A Joint Powers Authority (JPA) is an entity permitted under California law (Government Code section 65001), whereby two or more public authorities (e.g., local governments or utility or transport districts) can operate collectively. Joint Powers Authorities may be used where:
- an activity naturally transcends the boundaries of existing public authorities.
- by combining their efforts, public authorities can achieve economies of scale unavailable to the individual member authorities, thereby being an effective funding resource, as well as establish a joint approach to work on common problems.
A joint powers authority is distinct from the member authorities; it has a separate operating board of directors. The authorizing agreement states the powers the joint authority will be allowed to exercise. The term, membership, and standing orders of the board of the joint authority are also specified. The joint authority may employ staff and establish policies independently of the public agencies.