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Strategic Goal 1 Guide Investment to Maximize the Impact of U.S. DOT's RD and T Resources

Strategic Goal 1 Guide Investment to Maximize the Impact of U.S. DOT's RD and T Resources

Measure and track performance and net benefits for USDOT RD&T dollars invested; establish a clear alignment between USDOT’s priorities and strategic objectives; and assess the tradeoffs between potential research benefits, costs, and risks. Work to ensure effective public investment in Federal transportation RD&T by review of RD&T programs and budgets to ensure that they most effectively and efficiently address Departmental objectives and priorities. Achieve greater RD&T budget transparency.

The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission highlighted the critical role of Federal transportation RD&T leadership in its December 2007 report, Research, Development & Technology: A Coherent Transportation Research Program for the Nation as 1 of 10 program areas in which Federal surface transportation investment should be concentrated. The Commission Report states that "the Federal Government is best suited to monitor the vast scope of research activities underway across the Nation and the world, targeting funds to research gaps." This language builds on congressional views expressed in Title 23 of the U.S. Code: "research and development are critical to developing and maintaining a transportation system that meets the goals of safety, mobility, economic vitality, efficiency, equity and environmental protection."


The impact of USDOT’s Federal investment in RD&T is maximized and fully aligned with national priorities and USDOT’s transportation strategic goals: safety; reduced congestion; environmental stewardship; global connectivity; security, preparedness, and response; and organizational excellence. Moreover, DOT RD&T budget transparency is achieved. (See Figure 2, Research Planning and Investment Coordination)


To achieve its objective for guiding investment and maximizing the impact of U.S. DOT's RD&T resources, RITA will:

  • Establish the National Transportation Research Agenda: RITA will establish and publish the national transportation research agenda aligned with the Nation’s transportation objectives in coordination with the Department’s multimodal Research Investment Board and the broader transportation community.

  • Execute and Direct the Research, Planning and Investment Coordination (RPIC) Process within U.S. DOT: RITA will coordinate RD&T investments through the Research, Planning, and Investment Coordination (RPIC) process. An adaptation of the Capital Planning and Investment Control processes developed in response to the Clinger-Cohen Act, the RPIC processes are iterative with inputs coming from across DOT and feeding into the budget lifecycle.

    RPIC’s benefi ts include increased collaboration between operating administrations and the ability to achieve DOT’s RD&T strategic objectives; clearer alignment between RD&T initiatives with strategic objectives; a forum for measuring and tracking performance and net 12 U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration benefi ts for dollars invested; a framework for assessing tradeoffs between potential research benefi ts, costs, and risks; and a protocol for setting RD&T priorities and making appropriate RD&T resource shifts based on priorities at an enterprise level.

    Completing development of a searchable RPIC database will improve the transparency of USDOT’s research portfolio and budget utilization. RITA has set up a prototype online database to trace DOT’s RD&T spending, with the goal to achieve greater budget transparency and bring into one database all of the RD&T data that is currently scattered among many agencies and not easily accessed, certainly not through one user-friendly location. The RPIC database will provide RITA with a critical tool for achieving its mission to coordinate DOT’s more than $1 billion research investment, and will allow policy makers, researchers, and others to search for RD&T information by research topic, funding level, grant description, contractor, State, congressional district, and more.

  • Lead, Engage and Involve the RD&T Planning Council and Planning Team in RD&T Planning Efforts: Lead and involve the internal USDOT RD&T Planning Council and RD&T Planning Team in the RPIC and the RD&T strategic planning processes and ensure a maximum return on investment of Departmental research resources as well as their close alignment with USDOT objectives and priorities and the President’s R&D investment criteria.