The MAG By-Laws contain an underlying concept for the organization:
"The Maricopa Association of Governments is based on the principle that cities, towns, counties, and Indian Communities, which are closest to the people, should exercise the basic initiative and leadership and should have the primary responsibility for addressing those local problems and needs which require action on an area-wide or regional basis."
The Articles of Incorporation for MAG state that the association was formed to do the following:
- Provide a forum for discussion and study of regional problems of mutual interest to the governments in the region.
- Ensure, through cooperation and the pooling of common resources, maximum efficiency and economy in governmental operations, which will provide every citizen with the utmost value for every dollar.
- Identify and comprehensively plan for the solution of regional problems requiring multicity, town and county cooperation.
- Facilitate agreements among the governmental units for specific projects or other interrelated developmental actions or for the adoption of common policies with respect to problems that are common to its members.
- Attain the greatest degree of intergovernmental cooperation possible in order to prepare for future growth and development of the region.