Section 1. Introduction

Section 1. Introduction

RITA is the DOT administration primarily dedicated to RD&T coordination and management.

The Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act of 2004 was signed into law by President Bush on November 30, 2004. It embodies Secretary Mineta's vision of a Department-wide resource to guide the coordination and management of research, development, and technology (RD&T) activities. The Act dissolves the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), creating in its stead two separate administrations: the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). Through a realignment of other existing DOT entities, RITA comprises offices with research and analytical capabilities that were previously fragmented. These include:

  • The Office of Innovation, Research, and Education; the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center ; and the Transportation Safety Institute, all previously in the former RSPA
  • The Office of Intermodalism previously in the Office of the Secretary (OST)
  • The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)

RITA Roles and Responsibilities

As envisioned by the Secretary, RITA is the DOT administration primarily dedicated to RD&T coordination and management. A committed crossmodal focus will ensure that RD&T investments are effective and tied to DOT's strategic goals. In particular, the Act assigns to the RITA Administrator responsibilities for:

  • Coordination, facilitation, and review of DOT's portfolio of RD&T programs and activities
  • Support and advancement of RD&T on innovative technologies, including intelligent transportation systems (ITS)
  • Comprehensive transportation statistics research, collection, analysis, and reporting
  • Education and training in transportation and transportation-related fields
  • Activities of the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

With the establishment of RITA, DOT is putting into place an integrated RD&T planning process aligned with the DOT Strategic Plan . The DOT operating administrations will continue to conduct RD&T based on their agency missions, interactions with stakeholders, and knowledge of transportation technologies and challenges.

Summary of Report

This document responds to Section 4(g) of the Act, which requires the RITA Administrator to submit a report to Congress on DOT's current and projected RD&T priorities. This report was developed with broad stakeholder input obtained through a special session at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) annual meeting, a Federal Register notice1, and a dedicated email address for receiving responses. It also considers the RD&T contributions of other organizations and addresses methods to avoid unnecessary duplication.

In preparing this report, RITA recognizes that the legislative effort to reauthorize the surface transportation program, which is now taking place in Congress, will give additional guidance and funding authorization to DOT's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and some portions of RITA. As such, the planning activities and processes described in this document are subject to change and refinement, and will reflect the directions provided by Congress when the legislation is enacted.

The remaining sections of this report are as follows:

Section 2 — RITA's vision, mission, goals, and strategies

Section 3 — RD&T priorities and purposes for 2003 - 2008 that guide DOT research and the FY 2006 programs that support them

Section 4 — Crosscutting RD &T coordination and planning processes, including collaborative efforts with other agencies and stakeholders

Section 5 — Conclusion

Appendix A — FY 2006 RD&T budget requests for DOT's operating administrations

Appendix B — Results of DOT reviews of operating administrations' FY 2005 RD&T programs

1Federal Register , Vol. 70, No. 16, Wednesday, January 26, 2005.