Federal law requires that a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) be designated for each urban area with a population of 50,000 or more. The MPO will provide a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive transportation planning process that results in plans and programs that consider all transportation modes and supports metropolitan community development and social goals. These plans and programs shall lead to the development and operation of an integrated, intermodal transportation system that facilitates the efficient, economic movement of people and goods.

There are twenty-three MPOs in Texas. Each of the MPOs receive federal funding for transportation planning. Many also receive state and local funds as well in order to carry out their mandated planning activities.

All MPOs are required to produce a Metropolitan Transportation Plan, Transportation Improvement Program, and a Unified Planning Work Program. In areas where they do not meet national ambient air quality standards, those MPOs have to produce plans that obtain air quality conformity in a specified time period.