Where We're Going
Data and information of high quality will support every significant transportation policy decision, thus advancing the quality of life and economic well being of all Americans.
What does this look like over our time horizon through 2005 and beyond?
- It is our vision that one day everyone will come to BTS before starting a planning effort or policy study related to transportation, and we will have good data and information to give them.
- This means that we will have data ready for every significant transportation policy analysis being conducted.
- The data will be good and clean and timely. We will be involved in setting up the process that makes the data good, clean and timely.
- We will make it easy to get DOT data, so that people will use the data more. People will use the data in many different ways, and find things that help make transportation better. High schools and colleges will use our data for teaching. We will encourage all of this.
- We will also be watching our data to discover emerging
trends as they unfold.
- We will seize relevant results and circulate them, so more
information will be developed through the synergy, and we
will make sure that the essentials are delivered to those who
can make transportation better.
- We will routinely observe system performance so we will
know how well transportation is doing and find out where
attention is needed. We will have the data so attention can be
directed to these spots and effective approaches are found to
deal with the issues.
Who are our customers?
- Other federal agencies
- States, MPOs
- Local governments
- Private sector
- General public
Our job is to make transportation better to enhance safety, mobility, economic growth, the human and natural environment, and national security (the five strategic goals of the Department of Transportation). This is our ultimate goal, from which we shall not waiver. We cannot do this all by ourselves, and we should not try. But we are part of the team that will. We must work with many, for our mission is bigger than we are. We can provide leadership for our part of the mission, and enthusiasm for all of it. Equally important, we must stay in touch with all of our customers and partners, ask often how we are doing, and heed their suggestions.
How Our Strategic Plan Will Work
From the more enduring mission of the organization and the strategic direction we have set, we will measure our success not in terms of activities but of outcomes. We will do this in six key areas that frame the strategic goals and objectives for BTS:
- Data and Analysis
These six goal areas reflect the key attributes of data and analysis that we have to get right if we are accomplish our mission effectively in a dynamic environment and realize the vision for BTS. It is through these goals that we contribute ultimately to the five strategic goals of the departmentsafety preeminent among them. We can be an important contributor toward achieving the DOT goals. But that requires that we continually rethink what we do and how we do it.
Our strategic goals and objectives will be our guideposts for judging success. Our guiding principles will provide general standards for how we must do our work, in order to maintain our long-term effectiveness. Together, these provide the basis for developing strategies and a mix of initiatives and activities that help us achieve success.
Our strategies and our initiatives must be flexible. This is important for two reasons. It provides wide latitude for the BTS workforce to be creative, to discover more effective ways to achieve the ultimate outcomes that our customers care about. And it allows us to adapt to changing circumstances and be ready to take advantage of opportunities that we cannot yet see. We will plan our activities and set milestones to track progress, but always with an eye on the outcomes.
The BTS Strategic Plan will guide decision making and all other plans and work in BTS. This includes priorities for the budget, as well as decisions on program and project scope or direction.
DOT's Strategic Goals
(Safety, Mobility, Economic Growth, Human & Natural Environment and National Security)
The overarching purpose of BTS work is embodied in the strategic goals of the department. These five goals, and the performance goals derived from them, reflect the most important things that DOT aims to achieve. They focus programmatic efforts as well as budget priorities, and they convey to the public the value they get for their tax dollar. By concentrating on outcomes, they help assure that what we achieve as an organization will be worthwhile.
The need to measure performance against outcome-oriented goals presents some special problems:
- By definition, outcomes are beyond our direct control. This means that many external factors may influence the results, so we need to be especially careful in interpreting the data.
- There is often high variability in the results we seek to measure. In fact, often the noise in the data may exceed the signal that we are looking for.
- With outcomes, much of the data are from external sources. This gives us less control over the data, generally.
- Many of the more important outcomes cut across program and even modal boundaries. This further complicates the interpretation of results, and sometimes means there is no existing data owner.
- Many of the measures reflect outcomes by calendar year, while budgets and reporting deadlines are based on the fiscal year. This imposes a three month loss in time to prepare performance reports, and makes association with the budget more difficult.
The challenge for BTS in this context is to help develop data and analyses that are relevant, high quality, timely, comparable, complete, and accessible. Clearly the six BTS strategic goal areas should frame our contribution to the broader DOT goals. And within this framework, there are also several important and specific concerns that BTS must help address over the next several years:
Data Needs for Safety
- An ability to make comprehensive comparisons of fatality, injury, and accident rates across modes, with comparable scope and denominators.
- Uniformity in the quality of accident reporting.
- Common data on accident circumstances across modes.
- Better measures of accident precursors, and more data on near-misses and violations.
- More timely data for program intervention.
- Better use of technology for collecting data, and better methods for analyzing safety data.
- Integration of data basesto connect a variety of related records, achieve data synergy, and provide one-stop shopping for program managers and researchers.
Data Needs for Mobility
- A means of measuring user transportation cost, time, and reliability with time series data.
- Better approaches for measuring access.
- A straightforward measure of congestion and its costs.
- A more complete understanding of variables influencing travel behavior.
- More timely and comprehensive data on the condition and use of the transportation system.
Data Needs for Economic Growth
- A means of measuring transportation cost, time, and reliability at an aggregate level with time series data.
- A comprehensive measure of the transportation capital stock.
- A better view of changes in the transportation workforce.
- Better measures of productivity in the transportation sector.
- A better picture of transportation-related variables that influence global competitiveness.
Data Needs for Human and Natural Environment
- Comparable and complete data on transportation emissions, noise, hazardous materials releases, and wetlands impacts.
- A better understanding of collateral damage to the human and natural environment.
- Better leading indicators for potential environmental issues.
Data Needs for National Security
- Better and more complete exposure data for drug and migrant interdiction programs.
- Data on the extent of the threats to electronic security for transportation systems.
- Better data on the vulnerability of the transportation system to intentional acts of disruption or destruction.