition of the issue and to focus the decision makers on the question to be resolved.
  2. To indicate the nature of the issue and the type of expertise needed to aid informed decision making.
  3. To clarify areas of agreement and disagreement and provide a simple, succinct description of the issue(s) and situation.

The paper is prepared jointly by the participating agencies. In cases where decisions makers request agency position papers or "background papers," these should be prepared separately by the respective agencies.

  1. Joint overview of the issues (3-5 pages):
    1. The Question. [The key question to be answered by the decision makers, including a joint statement of recommendation, if any, by the agencies.]
    2. Issue Descriptions. [A brief statement of the nature of the issue, identifying whether they are legal, technical, policy or resource in nature. The issue description may identify sub-issues that are included under the main issue.]
    3. The Urgency of the Issues. [A description of the need and a recommended timeline for decision making, including a statement of the consequences of delay in decision making.]
    4. The Potential Impact of the Issues/Decision. [An identification of the risk, cost, precedent-setting nature, local/regional/national significance and other impacts and implications of the issues.]
    5. Assertions. [A listing of the assertions of each participating agency relevant to each unresolved issue.]
    6. Background and Findings of Fact. [A succinct description of the historical and/or environmental conditions of the site or situation that sets the stage or context for the issue. This section may include a stipulation of relevant facts to which the parties agree and an identification of facts which remain in disagreement. Quotations from relevant documents may be included as part of the informational background to the issue.]
    7. Options Considered to Date. [A listing, with brief descriptions, of the options that have been considered to date by one or more of the participating agencies. The listed options provide a set of decisions from which the decision makers may or may not select. This listing of options provides specificity to the decision makers about the response that is requested.]

  2. Supportive documents. [Relevant attachments, such as cost analyses, technical or legal evaluations, documents from regulatory agencies, etc.]

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