Plan sufficient time for facilitating and accommodating interagency relationship-building for major events.

Boston, Massachusetts’s experience with transportation planning for special events.

Boston,Massachusetts,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

Developing a regional transportation plan for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) was complex because it involved multiple agencies, often with overlapping jurisdictions and priorities. Staff at many of these agencies were not accustomed to working closely with staff at other agencies in the course of day-to-day operations, and political turf battles often arose at the senior levels of the various agencies.

Development of the operations plan was slow and painstaking because there were numerous state, local, and regional agencies involved, and there was no single person with final authority over the plan. In order to ensure interagency coordination in the design of a management and operations plan, the DNC Host Committee convened a weekly meeting of all interested transportation and security officials. Attendees were decision-makers and senior operations staff for the various agencies, which allowed decisions and adjustments to be made quickly. Ultimately, the representatives of the various transportation and security entities pulled together and worked collaboratively. When interviewed, many interviewees stated that 18 months was not enough time to properly plan for the convention. All the interviewees (federal, state, and local) stressed the importance of early planning, consistent and appropriate agency participation and regularly scheduled meetings.
  • Build trust among federal, state and local partners early in the planning process. Many of the federal players had not worked with state or local officials; even the locals were often strangers to each other. Moreover, some agency staffs had occasionally been adversaries. Building trust among such disparate players takes time. So does the recognition of partnering opportunities—a full inventory of all available resources should happen early.
  • Develop a regional operations plan for the special event. Transportation engineers and security officials initially had conflicting missions, different perspectives, and opposing priorities. It took many protracted meetings over 18 months to understand each other's needs and requirements.

This lesson points out that the complex challenges of the 2004 DNC forced various agencies and their staff to work together in ways that had not occurred in the past. Project time needs to be allocated for facilitating and accommodating interagency relationship-building. Transportation and security agencies practiced and refined security activities, and different levels of staff and management learned to work together. Several interviewees commented that the bonds formed before and during the convention continue to help resolve day-to-day transportation issues.

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Transportation Management and Security During the 2004 Democratic National Convention

Author: Allan DeBlasio et al

Published By: Prepared by Volpe for the USDOT

Source Date: 1/1/2005

EDL Number: 14120

Other Reference Number: Report No. FHWA-JPO-05-040

URL: https://www.hsdl.org/?abstract&did=28320

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Lesson Contacts

Lesson Contact(s):

Terry Regan
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

Lesson Analyst:

Jane Lappin
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center


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Lesson ID: 2006-00198