The U.S. Department of Transportation's (U.S. DOT's) FY2012 Research, Development and Technology (RD&T) budget related to surface transportation reflects the Department's strategic goals to improve safety, ensure that transportation assets are maintained in a state of good repair, work to achieve environmental sustainability, foster livable communities, and support the Nation's long-term economic competiveness.. Achieving these goals will transform our transportation infrastructure into a truly multimodal integrated system that provides the traveling public and U.S. businesses with safe, convenient, affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation choices.

U.S. DOT's RD&T efforts span all modes of transportation, enabling improvements to the Nation's transportation system and supporting data-driven decision-making about national priorities. U.S. DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) coordinates the RD&T Planning Council which is composed of the heads of the operating administrations, and other senior DOT leaders. The RD&T Planning Team includes the operating administrations' Associate Administrators for RD&T.

Through the Council and Team, the U.S. DOT takes a department-wide, systems-level view of the multimodal transportation system, addresses research areas that go beyond a modal-oriented and modal-funded perspective, and ensures that RD&T resources are invested wisely to achieve measurable improvements in our Nation's transportation system. The Council and Team, led by the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), drive an ongoing coordination process involving all U.S. DOT operating administrations and the Office of the Secretary. This process incorporates multiyear strategic planning, annual program planning, and budget and performance planning across DOT, as well as the unique mission requirements of U.S. DOT's operating administrations. The result is cross-modal planning and collaboration of RD&T at the highest levels of U.S. DOT.

Transportation RD&T has the potential to unlock transformative solutions that can may lead to dramatic improvements in our Nation's transportation systems. Federal investment in transportation RD&T has led to the development of new materials, innovative production methods, and powerful design and planning tools. It has provided decision makers with information and knowledge to make better decisions, and operators with technologies and tools to solve problems.

The organization of the U.S. DOT into operating administrations, each with its own statutory requirements and missions, makes collaborative cross-modal research challenging. Federal policies for surface transportation, aviation, and passenger rail are established through separate legislation and draw funding from separate sources. Many operating administrations, for example, must devote substantial portions of their RD&T budgets to research supporting their internal regulatory rulemaking activities. While operating administrations are interested in addressing cross-modal issues, they have limited flexibility to allocate resources to such research.

U.S. DOT engages in cooperative and joint research with stakeholders and partners across the transportation sector, including other Federal agencies, State and local agencies, academia, industry, and not-for-profit institutions, such as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Transportation Research Board (TRB), and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). U.S. DOT will continue to consult and coordinate with transportation research partners such as the Transportation Research Board, State and local governments, academic institutions, transportation industry, and the general public to promote an integrated and effective transportation system, leveraging all modal resources.