Detailed Justification for RDT Coordination

Detailed Justification for RDT Coordination

What Do I Need to Know Before Reading This Justification?

The core of RITA's mission is to coordinate research across the USDOT to maximize and leverage the taxpayers' $1.2B annual investment in transportation research, development and technology (RD&T) activities and to ensure that decisions are made based on sound science and rigorous analysis.

  • RITA coordinates RD&T through the RD&T Planning Council, the RD&T Planning Team and DOT's research clusters ( as well as through inter-departmental education events, coordination of technology transfer activities and outreach.
  • Through the transportation Knowledge Management System (KMS), RITA provides transparency as well as information needed to identify opportunities for greater coordination and collaboration.

What Is the Request and What Will We Get for The Funds?

FY 2012 RD&T Coordination
Budget Request

Program Activity FY 2010 Actual FY 2012 Request Change FY 2010-2012
Education and Outreach 50 50 0
Knowledge System Enhancement & Maintenance 200 200 0
Technology Transfer Program Support 50 50 0
Coordination 236 600 364
Total $536 $900 $364

Key Actions:

  • Develop a Communication, Education and Outreach program using multiple Web 2.0 tools to disseminate information about transportation RD&T within the USDOT RESEARCH community, increase awareness of USDOT funded university research and increase transparency to external stakeholders and research partners.
  • Enhance and maintain the USDOT KMS database to provide better data mining and reporting and support its continued maintenance. The KMS will allow internal and external stakeholders to access and search for research in progress and research products in their areas of interest. This will help inform their research, avoid duplication, indentify individual researchers and program managers for collaboration, support policy decisions, and identify potential areas of collaboration.
  • Disseminate research products and results to better facilitate their commercialization, technology transfer, and implementation.

What is the Program?

Strategic Goal: Safety, State of Good Repair, Economic Competitiveness, Livable Communities, and Environmental Sustainability.

Purpose/Beneficiaries: Provides strategic direction and fosters coordination and collaboration of the USDOT research programs. RD&T Coordination enhances the USDOT's ability to foster technology transfer, ensure implementation of RESEARCH results and inform RD&T stakeholders of USDOT research activities.

Beneficiaries: USDOT cross-modal and mode-specific research programs, researchers both with within and outside of the USDOT and ultimately users and managers of the transportation system.

Partners: USDOT modal administrations, including members of the RD&T Planning Team (Associate Administrators for RD&T) develop the DOT RD&T Strategic Plan with input from a broad array of external stakeholders and partners. The RD&T Strategic Plan will be implemented and continuously updated and refined over the next five years and beyond.

Description: Databases containing cross-modal and mode-specific research program and project details are the bases of the overall KMS database and U.S. DOT research clusters supported by the collaborative website used to facilitate collaboration and coordination. USDOT modal administrations are the sources of information used by RITA to inform other USDOT, university, state, and foundation researchers of our effortsfostering coordination and collaboration.

Prior Year Accomplishments:

  • Increased RD&T coordination through:
    • Monthly meetings of RD&T Planning Team
    • Convened 14 RD&T Research Clusters and held three rounds of cross-modal meetings among members.
    • Collaborative development of a draft RD&T Strategic Plan including external stakeholder input.
    • Establishment of USDOT Research Cluster areas and identification of USDOT program managers/researchers in priority areas.
    • Establishment of Research Cluster collaborative/interactive websites for posting and dissemination of information on completed, current and planned research projects, people and products.
    • Brought together DOT modal administrations to drive collaborative research and analysis in support of the Secretary's Distracted Driving initiative.
  • Communication activities included:
    • Quarterly site visits by RD&T Planning Team to USDOT modal administration RESEARCH facilities to familiarize members with research capabilities and pursuits of modal partners.
    • Monthly publication of University Transportation Center (UTC) Program Spotlight newsletters, seminars, lectures and monthly RD&T Interchange email newsletters to all USDOT researchers, RD&T Planning Team members, UTC directors and other interested stakeholders.
    • External RITA RD&T Program website with added links to U.S. DOT RESEARCH information.
    • Technical support to USDOT Climate Change Center lecture series.
    • Monthly meetings of the RD&T Planning Team and regularly scheduled meetings of research Cluster members.
    • The annual UTC Spotlight Conference cosponsored with the Transportation RESEARCH Board (TRB).
  • Completed basic functionality of RD&T Knowledge Management System (KMS) that contains searchable descriptors of project level activities in RD&T across the U.S. DOT and established staff position to manage the KMS database.
  • Dedicated staff to develop and coordinate technology transfer program. RITA is gathering information and selecting best practices used at other agencies. The technology transfer program will support dissemination of information on research products for implementation and for commercial developments.

Why Is This Program Necessary?

RD&T coordination activities enable RITA to better recognize and use the synergies in the USDOT's RD&T programs and to identify opportunities for collaborative research efforts. Through the RD&T Planning Council and RD&T Planning Team the USDOT RD&T Strategic Plan is continually updated with external stakeholder input. The budget guidance, budget reviews and program reviews result in better coordinated transportation research, adoption of best practices in research program management and peer review, and minimize duplication.

RD&T coordination includes the creation of USDOT research clusters made up of research program managers and researchers that meet regularly and interact via the collaborative website. This encourages research program managers and researchers to interact, share planned and in-progress research plans, post implementable research results, conduct online collaboration, debate research questions, and report on research outcomes. These mechanisms will inform others on progress, topics being explored and products that can be leveraged. RD&T coordination also includes sponsorship of seminars and lectures by transportation researchers, particularly on multi-modal topics.

RD&T coordination also includes the KMS database that supports research coordination, facilitation, review, and strategic planning. The KMS database also fosters research coordination and collaboration across the USDOT and with stakeholders, and promotes excellence in research management, transparency and dissemination of readily implementable research results.

Beneficiaries include the USDOT, transportation research program managers and researchers, external stakeholders, transportation system managers and users, OMB, Congress.

Most transportation research is funded on a mode-by-mode basis. The RD&T Coordination program provides a mechanism for mode-specific research to be coordinated through the RD&T Planning Team and Planning Council. The advancements in information flow and awareness would stop. Duplication of effort, and a slowing in the adoption of best practices in research program management would likely occur. Leveraging and advancement of cross-modal USDOT Research Clusters would halt, and the USDOT KMS would not be available for coordinating research across transportation modes.

The program staff is dedicated to looking across the USDOT modal administrations to identify areas of potential synergy, and prevent overlap, and inefficiencies resulting from duplication of effort. Funding for a technology transfer program provides structured dissemination of information on research products across the USDOT and with stakeholders, reducing the potential for leveraging of funds and results and adoption of technologies across the transportation industry.

How Do You Know the Program Works?

Effective: Evidence received through the RD&T Planning Council and the RD&T Planning Team and during site visits by Planning Team members to modal administration research facilities demonstrate that effectiveness of the program has increased as a result of initiatives such as the multimodal coordination and development of the USDOT RD&T Strategic Plan and initiation of USDOT Research Clusters and collaborative web site.

Research: RITA's RD&T coordination program is developing effective qualitative and quantitative metrics for these activities. Metrics in development are:

  • Use of collaborative website to seek, post and share information about research in progress, people and products.
  • Number of collaborative research projects undertaken by USDOT.
  • Number of patent applications posted and implementable research products listed on the collaborative website.
  • Number of projects, studies and other outputs shared across the USDOT as well as with federal partners and external stakeholders.
  • Full representation of USDOT's $1.2B research portfolio within the KMS database.
  • Use of the KMS to identify research gaps, overlaps, and potential synergies.

Efficient: Approaches developed and being pursued, to include the USDOT RD&T Strategic Plan, the RESEARCH Clusters, the collaborative and the Knowledge Management System have all been endorsed and/or identified by the USDOT RD&T Planning Team comprising the modal Associate Administrators, and have been developed with their input for optimum utility and applicability.

Why Do We Want/Need To Fund The Program At The Requested Level?

Funding Options:The current funding level will allow the program to proceed as planned. This year's activities include:

  • Maintain the Knowledge Management System (KMS), effectively identify and incorporate new research efforts into the database, upgrade software, and improve the system's functionality and reporting capabilities so that it maintains its usefulness as a USDOT-wide resource.
  • Leverage the KMS to produce topic-related reports in key areas of interest.
  • Enhance the strategic collaboration process for transportation RD&T.
  • Identify products and outcomes resulting from USDOT RD&T investments through the technology transfer program and capitalize on events and activities sponsored by other Departments (e.g. DoD, USDA and NIST) such as the annual World's Best Technology showcase inviting researchers to present concepts to industry and investors.
  • Increase USDOT participation in initiatives of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)/National Science and Technology Council.
  • Strengthen existing public/private technology partnerships and promote new collaborations through outreach to the entire transportation community.
  • Conduct education programs and seminars, and support internships and sabbaticals to inform researchers within the USDOT, and funded universities, of the USDOT's ongoing RD&T activities.

Funding Options: FY 2012 requested funding of $.900M will support Knowledge Management System (KMS) database development and maintenance, education and outreach and support of researcher connectivity through meetings, webinars, and information dissemination.

History/Outyear Needs: FY 2010 $.536M; FY 2012 $.900M.