RITA now brings together critically important research,
technology, and data collection assets of the U.S. DOT including:
- Research, Development and Technology
RITA coordinates the USDOT’s roughly $1 billion research portfolio through the Research
Planning, Investment, and Coordination (RPIC) process—a systematic approach to selecting,
coordinating and evaluating research, development, and technology investments. An
adaptation of the Capital Planning and Investment Control processes developed in response to
the Clinger-Cohen Act, the RPIC processes are iterative with inputs coming from across DOT
and feeding into the budget lifecycle.
RPIC’s benefits include greater collaboration between Operating Administrations and the
ability to achieve DOT’s RD&T strategic objectives; clearer alignment between RD&T
initiatives with strategic objectives; a forum for measuring and tracking performance and net
benefits for dollars invested; a framework for assessing tradeoffs between potential research
benefits, costs, and risks; and a protocol for setting RD&T priorities and making appropriate
RD&T resource shifts based on priorities at an enterprise level. RPIC works to ensure that
greater RD&T budget transparency is achieved across DOT.
Through an unprecedented focus on RD&T planning and coordination, fosters collaboration
in research activities within DOT, across the Federal Government, and with partners in State
and local transportation agencies, not-for-profit institutions, academia, and industry, including
coordination of activities of the Department’s Research Investment Board.
Serves the Department and the broader transportation community by pushing the outer
limits of multimodal transportation technology and working collaboratively across USDOT’s
operating administrations and Secretarial offices to advance cutting-edge technologies,
including: nanotechnology, advanced materials, remote sensing for crossmodal infrastructure
evaluation, and advanced energy conservation technologies.
- University Transportation Centers
Directs and provides Federal oversight of the University Transportation Centers (UTC)
Program, ensuring greater alignment with national transportation objectives and goals.
The UTC Program invests in university-based centers of excellence to advance innovation,
research, education, and technology transfer. The program is managed by RITA and funded
by the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration. The focus of the
UTC program is multimodal and supportive of the USDOT’s strategic objectives. The Safe,
Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005 (SAFETEA-LU) authorized
the most significant expansion of the UTC program to date, increasing the annual funding
for the program and the number of UTCs from the 33 established in Transportation Equity
Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) to 60. With the expansion of the UTC program comes
new opportunities for it to make an even greater contribution to transportation research,
education, and technology transfer.
- The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
An innovative, fee-for-service organization, the Volpe Center, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is
an internationally recognized Federal center of transportation logistics and expertise. Through
rapid response and critical long-term analytical, scientific, and engineering support to the
USDOT and others, this systems center helps decisionmakers define problems and pursue
solutions that will lead transportation into the 21st century. The Center applies its unique
multidisciplinary, multimodal, technical capabilities to promote and enable technological and
process innovation in response to and in the achievement of U.S. transportation goals and
The Volpe Center plays a unique role in looking across the transportation enterprise to
anticipate future transportation issues and challenges so as to better prepare and inform
Departmental and other transportation decisionmakers. Funded through work agreements
with multiple USDOT and non-DOT agencies, the Volpe Center supports multiple USDOT’s
modal administrations and offices, other Federal agencies, State and local governments and
organizations, foreign governments and entities, and the private sector.
- The Transportation Safety Institute (TSI)
The Transportation Safety Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is the Nation’s leading
provider of transportation safety training. The TSI educates more than 50,000 professionals
each year in state-of-the-art safety methods and technologies.
The TSI assists DOT modal administrations in accomplishing their mission-essential training
requirements. Since its inception, TSI has expanded its clientele to keep up with the needs of
the Department and transportation industry. The Institute offers premier transit, aviation,
motor carrier, traffic safety, hazardous material, and risk management training nationally and
The TSI supports several key strategies in USDOT’s Strategic Plan. It sponsors and participates
in conferences, seminars, and meetings at which transportation consumers and providers
can share advances in safety technology, regulation, and procedures. The TSI uses DOT web
sites to communicate information on best safety practices, educational materials, consumer
information, and other materials relating to safety. The TSI also improves safety in all
modes through outreach, education, collaboration with public and industry safety partners,
demonstration programs, consumer information, and strategic media usage. Through training
transportation industry safety professionals in accident investigation and prevention, TSI
accomplishes these strategies and supports the Department’s safety objectives. At the same
time, TSI provides subject matter expertise to decisionmakers and the public in transportation
- The Bureau
of Transportation Statistics (BTS)
The BTS will continue to focus on three key areas, each mandated by legislation: compiling,
analyzing, and publishing a comprehensive set of transportation statistics; making statistics
readily accessible; and implementing a long-term data collection program. A leading source
of multimodal transportation data for the Federal, State, and local governments; metropolitan
U.S. Department of Transportation
Research and Innovative Technology Administration
planning organizations; transportation-related associations; the private sector (including the
freight community); and the public, BTS is working to strengthen its role as a primary source
of aviation and multimodal freight data. BTS will place heightened emphasis on the provision
of safety and system performance data.
As one of the Federal statistical agencies, BTS maintains a special degree of objectivity and
independence. BTS products include reports to Congress and the Secretary of Transportation
along with stakeholders in the transportation community. BTS efforts focus on getting
and helping to interpret data objectively that can be used to better inform decisionmaking,
regardless of what the data show. BTS will continue to focus on providing transportation data
and analyses for policymakers in areas such as transportation economics, airline, freight and
- The Intelligent
Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO)
RITA’s ITS JPO focuses on intelligent vehicles, intelligent infrastructure, and the creation of an
intelligent transportation system through integration with and between these two components.
The Federal ITS Program supports the overall advancement of ITS through investments in
major initiatives, exploratory studies and a deployment support program. Increasingly, the
Federal investments are directed at targets of opportunity—major initiatives—that have the
potential for significant payoff in improving safety, mobility, and productivity.
The ITS JPO performs collaborative research and encourages deployment of advanced
communications-based information and electronics technologies. When integrated into
vehicles and the transportation infrastructure, ITS technologies have significant potential to
relieve congestion, improve safety, and enhance system performance and productivity.
The ITS program carries out its goals through research and development, operational testing,
technology transfer, training and technical guidance in the areas of intelligent vehicles,
advanced traffic and transit management, commercial vehicle operations, public safety,
traveler information, and intermodal freight.
Moving forward, RITA will complete the transfer of the ITS JPO to RITA, providing necessary
administrative funding and staff.
- Positioning, Navigation,
RITA’s PNT and spectrum management responsibilities provide a unified, robust, and effective
approach to the Department’s responsibilities in this dynamic and critical infrastructure
technology field that is revolutionizing not only our transportation infrastructure, but
countless other commercial, scientific, and homeland security applications in the United States
and around the world.
Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) services are critical to the transportation
infrastructure and involve cross-cutting technology that supports multimodal applications.
U.S. Space-Based PNT Policy states that the United States must continue to improve and
maintain GPS, augmentation systems, and back-up capabilities to meet growing national,
U.S. Department of Transportation
Research and Innovative Technology Administration
homeland, and economic security requirements, as well as those from the civil, commercial,
and scientific communities. This supports DOT safety, mobility, security, and global
The President authorized a new national policy on December 8, 2004, that establishes
guidance and implementation actions for space-based positioning, navigation, and timing
programs. The policy recognizes that "over the past decade the Global Positioning System
(GPS) has grown into a global utility whose multiuse services are integral to U.S. national
security, economic growth, transportation safety, and homeland security, and are an essential
element of the worldwide economic infrastructure."
This National Space Policy Directive identifies DOT as the focal point for civil GPS
representation. It also established a National Space-Based PNT Executive Committee
co-chaired by the Deputy Secretaries of the Department of Defense and Department of