A DOT administration that combines research-driven innovation and entrepreneurship to ensure a safe and robust transportation network.
Secretary Mineta's vision for RITA reflects its unique position in the Department: a crosscutting DOT administration dedicated solely to RD&T and the implementation of innovative technologies. RITA will provide counsel to the Secretary on innovation and research, and enable better coordination within the Department and with RD&T stakeholders.
RITA's mission reflects its legislative mandate and directly supports DOT's mission to Develop and administer policies and programs that contribute to providing fast, safe, efficient, and convenient transportation at the lowest cost consistent with the national objectives of general welfare, economic growth and stability, the security of the United States and the efficient use and conservation of the resources of the United States.2
RITA's strategic goals respond to this mission and directly contribute to each of the Department's strategic objectives: safety, mobility, global connectivity, environmental stewardship, and security.
To realize its vision, mission, and goals, RITA proposes crosscutting strategies in the following areas:
Identify and facilitate solutions to the challenges and opportunities facing America's transportation system.
RITA Strategic Goals
Provide a focused research, statistics, and analytical capability dedicated to furthering the Department of Transportation's mission and objectives.
Promote crosscutting transportation technologies and innovations.
Ensure the effectiveness of the public investment in transportation research, development, and technology.
RITA will lead the newly established RD&T Planning Council, and its Planning Team, to focus RD&T priorities (see Section 4). As a result of this planning process, RITA will develop both an annual RD&T plan and a multi-year RD&T strategic plan in consultation with stakeholders and the DOT operating administrations.
With support from RITA, the RD&T Planning Council and its Planning Team will annually review RD&T programs to ensure they implement the Administration's RD&T investment criteria. In addition, RITA will develop broad guidelines for program reviews conducted by advisory councils or other bodies, and summarize review results in the annual RD&T plan.
RITA will facilitate coordination of RD&T in crossmodal areas such as hydrogen technology, remote sensing, and human factors. RITA will develop additional crossmodal working groups as needed, modeled on existing groups such as DOT's Human Factors Coordinating Committee (HFCC) and the Center for Climate Change and Environmental Forecasting. Finally, RITA will provide a clearinghouse for information on RD&T activities throughout the Department.
RITA will serve as DOT's principal advocate for, and advisor on, intermodal transportation RD&T. RITA will coordinate intermodal RD&T, both passenger and freight, including research needs identified by the RD&T Planning Council and the RD&T Planning Team.
RITA will work with the RD&T Planning Council and the RD&T Planning Team to analyze priority transportation issues and identify innovation gaps. This effort will be closely integrated with the RD&T strategic planning process.
RITA will promote partnerships by facilitating outreach sessions on opportunities for public-private collaboration, facilitating RD&T partnerships with other agencies, and working with the DOT operating administrations to identify mutual RD&T opportunities.
RITA will monitor research that supports long-term transportation advances.
RITA will monitor research that supports long-term transportation advances—including work in the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other agencies—to identify opportunities for collaboration and apply results to crossmodal issues. RITA will also facilitate DOT participation in the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), including such efforts as the National Nanotechnology Initiative and the Hydrogen Initiative.
RITA will disseminate information on DOT's international RD&T activities, facilitate information sharing with researchers in other countries, and monitor foreign research and technology. RITA will also work with the DOT operating administrations to identify new opportunities for transnational RD&T partnerships.
RITA will continue RSPA's management of the University Transportation Centers (UTC) program. Authorized by TEA-21, the program uses Trust Fund money to support 26 university centers across the country. In addition to managing the UTC program, RITA will integrate information on DOT's various university activities.
RITA will work with partners in academia and industry to build the professional capacity of the transportation workforce. RITA's activities will complement the efforts of DOT's operating administrations by reaching out to the broader transportation and education communities. In addition, the Administration's proposal for reauthorization of surface transportation programs—the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act—includes a provision for a new Transportation Scholarship Opportunities Program that RITA will administer.
As part of RITA, BTS will continue its statistical functions as authorized by statute. The agency's current mandate covers all modes of transportation and calls for the collection and analysis of data on topics relevant to DOT's strategic goals. BTS's mission is threefold: collect, compile, analyze, and publish objective transportation statistics; improve the comparability and quality of these statistics; and promote improvements in transportation data acquisition, dissemination, and use. BTS will continue to be a key resource for DOT's RD&T-performing administrations. The DOT operating administrations use BTS data and analysis to determine RD&T needs, priorities, and investment decisions. Stakeholders also rely on BTS data, which are transparent and follow quality guidelines for collection, compilation, and dissemination.
2DOT Strategic Plan 2003-2008, p. 19