A metropolitan planning organization (MPO) is a federally mandated and federally funded transportation policy-making organization in the United States that is made up of representatives from local government and governmental transportation authorities. They were created to ensure regional cooperation in transportation planning.[1] MPOs were introduced by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962, which required the formation of an MPO for any urbanized area (UZA) with a population greater than 50,000. Federal funding for transportation projects and programs are channeled through this planning process. Congress created MPOs in order to ensure that existing and future expenditures of governmental funds for transportation projects and programs are based on a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive (“3‑C”) planning process. Statewide and metropolitan transportation planning processes are governed by federal law (23 U.S.C. §§ 134135). Transparency through public access to participation in the planning process and electronic publication of plans now is required by federal law. As of 2015, there are 408 MPOs in the United States.[2]


Purposes of MPOs:[citation needed]

In other words, the federal government requires that federal transportation funds be allocated to regions in a manner that has a basis in metropolitan plans developed through intergovernmental collaboration, rational analysis, and consensus-based decision making.[citation needed]


Typically, an MPO governance structure includes a variety of committees as well as a professional staff. The “policy committee” is the top-level decision-making body for the planning organization. In most MPOs, the policy committee comprises:[citation needed]