Administrator's Overview

Administrator's Overview

The Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) is dedicated to coordinating, facilitating and reviewing the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Research Development and Technology (RD&T) activities, and to advancing the development and deployment of innovative technologies and concepts that will improve our mobility, promote economic growth, and ultimately deliver a better integrated transportation system.

The FY 2008 budget request for the RITA totals $39,000,000, an increase of $3,303,000 or 9 percent over the FY 2007 President’s budget request.  This request provides $5,000,000 for the Nationwide Differential Global Positioning System (NDGPS) Program and also reflects the funding levels authorized in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU, P.L. 109-59, August 8, 2005).

This budget request continues RITA’s commitment to focusing DOT research, development and technology efforts on the strategic objectives of the DOT Strategic Plan, expressed through the development of the Five-Year DOT Research, Development and Technology  Strategic Plan and guided by the executive-level DOT RD&T Planning Council.

RITA’s Mandate

The Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act (P.L. 108-426, November 30, 2004, the “Mineta Act”), assigned the following responsibilities to RITA:

  • coordination, facilitation, and review of the Department's research and development programs and activities;
  • advancement, and research and development, of innovative technologies, including intelligent transportation systems;
  • comprehensive transportation statistics research, analysis, and reporting;
  • education and training in transportation and transportation-related fields;
  • activities of the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center; and
  • other powers and duties prescribed by the Secretary.

RITA’s SAFETEA-LU Responsibilities

A significant portion of RITA’s budget request supports the authorized SAFETEA-LU programs delegated to RITA by the Secretary as supporting RITA’s mandate.  These programs include:

  • National Intermodal System Improvement Plan (sec. 4149);
  • Transportation Research and Development Strategic Planning (sec. 5208);
  • National Cooperative Freight Research Program (sec. 5209);
  • University Transportation Research (secs. 3036, 5401, 5402);
  • Commercial Remote Sensing Products and Spatial Information Technologies (sec. 5506);
  • and the mandates of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (sec. 5601).

Summary of FY 2008 Budget Request

RITA’s FY 2008 budget request of $39,000,000 is composed of $27,000,000 from the Highway Trust Fund and $12,000,000 from the General Fund.  In addition, RITA will undertake over $300 million in transportation-related research, analysis, technology deployment, education and training on a reimbursable basis.  To summarize RITA’s FY 2008 budget request:

Research, Development and Technology

RITA’s Office of Research, Development and Technology (RD&T) leads the Department’s work in RD&T strategic planning, coordination, facilitation and review; manages the University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program; and manages RITA’s national RD&T programs and grants.  The requirements to support these programs are reflected in budget requests for:

  • RD&T Coordination;
  • Hydrogen Fuels Safety R&D (in support of the President’s Hydrogen Initiative); and
  • Nationwide Differential Global Positioning System (NDGPS) Program.

Transportation Statistics

RITA’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) develops and disseminates transportation data and high quality information, advancing effective use in public and private transportation decision making, through programs addressing:

  • Freight Statistics;
  • Transportation Economics;
  • Geospatial Information Systems;
  • Statistical Methods and Standards; and
  • the National Transportation Library.

Consulting and Other Professional Services

RITA will conduct over $300 million in transportation-related research, analysis, technology deployment, education and training during FY 2008:

  • John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center) (Cambridge, MA) provides research, analysis, technology deployment, and other technical knowledge and expertise to DOT and non-DOT customers with specific transportation systems projects or issues, on a fee-for-service basis.
  • Transportation Safety Institute (TSI) (Oklahoma City, OK) provides training to more than 30,000 DOT and non-DOT transportation professionals annually in transportation safety and security, on a fee-for-service and tuition basis.
  • University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program advances U.S. technology and expertise in the many transportation disciplines, and advances DOT RD&T priorities, through grants for transportation education, research and technology transfer at university-based centers of excellence.

RITA’s Support for the Strategic Objectives of the DOT Strategic Plan

While working to fulfill its legislative mandate and the broader RD&T coordination mission for DOT, RITA uses the DOT Strategic Plan to guide programmatic and administrative decisions, and to formulate and manage resource requirements. 

The FY 2008 budget request supports all of the Department’s strategic objectives.  Examples of the linkage between these objectives and RITA’s FY 2008 programs include:

Safety [$426,000]

  • Undertaking hydrogen safety R&D, and accelerating the hydrogen safety education and training initiative with the National Association of State Fire Marshals.
  • Providing multimodal safety training at the Transportation Safety Institute, as part of RITA’s reimbursable programs.

Reduced Congestion [$7,106,000]

  • Enhancing transportation planning and operations by distributing transportation data through the National Transportation Atlas Databases (NTAD), and supporting the transportation component of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).
  • Providing sophisticated mapping support to the DOT Crisis Management Center (CMC).
  • Performing system engineering toward development of a Civil Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Architecture.

Global Connectivity [$20,426,000]

  • Conducting and analyzing the Commodity Flow Survey (CFS).
  • Supplying technical support for the International Trade Data System (ITDS) and developing the portal interface for DOT users.

Environmental Stewardship [$426,000]

  • Leading the Department’s participation in the President’s Hydrogen Initiative, the Hydrogen R&D Interagency Task Force, and the International Partnership for a Hydrogen Economy (IPHE).
  • Conducting research in hydrogen fuels technology, including a hydrogen infrastructure analysis study and hydrogen materials compatibility research.

Security [$0]

  • Providing significant technical and training support to DOT and non-DOT transportation security activities through the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and the Transportation Safety Institute, as part of RITA’s reimbursable programs.

Organizational Excellence [$10,616,000]

  • Completing, and tracking and reporting status and results against, the DOT Five-Year RD&T Strategic Plan.
  • Leveraging the resources of the National Transportation Library to develop an accessible transportation knowledge network
  • Increasing the relevance to DOT and national RD&T priorities of the transportation research activities undertaken by the university centers funded through the UTC Program.

RITA Support to DOT Strategic Objectives

RITA Support to DOT Strategic Objectives. If you are a user with disability and you need further assistance, call 800-853-1351 or email