RDT Funding Overview

RDT Funding Overview

The Department's RD&T program supports both national goals and the unique mission requirements of the following DOT research-performing offices and administrations:

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
  • Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST)
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
  • Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA)

This section of the RD&T Annual Funding Report presents an overview of the Department's RD&T budget for FY 2006 through FY 2008, including a breakdown by types of research, the level of earmarking, and support for DOT strategic goals.

Funding Summary

Table 1 and Figure 1 on the following page show actual and requested RD&T funding for FY 2006–2008. The total FY 2008 request is up approximately 1 percent from the actual level in 2006 and about 4 percent from 2007. Within the operating administrations, RD&T funding is down compared to FY 2006, with the exception of FHWA, NHTSA, and RITA. The largest percentage reductions are in PHMSA (44 percent); OST (39 percent); and FRA (38 percent). The greatest percentage increase is in RITA, due to a $5 million request to support operation and maintenance of the Nationwide Differential Global Positioning System (NDGPS, transferred from FRA). The FHWA's request is 15 percent higher than the actual level in FY 2006 and NHTSA's is 8 percent higher.1 About 80 percent of the Department's entire FY 2008 request will support RD&T in FAA and FHWA.

Section 3, Appendix A, and Appendix B provide additional details on RD&T funding within the operating administrations.

RD&T Funding by Research Activity

The Department's RD&T request comprises the following three types of activities:

Research and Development (R&D). Includes basic research (research without a specific application); applied research (research to support a specific need); and developmental research (design, development, and improvement of prototypes and processes).

Technology Investment. Comprises demonstration projects and other related activities associated with R&D.

Facilities. Acquisition, design, construction, and repair of physical facilities used for R&D.

Figure 2 shows the breakdown of RD&T funding by these budget categories.

Funding within these categories has been fairly constant over the 3-year period covered by this report, with 69 to 73 percent for R&D, 25 to 29 percent for technology investment, and 2 percent for facilities. In FY 2008, 71 percent of the RD&T request ($794 million) is for R&D, including basic and applied research; 27 percent ($298 million) for technology demonstrations and related efforts; and 2 percent ($19 million) for upgrading or maintaining the Department's research facilities.

RD&T Earmarking

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) defines an "earmark" as funding for projects or programs where the congressional direction circumvents the merit-based or competitive allocation process, specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the Administration to control critical aspects of the funds allocation process.2 Table 2 shows the FY 2006 funding for RD&T activities that meet this definition.

As shown in the table, in FY 2006 about 22 percent of the Department's total FY 2006 RD&T budget was earmarked. The FAA, FHWA, FRA, FTA, NHTSA, and OST all had some portion of their RD&T budgets earmarked, with OST, FTA, FRA, and FHWA having the greatest percentage of earmarking. The FMCSA, PHMSA, and RITA had no RD&T earmarks in FY 2006.

Section 3 provides additional details on the actual impact of earmarking on operating administration RD&T programs.3

Support for DOT Strategic Goals

In addition to overseeing their respective transportation sectors, DOT's operating administrations share a commitment to advancing DOT goals and the RD&T strategies identified in the Transportation RD&T Strategic Plan (see Appendix C).4 Figure 3 shows the portion of the FY 2008 RD&T request that will address each DOT goal.

Nearly half of the FY 2008 request supports DOT's reduced congestion goal, a total of $550 million. Forty percent, or $444 million, supports safety RD&T. Organizational excellence accounts for 5 percent of the request, or $55 million, and environmental stewardship 4 percent, or $47 million. Global connectivity totals 1 percent of the RD&T request, about $10 million. Security RD&T represents less than 1 percent, or $5 million.

Section 3 and Appendix B provide further details on operating administration RD&T support for DOT goals.

FY 2008 Highlights: Crossmodal RD&T

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)($110M). The DOT's largest crossmodal initiative, this program supports the advancement of ITS through investments in major initiatives, exploratory studies, and deployment support. Increasingly, the ITS program targets investments to initiatives that have the potential for significant payoffs in terms of improving safety, reducing congestion, and enhancing productivity. Under the policy direction of RITA, the ITS Joint Program Office leads the program and coordinates activities among FHWA, FMCSA, FRA, FTA, and NHTSA. Priorities for FY 2008 include eight major initiatives: Vehicle Infrastructure Integration; Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety Systems; Cooperative Intersection Collision Avoidance Systems; Integrated Corridor Management; Next Generation 911; Emergency Management and Operations; Mobility Services for All Americans; and Clarus (National Surface Transportation Weather Observing and Forecasting System).

University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program ($77M). Managed by RITA and funded by FHWA and FTA, the UTC program conducts basic and applied research to advance the body of knowledge in transportation; supports education programs to expand the transportation workforce; and provides capacity building to transportation professionals. SAFETEA-LU authorized the most significant expansion of the program to date, increasing funding and the number of UTCs from 33 to 60. To ensure full use of the UTCs to advance transportation research and education, in FY 2008 the Department will assess the extent to which the UTCs are meeting legislative requirements and supporting DOT goals; sponsor workshops to showcase UTC research; and produce an annual report describing program accomplishments.

Human Factors ($52M). The DOT Human Factors Coordinating Committee identifies and coordinates human factors research and ensures the appropriate application of the science of human factors to the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of transportation systems. Involving work in FAA, FHWA, FMCSA, FRA, and NHTSA, human factors RD&T in FY 2008 will address human interface requirements for the next generation of air traffic workstations; improved training methods for pilots, flight inspectors, and maintenance technicians; safety benefits of driver-assistance technologies; reducing alcohol- and drug-impaired driving, speeding, and aggressive driving and increasing use of occupant restraints; developing a prototype system for detecting and alerting drowsy commercial drivers; human factors issues associated with use of the Highway Driving Simulator; and human factors in grade crossing accidents.

Hydrogen Safety R&D ($7.6M). Led by RITA and coordinated by DOT's Hydrogen Working Group, this initiative supports RD&T needed to safely and reliably transition the transportation system to a hydrogen economy. Involving research in FAA, FHWA, FTA, NHTSA, OST, and RITA, the program addresses hydrogen safety, operational reliability, security, transportation, and distribution, in cooperation with other agencies and with university and industry partners. Funding in FY 2008 will support the following activities: developing guidelines for the design and operation of hydrogen delivery and transport systems; ensuring that hydrogen internal combustion engine and fuel-cell powered vehicles attain a level of safety comparable to other vehicles; assessing barriers to the deployment of hydrogen and fuel-cell transit buses; addressing policy issues associated with hydrogen infrastructure, safety codes, and standards; providing hydrogen safety training at the University of Montana; and researching hydrogen storage at Delaware State University.

Remote Sensing ($6.8M). The DOT's remote sensing program develops new applications of commercial remote sensing and spatial information technologies for use in infrastructure development and construction. Managed by RITA and funded by FHWA, the program will establish a national policy for and validate applications of these technologies in cooperation with consortia of university research centers, industry partners, and State agencies. Work in FY 2008 will focus on new methods for monitoring the quality of infrastructure construction, managing freight flows, and collecting data for corridor planning and environmental impact assessment.

1 The increase for FHWA is due to the application of the obligation limitation and 1 percent rescission for FY 2006. The FY 2008 request is similar to the FY 2006 appropriated level.

2 M-07-09, Collection of information on earmarks, Page 1, January 25, 2007.

3 For example, while the table shows that 23 percent of FHWA's total RD&T budget was earmarked, the percentage for FHWA's core research program—Surface Transportation Research, Development, and Deployment—was 43 percent.

4 http://www.rita.dot.gov/publications/transportation_rd_t_strategic_plan/