Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles

How We'll Manage Our Work

Each decision we make, and each strategy we conceive, must meet certain basic tests for how we want to manage. Each of these guiding principles is necessary to ensure the long term health and survival of BTS:


  1. We must meet every congressional mandate. This provides the basis for the very existence of BTS, and reflects what the public expects of us.
  2. We must stay within the scope of our mandate. We do not formulate policy options; we support those who do. We must remain objective and unbiased in our data and information.


  1. We must focus first and foremost on safety data. Safety is the single most important strategic goal for the department, and good data are critical to managing safety programs. Where we approach new initiatives in an incremental way, safety should be our first thought for beginning or demonstrating the concept.
  2. We must cover all of transportationidentifying and filling in gaps in our collective understanding of the transportation system. And we must approach every problem through the lens of ONE DOT. BTS itself is a manifestation of this concept, and of the need for a broad view across transportation.
  3. We must stay abreast of developments in all of transportation and in those elements of statistics and information technology that are germane to the functioning of a statistical agency.


  1. We must be customer service oriented responsive to their needs, and interested in their feedback. Any other approach will put us out of touch, and we will lose relevance.
  2. We must work with data providers with mutual respect, including appropriate protections of confidentiality and concern for the burden of data collection. Without this respect, we will not have access to good quality data.
  3. We must work cooperatively with all collectors and users of transportation data in the private and public sectors in order to enhance understanding of the entire system without danger of duplicating effort. The burden of reaching out rests with BTS.
  4. We must continually nourish and sustain our staffour key asset. Their intellectual capital is critical to our capabilities, and their personal and professional development are important long term investments to be measured on a performance basis. If we ignore this, we cannot maintain our performance, or retain the respect of our peers.


  1. We must continually search for more efficient ways to do our work to automate, streamline or discontinue processes where possible, and design low maintenance systems. The taxpayer expects us to spend every dollar wisely, and every efficiency permits greater opportunity for increasing our effectiveness.
  2. We must move quickly and take risks. We operate in a high technology environment, and a complex policy environment. We will quickly lose relevance if we cannot keep pace.
  3. We must always do our work with grace and humilityvirtues unto themselves. We must also acknowledge that many of the best ideas are outside BTS and rely on others to help us achieve our mission.