RDT Funding Overview

RDT Funding Overview

The Department's RD&T program supports both national goals and the unique mission requirements of the following DOT research-performing offices and administrations:

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
  • Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST)
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
  • Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA)

This section of the RD&T Annual Funding Report presents an overview of the Department's RD&T budget for FY 2007 through FY 2009, including a breakdown by types of research and support for DOT strategic goals.

Funding Summary

Table 1 and Figure 1 on the following page show actual and requested RD&T funding for FY 2007–2009. The total FY 2009 request is up approximately 12 percent from the actual level in FY 2007 and about 7 percent from FY 2008. Within the operating administrations, RD&T funding is down compared to FY 2008, with the exception of FAA, FHWA, and RITA. The largest percentage reductions are in OST (27 percent); PHMSA (22 percent); and FMCSA (13 percent). The greatest percentage increase is in FAA's request, which is 23 percent higher than the actual level in FY 2008 to support development of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). The FY 2009 requests from FHWA and RITA are 6 percent higher. About 80 percent of the Department's entire FY 2009 request will support RD&T in FAA and FHWA.

Section 3, Appendix A, and Appendix B provide additional details on RD&T funding within the operating administrations.

RD&T Funding by Research Activity

The Department's RD&T request comprises the following three types of activities:

Research and Development (R&D). Includes basic research (research without a specific application); applied research (research to support a specific need); and developmental research (design, development, and improvement of prototypes and processes).

Technology Investment. Comprises demonstration projects and other related activities associated with R&D.

Facilities. Acquisition, design, construction, and repair of physical facilities used for R&D.

Figure 2 shows the breakdown of RD&T funding by these budget categories.

Funding within these categories has been fairly constant over the 3-year period covered by this report, with 70 to 74 percent for R&D, 24 to 28 percent for technology investment, and 2 percent for facilities. In FY 2009, 74 percent of the FY 2009 RD&T request ($881 million) is for R&D, including basic and applied research; 24 percent ($292 million) for technology demonstrations and related efforts; and 2 percent ($21 million) for upgrading or maintaining the Department's research facilities.

Support for DOT Strategic Goals

In addition to overseeing their respective transportation sectors, DOT's operating administrations share a commitment to advancing DOT goals and the RD&T strategies identified in the Transportation RD&T Strategic Plan (see Appendix C).1 Figure 3 shows the portion of the FY 2009 RD&T request that will address each DOT goal.

Over half of the FY 2009 request supports DOT's reduced congestion goal, a total of $645 million. Thirty-three percent, or $397 million, supports safety RD&T. Environmental stewardship accounts for 7 percent of the request, or $81 million, and organizational excellence for 5 percent, or $58 million. Global connectivity totals 1 percent of the RD&T request, or about $10 million. Security RD&T represents less than 1 percent, or $3 million. Section 3 and Appendix B provide further details on operating administration RD&T support for DOT goals.

FY 2009 Highlights: Crossmodal RD&T

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)($110M). The DOT's largest crossmodal initiative, this program supports the advancement of ITS through investments in major initiatives, exploratory studies, and deployment support. Increasingly, the ITS program targets investments to initiatives that have the potential for significant payoffs in terms of improving safety, reducing congestion, and enhancing productivity. Under the policy direction of RITA, the ITS Joint Program Office leads the program and coordinates activities among FHWA, FMCSA, FRA, FTA, and NHTSA. The current program is organized around nine major R&D initiatives and the Deployment Support Program. The Major Initiatives are large multi-year programs focused on a particular transportation issue with specific milestones and end goals. The Deployment Support Program consists of several programs all focused on providing the necessary tools, guidance, and training to support the deployment and operation of ITS by State and local governments.

University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program ($77M). Managed by RITA and funded by FHWA and FTA, the UTC program conducts basic and applied research to advance the body of knowledge in transportation; supports education programs to expand the transportation workforce; and provides capacity building to transportation professionals. SAFETEA-LU authorized the most significant expansion of the program to date, increasing funding and the number of UTCs from 33 to 60. In FY 2009 the Department will sponsor workshops to showcase UTC researchand produce an annual report describing program accomplishments.

Human Factors ($48M). The DOT Human Factors Coordinating Committee identifies and coordinates human factors research and ensures the appropriate application of the science of human factors to the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of transportation systems. Involving work in FAA, FHWA, FMCSA, FRA, and NHTSA, human factors RD&T in FY 2009 will address the development of guidelines, tools, and training to enhance error capturing and mitigation capabilities in the flight deck and maintenance environments; safety benefits of driver-assistance technologies; reducing alcohol- and drug-impaired driving, speeding, and aggressive driving and increasing use of occupant restraints; commercial vehicle driver factors that may increase crash risk; human factors issues associated with use of the Highway Driving Simulator; and introduction of the Human Systems Integration processes and techniques into rail operations.

Hydrogen Fuels and Safety R&D ($7M). Led by RITA and coordinated by DOT's Hydrogen Working Group, this initiative supports RD&T needed to safely and reliably transition the transportation system to a hydrogen economy. Involving research in FAA, FHWA, FTA, NHTSA, OST, and RITA, the program addresses hydrogen safety, operational reliability, security, transportation, and distribution, in cooperation with other agencies and with university and industry partners. Funding in FY 2009 will support the following activities: developing guidelines for the design and operation of hydrogen delivery and transport systems; conducting research on fuel cell vehicle system performance including crash, leakage, and electrical isolation detection; addressing policy issues associated with hydrogen infrastructure, safety codes, and standards; and conducting research to develop and evaluate non-destructive testing and safety inspection technologies for a hydrogen economy.

Remote Sensing ($6.8M). The Department's remote sensing program develops new applications of commercial remote sensing and spatial information technologies for use in infrastructure development and construction. Managed by RITA and funded by FHWA, the program will establish a national policy for and validate applications of these technologies in cooperation with a consortia of university research centers, industry partners, and State agencies. Work in FY 2009 will focus on new methods for monitoring the quality of infrastructure construction and condition assessment; application of space-based technology tools for freight flow management and congestion mitigation; and new and faster methods of collecting data for corridor planning and environmental impact assessment.

1 http://www.rita.dot.gov/publications/transportation_rd_t_strategic_plan/