Welcome to the Research and Innovative Technology Administration’s (RITA’s) Strategic Plan. It is designed to lay out a clear vision for how we operate over the next fi ve years in order to achieve our mission and ensure that research management and activities are directed toward achieving measurable improvements in saving lives, improving mobility, and ensuring the health and well being of our Nation’s transportation enterprise. This strategic plan describes RITA’s vision, mission, goals, and strategic objectives.
This plan is a management tool. Its strategic objectives will drive the tactics we will employ to manage our portfolio and achieve results. We will align and train our people with the critical knowledge, skills, and abilities they require in order to achieve the objectives we describe. Our budgets will be developed and executed in a manner consistent with achieving our organizational objectives. We will use the plan’s strategic objectives to define, automate, manage, and support processes. In short, our people, processes, programs, initiatives, and resources will be focused on achieving the strategic objectives we present here.
At the core of the plan is RITA’s statutory mandate under the Mineta Act to coordinate research programs throughout the Department to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. This mandate cannot be fully achieved without a fundamental change to the historic research culture of the Department. It requires the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to create an enterprise-wide strategic research focus with full transparency. Without such a change, we will continue to advance research agendas developed in modally focused silos. This can result in a less than desirable return on our precious research investment. Application of a rigorous and disciplined process to organize, select, and coordinate research activities across the Department is required to maximize investment and to ensure that taxpayer dollars are effectively directed to the Nation’s most pressing short- and long-term transportation challenges.
A focused, measured research program will help us ensure that the national transportation system can effectively, efficiently, and safely move people and goods across our Nation in a manner that will sustain and improve our quality of life and ensure our global economic competitiveness. If we fail to leverage our research, congestion will worsen, opportunities to improve road safety will not be maximized, our environment will suffer, and transportation’s impact on climate change will be exacerbated.
We must do better. Advances in technology, innovation, and research will enable us to make profound improvements in our system that will lead to substantial reductions in congestion, improvements in safety, energy independence, and a robust and efficient supply chain. Demonstrating technologies and innovation ensure moving these advances toward commercialization by improving partnerships with the public and private sector to transfer these technologies faster. Collaboration among the research community by leveraging technological advances in communication and media will significantly enhance our knowledge-sharing capability in some very exciting and nontraditional ways. Most importantly, collaboration will increase the velocity of advances and applications of new and exciting developments that can do everything from reducing life-cycle infrastructure costs to saving lives.
We cannot begin to achieve our goals without improving and increasing our understanding of system and safety performance. Without appropriate and timely metrics and measurements, we have no way to know how proposed programs, policies, and practices will impact—positively or negatively—our transportation system.
As part of a focused national research agenda, we also recognize that the Department must learn to reengineer its own administrative and regulatory processes in a manner that can speed much needed improvements into the field so we do not delay the implementation of lifesaving technologies and methods through excessive industrial age bureaucratic processes—simply because we have always done it that way. We intend to direct some portion of research to this long-standing issue so advanced safety and mobility technologies can be introduced to the public sooner.
Clearly, RITA intends to meet its statutory obligations and transform the Department’s transportation research enterprise over the next five years. This plan represents RITA’s guiding document as it moves forward in support of the Nation’s transportation goals.