The fully competitive University Transportation Center (UTC) program will consist of two components: a base portion of multimodal and multidisciplinary UTC consortia around particular theme areas plus an additional $20 million that will be reserved for a targeted multimodal RESEARCH program for which the UTCs can compete. By funding university research and education, the USDOT is investing in our nation's intellectual transportation capacity.
The University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program's mission is to advance transportation expertise and technology in the many disciplines that comprise transportation through education, research and technology transfer at university-based consortia.
The UTC Program provides a critical transportation knowledge base outside of the USDOT and addresses critical workforce needs for next generation of transportation leaders. DOT proposes to reform the UTC program by competitively selecting UTC consortia that will be governed by peer review principles.
All UTCs will be selected via rigorous competition that will include incentives for addressing key USDOT priorities (strategic goals, diversity, international collaboration, multi-state consortia, etc).
Performance metrics will ensure that transportation research and workforce needs are met, programmatic targets are realized, and that funds are being effectively invested. Reporting requirements will be strengthened to include explicit details of research results.
All UTCs will be diverse collaborations of more than one university. The UTC consortia will also advance transportation, education, and workforce development through degree-granting programs, seminars and training for practicing professionals, and outreach activities to attract new entrants to careers in transportation.
They will be multi-disciplinary, and multi-modal, with a focus on products that inform policy or spur innovation. UTCs will use the Transportation Research Board's Research in Progress and Transportation Research Information Service databases and will participate in USDOT Research Clusters via the www.transportationresearch.gov collaborative website to avoid duplication of efforts and to ensure wide awareness of efforts and dissemination of research results.
Each competitively selected UTC consortia will receive baseline funding. These competitively selected recipients will also be eligible to receive funds from the UTC Multimodal Competitive RESEARCH Grants.
RITA will receive UTC Program funding through an allocation from the Federal Highway Administration ($72,000,000) and a reimbursable agreement from the Federal Transit Administration ($8,000,000). The Secretary shall expend not more than 1.5 percent of amounts made available to carry out management and oversight of this program.
Most USDOT research is funded on a mode-by-mode basis. In order to encourage cross-modal research, the Secretary will appoint an internal cross-modal USDOT governance council to select annual priorities for targeted research needs. The University Transportation Center (UTC) Competitive Research Grant Program reserves 20 percent of the total $100M competitive UTC program to provide USDOT's modal administrations access to the nation's top academic researchers and University-based laboratories to address specific cross-modal RESEARCH priorities in the areas of safety, state of good repair, economic competitiveness, livable communities and environmental sustainability. This program will allow all modal administrations to bring research needs, unanticipated issues, and quick-response problems to the table on an annual basis that UTC universities can compete for. This unique cross-modal program will enable USDOT staff to engage directly in partnership with UTC researchers to solve pressing problems or support policy decisions on a more nimble and responsive basis. Eligible recipients of these grants will be any of the universities participating in the competitively selected UTCs.
RITA will receive University Transportation Center (UTC) Multimodal Competitive Research Grants funding through an allocation from the Federal Highway Administration ($20,000,000). Frequently, UTCs develop promising results in their outlined baseline funded programs that modal administrations wish to capitalize on or to more specifically focus. These funds will allow modal administrations to develop Statements of Work to obtain that follow-on research to answer specific questions or to tap into unique expertise developed by a particular UTC consortium.
The Multimodal Innovative Research Program is a restructuring of the current Advanced Research Program, managed by RITA. The existing Advanced Research Program is a reimbursable program with FHWA that funds research relevant to FHWA but also applicable to other modal administrations. The bulk of the projects in this program are managed by RITA as non-competitively awarded multi-year grants covering designated topic areas of research. One set of competitively awarded Cooperative Agreements covers a specific, congressionally specified area of research. Using the DOT RD&T Planning Team and RD&T Planning Council as cross-modal selecting bodies, the new program will fund a set of collaboratively outlined long-term RESEARCH priorities. Competitively solicited proposals for the research will be open to bid by industry, university or state-based stakeholders and will serve as the basis for this Departmental, multi-modal research agenda. Guided by the USDOT RD&T Strategic Plan, this initiative will create opportunities for funding cross-modal research that is aimed at solving transportation problems at the interfaces between modes, or problems that affect more than one mode. The initiative will also include a component fostering creativity and innovation that can support a competition and prize program aimed at solving urgent transportation problems, and in support of the Administration's Open Government initiative. This program will also support key partnerships with other Federal agencies to fully leverage their investments in transportation research and product development to address transportation research issues.
The program will competitively award contracts for advanced multimodal transportation research to facilitate practical innovative approaches to solve transportation problems related to attainment of USDOT strategic goals and multi-modal elements of the DOT RD&T Strategic plan; to address issues affecting policy, and cross modal concerns such as efficient and intermodal goods and passenger movements; and to support development of advanced vehicle technologies and application/repurposing of existing technologies such as remote sensing & spatial information products.
Research products and results from this initiative will provide:
Successful projects will support U.S. DOT strategic goals by applying state-of-the art advanced technology solutions to multimodal transportation issues.
The program will focus on research to result in quick turnaround' products applied vs. basic technology development including methodologies, policy guidelines, planning tools, prototypes/pilot products for practical application.