The Department’s RD&T program emphasizes partnership, coordination, and information sharing—both across the Federal Government and with universities, State and local governments, industry, and other organizations. This approach helps the Department to leverage scarce RD&T resources, prevent unnecessary duplication, and broaden the range of expertise brought to bear on transportation problems.
As the agency with the most direct responsibility for transportation, DOT leads transportation RD&T in the Federal Government. To further this role, the Department works closely with other agencies to avoid duplication and to leverage research investments.
The Department coordinates Federal RD&T through the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). Chaired by the President, the NSTC is a Cabinet-level council that coordinates science and technology policies across the Government. In addition, the Department’s operating administrations coordinate with particular agencies in specific research areas of mutual interest. Among the agencies with which the Department actively collaborates are the following:
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducts research to ensure that Americans have reliable, adequate supplies of high-quality food and other agricultural products. Of particular interest to transportation is USDA research in a number of fields related to advancing the use of agricultural waste and feedstocks for bio-based and renewable fuels. USDA currently coordinates the Federal interagency Biomass R&D Board, established by the Biomass Research & Development Act of 2000. Joint efforts with DOT include:
With a mission of promoting economic growth by developing and applying technology, measurements, and standards, the National Institute of Standards and
NSTC Subcommittee on Biometrics
Biometrics is a technology that is rapidly becoming a useful security, cost-saving, and convenience tool for the Federal Government. Although the Government is using the technology for many applications, further development and assessment are needed to improve the technology’s utility. To address these issues, the NSTC has established the Subcommittee on Biometrics, a joint subcommittee of the NSTC Committee on Technology and the Committee on Homeland and National Security. The subcommittee’s purpose is to:
In addition to DOT, membership on the subcommittee includes the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, State, and Treasury; the National Science Foundation; the Social Security Administration; the Government Printing Office; and the intelligence community. The subcommittee is currently developing and implementing a number of interagency coordination plans, including those for research and development in fingerprint, face, and iris recognition; biometrics test and evaluation; system considerations such as human-system interface issues; and program management.
Technology (NIST) conducts much of the transportation-related RD&T in the Department of Commerce (DOC). NIST research on materials is particularly important. Another DOC agency that performs research of relevance to transportation is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Current DOC collaboration with DOT includes:
The Department of Defense (DOD) accounts for a large proportion of all Federal RD&T. In the area of transportation, DOD seeks advances in aviation and space technologies; surface vehicles; ship design and propulsion; satellite positioning and communications; chemical, biological, and explosive agent detection; and highperformance materials. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, in particular, provides substantial funding for research on maritime and other transportation technologies. DOD also conducts research in such areas as human performance, materials science, microelectronics, and nanotechnology. Examples of collaborative work with DOT include:
Primarily concerned with energy conservation and reducing petroleum dependence, the Department of Energy (DOE) conducts research in alternative fuels, propulsion systems, and related technologies. DOE also has more than 20 major laboratories and research facilities—many with strong capabilities in advanced materials, energy conversion and storage, and other transportation-relevant areas. DOE research of interest to DOT includes the following:
Established by the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prevents, protects against, and responds to acts of terrorism on U.S. soil. Two DHS agencies are former DOT operating administrations: the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the U.S. Coast Guard. TSA protects the Nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. The missions of the Coast Guard are homeland security, maritime law enforcement, marine safety, and marine environmental protection. DHS collaboration with DOT includes:
The Department of the Interior (DOI) protects and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage and provides scientific and other information about those resources. Within DOI, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) oversees the Nation's natural gas, oil, and other mineral resources on the Outer Continental Shelf. MMS has two major programs: Offshore Minerals Management and Minerals Revenue Management. The offshore activity is supported by a Technology Assessment and Research Program that conducts research associated with operational safety, pollution prevention, and oil spill response and cleanup capabilities. Current collaborative work with DOT includes:
Within the Department of State (DOS), the Facility Security Division has responsibility for ensuring the security of DOS facilities worldwide. FHWA’s Office of Safety Research and Development, located at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia, has assisted DOS with providing security from explosive-laden vehicles at pedestrian entrances and facility perimeters. Work includes:
Transportation research in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) primarily involves emissions abatement, control, and compliance, and programs on air and water quality. Particular work of interest to DOT includes:
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a distinguished background in aeronautical and space transportation research. Although topics such as propulsion, aerodynamics, and control systems have predominated, NASA is now also addressing aviation safety and air traffic management. NASA and FAA are full research partners, and NASA also works with other DOT administrations in areas of mutual interest. Among NASA’s collaborative efforts with DOT are:
Joint Planning and Development Office
In 2003, FAA, NASA, and other agencies joined to form the JPDO, charged with developing a National Planfor the Transformation of Air Transportation. The plan’s purpose is threefold: establish a vision for future airtransportation, set national aerospace goals, and ensure that the United States remains at the forefront ofaviation. The JPDO will coordinate the development and use of new technologies to ensure that, when avail-able, they may be used to their fullest potential in aircraft and the air traffic control system. It also will facilitate the transfer of technology to the private sector and to Federal agencies with operationalresponsibilities.
The JPDO plan will lay the groundwork for a system that meets the needs of all users and that is efficient inthe application of aerospace resources. This Next Generation Air Transportation System will provide thecapacity and flexibility to support future demands while ensuring the safety of the flying public. It will be partof an integrated national and global transportation system, one that simultaneously satisfies the Nation’seconomic, defense, and homeland security needs.
An independent Federal agency, the National Science Foundation (NSF) strengthens U.S. science and engineering through education and research. NSF accomplishes this mission through an annual investment in approximately 20,000 research and education projects. Of particular relevance to DOT are:
• NSF’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers, which conduct a range of research on material properties, synthesis, structure, and performance.
• A DOT–NSF Partnership for Research in Information and Communications Systems for Surface Transportation.
• Research with FHWA and State DOTs on the long-term durability of materials and structures.
• Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis, a program that provides start-up funding for promising, but unproven, innovations in surface transportation.
In addition to coordinating RD&T with other Federal research agencies, the Department actively pursues research and technology partnerships with the Nation’s leading academic institutions. The following are DOT’s major university programs:
MARAD and the U.S. Transportation Command provide coordinated support to the Center for the Commercial Deployment of Transportation Technologies (CCDOTT), a chartered university center at California State University in Long Beach. The center is congressionally sponsored, with funding provided from DOD.
The CCDOTT functions as a partnership of academic institutions, government agencies, and private companies. It has three purposes: leverage advanced transportation technologies—including emerging high-speed ship systems, decisionsupport tools, tagging and tracking, and agile port and terminal systems—to solve defense and commercial infrastructure problems; sponsor applied research in support of defense and commercial infrastructure initiatives; and provide a bilateral technology transfer/dual-use bridge between DOD and industry. The center has completed a series of studies to date, and is now implementing these efforts as well as pursuing further research.
Centers of Excellence (COEs) are unique consortia of Federal, university, and industry researchers working to improve aviation through shared resources, leveraged funding, and pooled talent. Following an extensive selection process, university core members enter into cooperative agreements with FAA. Subsequently, research scientists are funded through matching grants and cost-share contracts. COE members are required to provide matching funds from non-Federal sources, solidifying their partnership with FAA and enabling the centers to strive to be an independent national resource. Through these partnerships between government, academia, and industry, all parties maximize and strengthen their technological capabilities.
The current COEs are Airliner Cabin Environment, Joint Center for Advanced Materials Research, Aircraft Noise and Aviation Emissions Mitigation, General Aviation, Airworthiness Assurance, Operations Research, and Airport Technology.
This FRA program awards competitive research grants to universities for work on challenging priority areas identified in the FRA Strategic Plan. Efforts are supported using discretionary funds or in accordance with congressional mandates. When the work progresses to the prototype stage, cooperating railroads or FRA technical support contractors provide field testing support as necessary. Current studies include work at Marshall University and the University of Nebraska on human factors, infrastructure durability, and a high-precision differential global positioning system (GPS), and research at Ohio University on the development of high-performance nationwide differential GPS services and related user equipment.
Located at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, New York, the Global Maritime and Transportation School (GMATS) is designated as a National Maritime Enhancement Institute, recognizing its expertise, capabilities, and industry affiliations contributing to the advancement of safe, secure, economically viable, and environmentally sensible marine and intermodal transportation systems.
The GMATS Division of Research and Special Projects conducts applied research in a number of areas, including maritime security; modal and intermodal freight systems; marine and intermodal terminal operations; maritime training and education; industry leadership and business ethics; port and waterway design and traffic management; maritime business and economics; communication and information systems; shipboard operations; and marine engineering, shipbuilding, and naval architecture.
Jointly sponsored by FAA and NASA, the Joint University Program seeks to materially improve the efficiency, performance, and safety of air transportation in the United States by identifying promising targets for development, by conducting associated long-term research, and by educating technological leaders.
Through the program, leading academic researchers and their students are involved in solving critical aeronautical problems, particularly those related to aircraft guidance, navigation, and control; meteorological hazards; and human factors. The program currently provides research grants to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ohio University, and Princeton University.
The USMMA is one of five Federal service academies. Its four-year program provides the broad college education required for a Bachelor of Science degree, with the specialized training for licensing as a merchant marine officer and the military knowledge for commissioning in a reserve component of the Armed Forces. USMMA laboratories and research contribute to maritime innovation and to building a talented and skilled maritime workforce.
To inform the public about the maritime industry and potential educational and career opportunities, MARAD has established a Maritime Careers Program with the maritime academies, maritime training institutions, and shipbuilding organizations. The program seeks to ensure that the maritime workforce is prepared to contribute effectively to the evolving maritime environment.
Located at the USMMA, the Renewable Energy Transportation Laboratory acts as a test bed for a full range of alternative energy technologies. It facilitates advancements in renewable technologies, gives students a hands-on aspect to their studies, and promotes interest in the application of alternative energy systems.
Currently receiving financial and technical support from the Long Island Power Authority and from Plug Power (in Latham, New York), the laboratory features integrated and fully operational wind, solar photovoltaic, and hydrogen fuel cell generators (which develop nonpolluting power for hydrogen production and the operation of two electric work carts); an “Electrathon” endurance race car; and a fuel-cell-powered boat.
The Department’s largest university research program, the University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program conducts basic and applied research to advance the body of knowledge in transportation; conducts education programs to expand the transportation workforce; and provides capacity building programs to transportation professionals.
The UTC Program is managed by RITA and funded by FHWA and FTA. The program has a multimodal focus and is supportive of the Department’s strategic goals. SAFETEA-LU authorized the most significant expansion of the UTC Program to date, increasing the annual funding for UTCs and the number of UTCs to 60 from the 33 established in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. With this expansion comes new opportunities for the program to make an even greater contribution to transportation research, education, and technology transfer.
In 2006, DOT will competitively select 20 UTCs and fund an additional 40 named in SAFETEA-LU. Each UTC will have a specific transportation theme that advances one or more of the Department’s strategic goals. SAFETEA-LU requires that the UTCs support the national surface transportation research agenda described in the April 2002 Report of the National Highway Research and Technology Partnership, Highway Research and Technology: The Need for Greater Investment; the FTA National Research and Technology Program described in the September 2005 FTA Strategic Research Plan; and other documents specified by RITA, which currently include the DOT Strategic Plan, Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan, and National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America’s Transportation Network.
SAFETEA-LU University Transportation Centers
Regional UTCs (FY 05-06)
Regional UTCs (FY 07-09)
Tier I UTCs (FY 05-06)
Tier I UTCs (FY 07-09)
Tier II UTCs (FY 06-09)
National UTCs (FY 05-09)
Title III UTCs (FY 06-09)
*These three universities are to receive two grants.
**SAFETEA-LU limits Arkansas to receiving only one of its two authorized grants in FY 06.
***Authorized to receive funds only in FY 06-07.
By statute, each UTC must develop a strategic plan that describes how it will meet the program’s legislative intent. UTCs must also report annually on the progress made in achieving identified strategic goals using specified measurable performance indicators. The Department will document the extent to which each UTC is meeting legislative requirements, undertaking research directly supporting DOT goals and the Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan, and making measurable progress toward achieving its strategic goals.
To date, the UTCs have been perceived to be an underutilized resource for the conduct of the Department’s RD&T program. To rectify this, RITA will provide proactive, periodic feedback to the UTCs on DOT goals, objectives, and priorities; ensure DOT participation in UTCs’ research-selection processes; and facilitate a closer working relationship between the UTCs and DOT program offices. RITA will also sponsor regular workshops to showcase UTC research and produce an annual report describing UTC accomplishments.
The Department engages in cooperative and joint research with stakeholders across the transportation enterprise, including State and local agencies, industry, and not-for-profit institutions. Among these joint activities, the Department’s primary cooperative programs and partnerships are:
Mandated by Congress in the Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, the Airport Cooperative Research Program carries out applied research on problems that are shared by airport operating agencies and that are not being adequately addressed by existing Federal research programs. An independent governing board of airport managers and others appointed by the Secretary of Transportation selects the research projects. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) administers the program.
The Cargo Handling Cooperative Program (CHCP) is a public–private partnership established in 1983 to increase the productivity of marine freight transportation by fostering cargo-handling RD&T among intermodal freight entities. The program’s focus is on industry-driven technology priorities and a system-level approach to freight transportation. CHCP participants pursue innovations that will increase the productivity and cost-effectiveness of cargo operations.
The CHCP emphasizes integrated systems for freight movement through advances in infrastructure design, seamless international transportation networks, and communication and information flows. Initiatives are based on a system-level approach— from origin to destination—so that intermodal transfer points, port connections, and other subsystems all meet system requirements. Although the CHCP has not independently funded research for the past several years, its members have been able to use the program’s framework to obtain funding for selected projects, such as Chassis Tag Research and Security Container Seal Processes.
Managed by RITA, the Commercial Remote Sensing and Spatial Technologies Program will promote partnerships with consortia teams by bringing together resources and expertise from university research centers, industry, technology service providers for transportation systems, and State transportation agencies. The products from the program will address a variety of commercial applications to solve multimodal transportation challenges. These applications will involve the development of products and services that integrate advances in satellite and aerial high-resolution imageries; GPS, including navigation tools and services; and geographic information systems, including mapping and visualization tools.
This PHMSA program was established by SAFETEA-LU. Administered by the TRB, the program, once implemented, will provide grants for research on a number of safety and security issues, with possible topics including hazardous materials data and analysis, planning and preparing for hazardous materials emergencies, support for first responders, and hazardous materials commodity flow studies.
MARAD works with industry partners, researchers, and other agencies to test and evaluate the effectiveness of technologies with the potential to reduce marine environmental impacts. For example, MARAD is at the forefront of efforts to test and evaluate the effectiveness of emerging technologies and processes for ballast water treatment. MARAD and its partners are also evaluating hydrogen fuel cell technology, cold ironing, and auxiliary power operations in an effort to reduce shipboard emissions while in port, as well as technologies and procedures designed to reduce air emissions in environmentally critical areas.
The Marine Transportation System (MTS) is a Secretarial initiative to advance maritime interests in the United States. Seventeen different Federal agencies and all industry components are actively engaged in its development. Industry groups include entities involved with intermodal connections, cargo, and passenger movements, and other public and private stakeholders. The Interagency Committee of the MTS, the Federal team, and the MTS National Advisory Council, the industry team, each have formed Research and Technology and other subcommittees to assist with coordination and priority setting.
The MTS initiative has energized the intermodal industry, as well as Federal, State, and local transportation agencies, to coordinate and accelerate the application of advanced technologies to maritime transportation. Moreover, in support of the MTS, MARAD is coordinating efforts of the Committee for the Maritime Transportation System, the Marine Board, and industry partners to evaluate concepts for an improved MTS from a total transportation system perspective. The focus is on exploring maritime concepts that will reduce congestion, increase safety, and more efficiently move commerce systemwide. In particular, effective use of the MTS has the potential to reduce system congestion, since it has the capacity to handle the much higher freight volumes anticipated in the future.
MARAD participates in International Maritime Organization and International Labor Organization activities to support the development and implementation of standards that will improve the effectiveness of domestic and international transportation systems. The agency is actively involved in the implementation of standards for training certification, watchkeeping, and other maritime-related areas. Moreover, MARAD has been instrumental in developing standards for identity management (including mariner/transportation worker credentials and border management) and in interagency standards-setting efforts (for biometrics, freight security, and RFID). MARAD also currently holds the Secretariat position for the International Standards Organization subcommittee that sets standards for piping and machinery.
Established by SAFETEA-LU and managed by RITA, the National Cooperative Freight Transportation Research Program supports research on critical freight transportation issues. Among these are techniques for estimating and quantifying the public benefits of freight transportation projects; alternative approaches to calculating the contribution of truck and rail traffic to congestion; the feasibility of consolidating origins and destinations for freight movement; incorporating estimates of international trade into landside transportation planning; using technology to increase the capacity of truck-only highway lanes; and emerging and future freight transportation research needs in all modes. The National Research Council will administer the program, award contracts and grants through competition and merit review, and establish an advisory committee representing a cross-section of freight stakeholders. This committee will recommend a national research agenda for freight transportation that includes a multiyear strategic plan.
Established in 1962, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) addresses issues of interest to State DOTs. In most cases, projects are focused on problems of immediate national concern that can be solved through applied research. Results are intended to have an impact on practice through products such as specifications, user manuals, and guidelines. States voluntarily contribute 5.5 percent of State Planning and Research funds to support the program, which is administered by the TRB.
Projects in the NCHRP are solely the prerogative of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and its member departments. AASHTO’s Standing Committee on Research selects projects annually from a list of problem statements submitted by the departments, AASHTO committees, and FHWA. Each NCHRP project is assigned to a panel, appointed by the TRB, which is looked to for technical guidance and counsel. Heavy emphasis is placed on appointing members who represent potential users of the research results. Project findings are published and disseminated in the NCHRP report series.
MARAD’s Ship Operations Cooperative Program (SOCP) is a public-private partnership that promotes national security and economic growth through the identification, development, and application of new methods, procedures, and technologies for maritime vessel activities. The program’s objective is to improve the competitiveness, productivity, efficiency, safety, and environmental responsiveness of U.S. vessel operations. The SOCP currently has more than 40 member organizations that contribute funding, resources, and active project management.
An international cooperative program with 10 participating agencies, the Ship Structure Committee advances ship safety and structural integrity. This program, in which MARAD participates, enhances the safety of life at sea, promotes technology and educational advancements, and protects the marine environment through research on ship structural design, life-cycle risk management, and production technologies. Among the two dozen or so projects that are typically underway are efforts addressing the structural safety of high-speed ferries, structural problems on modern cruise ships, the use of aluminum in ship structures, structural fire protection, design guidelines for structural repairs, and the relationship of structural integrity to chemical treatment of ballast water.
This program is MARAD’s most recent industry-inspired partnership. Formed in October 2003, the program’s purpose is to share resources and in-kind services in the development of Short Sea Shipping in North America. (Short Sea Shipping is the water transportation of freight and passengers that does not cross an ocean.) Both MARAD and the 35 private-sector partners that formed the program believe that increased awareness and application of Short Sea Shipping can decrease traffic congestion, improve safety, and benefit the environment. One of the program’s first goals is to conduct outreach to future users of a North American Short Sea Shipping System.
Through the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), FTA funds research on issues significant to the transit industry. Research is directed to near-term, local problem solving in transit planning, service concepts, vehicles and equipment, facilities, operations, human resources, maintenance, and administrative practices. More than 260 products of TCRP research have been delivered to the public transportation community. The TRB, which administers the program, maintains a publications list and a description of all TCRP studies on its website at http://www4.trb.org/trb/crp.nsf/TCRP+projects.
When there is significant or widespread interest in solving a transportation-related problem, several Federal, State, regional, or local transportation agencies, academic institutions, foundations, or private firms may jointly fund research, planning, or technology transfer activities as a pooled-fund study. To qualify, more than one agency, academic institution, or private company must find the subject important enough to commit funds or other resources. If a subject has been studied previously, the new effort should provide additional information that will complement or advance previous investigations.
A State DOT or FHWA must sponsor each pooled-fund study. Participation by foreign governments, local agencies, private companies, foundations, and academic institutions is at the discretion of the lead State. FHWA provides financial management of the program. In 2005, the program included 113 State-led studies and 63 FHWA-led projects with a total value of approximately $128 million. Details on individual pooled-fund studies are available at http://www.pooledfund.org/.