How We Will Achieve Our Goals
Our objectives are ambitious; our operating environment and data collection are very decentralized; and our resources are limited. So we must become more efficient. We must streamline our processes and make best use of information technology.
Moreover, since most transportation-related data are collected by others, we can accomplish our work only with the support of others. We can garner this support by establishing a more prominent role for BTSone of natural leadership. Such a role requires us to:
- Develop a reputation for excellence,
- Provide something of value to our partners, and
- Stimulate demand for our help.
Finally, in order to assess our efficacy, we must measure progress toward our objectives. These must be put into measurable terms and tracked, and then we need to intervene when we start to see problems.
Our strategies are aimed at helping to leverage resources, establish a leadership role, and manage for results. Collectively, these strategies will enable us carry out our mission and realize our vision:
To Build the Organization.
- Develop a staff of strong methodological experts in statistics, and functional experts in all key areas of transportation and information technology to serve as consultants, to improve the quality of transportation data and analysis, and to guide all BTS contract efforts. Recruit a chief statistician, and establish a position for a chief economist, to provide senior technical advice and research.
- Develop broad information technology (IT) expertise among all BTS staff, to help identify opportunities for leveraging technology in our work. Ensure that all professional staff have some knowledge of data base design and statistical tools.
- Examine the internal functioning of BTS through an organizational assessment. This would include assessing the work environment, generally, as it relates to the overall performance of BTS. Use the results of this evaluation to improve processes, then re-measure and repeat. Coordinate with other federal statistical agencies for potentially useful comparisons.
- Develop the learning environment, to enhance professional development opportunities for the BTS workforce. Consider individual accounts for professional development, as well as a tuition assistance program for off-duty education.
- Revise the awards program to base all performance awards on contributions to the goals of BTS. Evaluate the potential value of goal-sharing, whereby teams or the BTS organization collectively would share in an award based on measurable progress toward our strategic objectives.
To Build the Programs.
- Build our data collection around the Intermodal Transportation Data Base (ITDB), with web-based dissemination, online documentation, and links across data sets. By providing an inexpensive and accessible platform, ITDB could develop to replace many of the modal data bases that are used for analysis. Access and links to other data would expose gaps and inconsistencies, and help generate demand for documentation and comparable data, in particular. We should quickly demonstrate a prototype, then accelerate development and incremental deployment.
- Expand our statistical research and data evaluation to better inform the design of surveys, the development of links across data sets, and the exploration of transportation indicators.
- Develop a transportation statistics discipline that is recognized for its quality by federal, academic, and private sector statistical communities because we cannot do all analysis ourselves.
- Develop a transportation research program. Plan and budget 10-12 focused analyses each year, to help us understand the major issues in transportation, identify gaps and inconsistencies in the data, and provide a body of research that can be used to inform policy.
- Develop - and market - guidelines for good statistical practice. These guidelines should address the life cycle of our data (including collection, documentation, presentation, and interpretation) and the key attributes of our data as reflected in BTS six strategic goals. We should build on the work of other federal statistical agencies, to help streamline the process and establish credible standards. We should also add substantially to the body of knowledge, to help establish BTS credibility with other statistical agencies.
- Lead the DOT effort in compiling, organizing, and analyzing system performance data for the DOT Performance Report, and in measuring progress against the departments strategic goals and objectives.
- Develop a set of key indicators for transportation, and publish these monthly. Quickly develop indicators that provide interesting and useful information to DOTs senior leadership. Undertake longer term research to explore/develop broad indicators of mobility.
- Focus resources and plans on filling critical data gaps. Adapt our existing surveys and data collection systems where practical, or develop new data collection mechanisms.
- Introduce solutions or mechanisms for comparing data where inconsistencies are identified (through research, outreach, or ITDB development, in particular). This will often involve developing creative ideas to address longstanding differences in definitions or scope of data collection. Lead an international program that is focused on data comparability.
- Advance the National Transportation Library by broadly collecting together the analyses of other government agencies, universities, and consultants, and making their work easily accessible on-line.
- Advance our Geographic Information Systems to state-of-the-art. Increase the accuracy and resolution of the data; expand the scope of data collection to represent all transportation infrastructure of national interest and all DOT-funded projects; and make linkages with related data easy.
- Continually improve BTS products through user feedback.
To Build Relationships.
- Develop lines of communication and good, collaborative working relationships with other DOT officesincluding both operating programs and data programs. This will help us keep in touch with the major issues others are facing, and better understand their needs and constraints. Develop a Committee on Transportation Statistics (CTSTAT) and continue the Data Initiative Working Group (DIWG) as forums for communication and collaborative effort on major initiatives. Focus the CTSTAT initially on developing ITDB and consensus guidelines for good statistical practice.
- Expand our outreach efforts to develop stronger relationships with our stakeholdersespecially top policy and decision makersand the media, and to improve the flow of feedback from users. Seek their advice on concepts, methods, data, and products, and integrate their advice into products and processes. Develop cross-functional teams for outreach.
- Find better ways of measuring customer satisfaction with BTS products and services.
From this strategic plan, we will develop a workforce plan, a new IT plan, and an annual performance plan with detailed measures to gauge progress against the strategic objectives. We will also reexamine BTS organizational structure in the context of the strategic plan. And over the longer term, we must reexamine our authorizing legislation to assess whether any changes might help us better achieve our strategic goals.