On November 30, 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law the Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act of 2004, Public Law 108-426. The legislation created two separate new administrations, the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). It dissolved the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA). By realigning existing USDOT entities, RITA now brings together important research, technology, and data collection assets.
Specifically, the Mineta Act mandate given to RITA by Congress is to "carry out powers and duties prescribed by the Secretary for—
(A) coordination, facilitation, and review of the Department's research and development programs and activities;
(B) advancement, and research and development, of innovative technologies, including intelligent transportation systems;
(C) comprehensive transportation statistics research, analysis and reporting;
(D) education and training in transportation and transportation-related fields; and
(E) activities of the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center..."
On August 10, 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). SAFETEA-LU authorizes the Federal surface transportation programs for highways, highway safety, and transit for the 5-year period 2005-2009. SAFETEA-LU authorized Title V programs including Surface Transportation Research, Training and Education, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), University Transportation Research, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Research, ITS Deployment, and other research and technology programs. With the passage of SAFETEA-LU, RITA was positioned to lead in achieving effective strategic planning, providing relevant data and analysis, coordinating cross-modal RD&T programs, and facilitating the deployment of transportation technologies.
Other legislation also impacts the agency’s resources and strategic direction, such as the Federal Aviation Administration’s reauthorization specific to RITA’s airline data program, as well as the Energy Bill, which formally established the Department’s Office of Climate Change and the Environment.