Department of Transportation RD&T Mission
Foster innovations leading to effective, integrated, and intermodal transportation solutions.
The Department of Transportations (DOT) Research, Development and Technology (RD&T) programs foster innovations leading to effective, integrated, and intermodal transportation solutions. This Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan 20062010 responds to requirements in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users for a five-year plan to guide transportation RD&T activities. It describes the strategic goals that are the primary purposes for RD&T and the RD&T strategies and emerging research priorities required to accomplish these goals.
For each RD&T strategy, the plan identifies anticipated funding levels and information the Department expects to gain. 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, academic institutions, and others contributes to Departmental goals and how unnecessary duplication is avoided. The National Research Council's (NRC) Transportation Research Board has reviewed the plan.
The Department, with leadership from the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), developed this Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Planthrough an ongoing coordination process involving all DOT operating administrations. Two crossmodal bodies lead this process: the RD &T Planning Council, composed of the heads of the operating administrations, the Under Secretary for Policy, and other senior DOT leaders; and the RD &T Planning Team, including the operating administrations Associate Administrators for RD&T. The result is crossmodal planning and collaboration of RD&T at the highest levels of the Department.
DOT Strategic Goals
Working across the Department, the RD&T Planning Council and RD&T Planning Team have identified the RD&T strategies and emerging research priorities that will guide RD&T investments over the next five years and advance the Department’s strategic and organizational goals: safety; reduced congestion; global connectivity; environmental stewardship; security, preparedness and response; and organizational excellence.
Enhance public health and safety by working toward the elimination of transportation-related deaths and injuries.
Reduce congestion and other impediments to using the Nation’s transportation system.
Facilitate an international transportation system that promotes economic growth and development.
Promote transportation solutions that enhance communities and protect the natural and built environment.
Balance transportation security requirements with the safety, mobility, and economic needs of the Nation and be prepared to respond to emergencies that affect the viability of the transportation sector.
Advance the Department’s ability to manage for results and achieve the goals of the President’s Management Agenda.
The relationship among the Department’s goals, RD&T strategies, and emerging research priorities is shown in Table E-1.
Over the next five years, the RD&T programs in the Department’s operating administrations will advance DOT goals, RD&T strategies, and emerging research priorities while supporting modal priorities and mission requirements. The following DOT offices and administrations have missions that include supporting RD&T:
To achieve the Department’s highest priority strategic goal, DOT’s operating administrations will work with stakeholders to develop, make available, and enforce the technologies and techniques necessary to identify and resolve safety issues. Table E-2 lists DOT’s safety RD&T strategies, research areas the Department will focus on over the next five years, and the operating administrations with supporting RD&T programs.
Growing transportation congestion poses a substantial threat to the economy and to the quality of life of millions of Americans. The Department ’s RD&T programs will seek to reduce congestion and other transportation impediments, to preserve the existing transportation system, and to improve the durability and life of transportation infrastructure. Table E-3 lists DOT ’s congestion reduction RD&T strategies, research areas the Department will focus on over the next five years, and the operating administrations with supporting RD&T programs.
The Nation’s continued economic prosperity depends on a strong and interconnected global transportation system. Table E-4 lists DOT’s global connectivity RD&T strategy, research areas the Department will focus on over the next five years, and the operating administrations with supporting RD&T programs.
Transportation exerts pressure on environmental resources worldwide. The Department must balance environmental challenges with the need for a safe and efficient transportation network. Table E-5 lists DOT ’s environmental stewardship RD&T strategies, research areas the Department will focus on over the next five years, and the operating administrations with supporting RD&T programs.
There is a critical need to ensure the transportation system’s rapid response and recovery from disruptions due to attacks, natural disasters, and other major events; to protect the system against terrorism; and to ensure that it remains a vital link for defense mobilization. Table E-6 lists DOT ’s security RD&T strategies, research areas the Department will focus on over the next five years, and the operating administrations with supporting RD &T programs.
To advance the President’s Management Agenda, the Department seeks to consistently apply the R&D Investment Criteria of relevance, quality, and performance to all RD&T programs. Table E-7 lists DOT’s organizational excellence RD&T strategy and the operating administrations with supporting RD&T programs.
The Department’s RD&T programs emphasize 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.Table E-8 summarizes the Department ’s interagency, university, and cooperative RD&T activities.
DOT leads transportation RD&T in the Federal Government. At the Cabinet level, the Department coordinates transportation research through the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science and Technology Council. In addition, the Department’s operating administrations work directly with agencies in areas of mutual interest to avoid duplication and leverage research investments. Among the agencies with which the Department actively cooperates are the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Interior, and State; the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and the National Science Foundation.
In addition to coordinating research with other Federal agencies, the Department actively pursues partnerships with the Nation ’s academic institutions. The Department’s largest university program supports the University Transportation Centers, which conduct basic and applied research to advance the body of knowledge in transportation; conduct education programs to expand the transportation workforce; and provide capacity building programs to existing transportation professionals.
The Department also engages in cooperative research with State and local agencies, industry, not-for-profit institutions, and other key stakeholders. Major activities include the Airport Cooperative Research Program, the Hazardous Materials Transportation Cooperative Research Program, the National Cooperative Freight Transportation Research Program, and the Transit Cooperative Research Program, all of which the NRC administers; the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, administered by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; the Commercial Remote Sensing and Spatial Technologies Program; and the Marine Transportation System initiative.
To ensure the effectiveness of RD&T, the Department continually assesses its research programs using three primary mechanisms: (1) systematic application of the Administration’s R&D Investment Criteria and Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART); (2) internal annual reviews of operating administration RD&T programs; and (3) external RD&T coordination and review. Table E-9 summarizes the Department’s RD&T evaluation strategy.
To guide the planning and management of research across the Federal Government, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has established three broad investment criteria for RD&T: relevance, quality, and performance. These investment criteria incorporate established best practices for research evaluation as identified by the National Academy of Sciences, the Government Accountability Office, and others. One mechanism to assess how well agencies are implementing the criteria is the PART. On the basis of the PART, programs are rated as Effective, Moderately Effective, Adequate, Ineffective, or Results Not Demonstrated. To date, OMB has used the PART to assess RD&T programs in FAA, FHWA, FRA, NHTSA, and PHMSA and found each to be Moderately Effective or better. The PART results for FTA’s research program will be released in February 2007.
Within the Department, the primary mechanism for ensuring implementation of the R&D Investment Criteria and PART is the annual review of modal RD&T programs. Assisted by RITA, the RD&T Planning Team’s Program Review Working Group annually assesses how well each operating administration is applying the investment criteria, particularly whether RD&T programs are evaluated according to established best practices. RITA reports recommendations and conclusions to the RD&T Planning Council at the end of each year’s cycle of reviews. The Program Review Working Group assessed all operating administration RD&T programs in FY 2005 and again in FY 2006.
A key element of the Department’s RD&T evaluation strategy is regular consultation and engagement with stakeholders. Of particular importance is the conduct of regular external program evaluations through modal RD&T advisory committees, peer review, and broad stakeholder outreach. Such efforts avoid research duplication, uphold the technical quality of RD&T, and ensure that modal RD&T programs address critical national needs.
As the Department works to implement and improve this Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan it will consult with Congress, the private sector, the NRC, and other stakeholders to ensure that Departmental RD&T remains a wise public investment. When necessary, the Department will revise this plan to reflect changes in DOT and national priorities, operating administration mission requirements, and customer needs. In particular, over the next five years the Department will work with stakeholders to shift some RD&T investments toward support of its emerging research priorities. Each of these priorities addresses identified DOT goals, offers a significant potential return on investment, is an appropriate area for Federal research, and is not likely to be duplicated by other efforts. Moreover, these emerging research priorities will be critical elements in accomplishing the Department’s RD&T mission: to foster innovations leading to effective, integrated, and intermodal transportation solutions.