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Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 1 Introduction

RD&T is a basic Federal responsibility when it is of national significance, when there is a clear public benefit and private sector investment is less than optimal, when it supports a stewardship role in assuring efficient use of Federal resources, and when it presents the best means to support national policy goals.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) provides global leadership to ensure a safe, secure, efficient, and interconnected transportation system for the American public. To this end, the mission of the Department 's Research, Development and Technology (RD&T) program is to foster innovations leading to effective, integrated, and intermodal transportation solutions. DOT 's RD&T investments leverage those of research partners to stimulate innovations through targeted research, development, and technology implementation activities. As stated in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), these activities are a basic Federal responsibility when they are of national significance, when there is a clear public benefit and private sector investment is less than optimal, when they support a stewardship role in assuring the efficient use of Federal resources, and when they present the best means to support national policy goals.

Purpose and Scope

This DOT Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan 2006-2010 presents the Department's strategy for RD&T over the next five years and beyond. It supports the broader DOT Strategic Plan and mirrors that plan's structure, and responds to requirements in SAFETEA-LU for a five-year strategic plan to guide transportation research activities. The plan describes the strategic and organizational  goals that are the primary purposes for Departmental RD&T; the RD&T strategies the Department will pursue to achieve these goals; and, for each RD&T strategy, the anticipated funding levels and information the Department expects to gain. Importantly, the plan also identifies the emerging research priorities that the Department intends to pursue over the next several years. The plan incorporates the RD &T programs of all DOT operating administrations and considers how research by other Federal agencies, State DOTs, the private sector, and others contributes to DOT goals and how unnecessary duplication is avoided.

Plan Development

This Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan was developed as part of an ongoing process that incorporates multiyear strategic planning, annual program planning, and budget and performance planning across the Department, as well as the unique mission requirements of DOT's operating administrations.

Internal Coordination

Within the Department, two internal bodies lead the RD&T planning process:

RD&T Planning Council. The RD&T Planning Council ensures crossmodal collaboration and coordination of RD&T at the highest levels within DOT and with external entities. The Council is chaired by the Administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) and comprises the heads of the operating administrations, the Under Secretary for Policy, and other senior DOT leaders.  

RD&T Planning Team. The RD&T Planning Team assists the RD&T Planning Council in ensuring crossmodal collaboration and coordination of RD&T. It is chaired by RITA's Associate Administrator for Research, Development, and Technology and includes the Associate Administrators for RD&T in the operating administrations.

To support the development of the Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan, the RD&T Planning Council has identified a set of RD&T strategies and emerging research priorities that will advance DOT goals and guide RD&T investments over the next five years and beyond. As described in Chapter 2, these RD&T strategies and research priorities provide the framework for this plan and for RD&T across the Department.

Stakeholder Input

As required by SAFETEA-LU, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Research Council (NRC) has reviewed this Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan and provided a letter report with its recommendations. The NRC letter report and the Department's response are in Appendix A.

This plan also incorporates both primary and secondary input from a broad range of Departmental stakeholders, including State and local transportation agencies, not-for-profit institutions, academia, and the private sector.

Primary outreach occurred through the posting of a working draft of the Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan on the Department's Docket Management System at http://dms.dot.gov. At this site, stakeholders were able to access the draft and submit comments. A summary of the comments received by the required date (August 9, 2006) is in Appendix B.

To obtain further stakeholder input, the Department published a Federal Register Notice on July 12, 2006; announced the availability of the draft plan through RITA 's website (with a link to the Department's Docket Management System); and disseminated a notice of availability for comment on July 11 through TRB's E-Newsletter, thereby targeting approximately 20,000 stakeholders with the highest interest in RD&T. Finally, the Department presented briefings on the plan to targeted stakeholders, such as the Federal Highway Administration 's Research and Technology Coordinating Committee (June 15); the Research Advisory Committee of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (July 11); and the Council of University Transportation Centers (June 22).

The preponderance of RD&T is conducted by the Department's operating administrations for modal-specific purposes. At the modal level, research advisory committees, public meetings, and forums ensure that RD&T programs are validated through external stakeholder review and participation. This Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan reflects this secondary stakeholder input, primarily by incorporating the RD&T plans of the operating administrations, each of which has been developed with broad stakeholder comment and review.

Contents

The remaining chapters of this Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan cover the following:

Chapter 2. Strategic planning framework for the Department's RD&T programs.

Chapters 3 through 8. RD&T strategies, research areas, programs, and milestones that support the Department's strategic goals.

Chapter 9. RD&T partnerships.

Chapter 10. Evaluation and assessment of RD&T.

Appendix A. NRC letter report and DOT response.

Appendix B. Stakeholder input.

Appendix C. RD&T funding.

Appendix D. Links to operating administration RD&T advisory committees and plans.