The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) invests approximately $1 billion per year, as authorized by Congress, to continually advance our nation’s critical and complex transportation system through a rich array of research-related activities, including the awarding of contracts, grants and other forms of federal assistance to universities, laboratories, state and local transportation entities, small businesses and others.
While many transportation research projects hold the potential to benefit multiple aspects of our transportation system, specific projects authorized by Congress are most commonly tied to one transportation mode. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R), among its other programmatic duties, is charged by Congress with coordinating research across DOT to ensure that the nation’s taxpayers obtain the best value possible for every investment that DOT makes in transportation research, development and technology (RD&T).
On behalf of the Secretary of Transportation, OST-R convenes a group called the RD&T Planning Team that brings together the research directors of each of DOT’s modal operating administrations. In addition to representatives of the Office of the Secretary, the members of this group include the research leaders of:
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
- Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
- Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
- Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
- Maritime Administration (MARAD)
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
- Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC)
In its monthly meetings, the RD&T Planning Team:
- engages in strategic RDT planning across the Department, reviewing and coordinating research plans and budgets to identify opportunities and gaps and prevent duplication of research;
- periodically assesses, examines and discusses DOT research programs and the research plans for each modal administration, to ensure their continued relevance and quality;
- identifies best practices in research performance and technology transfer that warrant support and broader promotion by the team and the Department.
This cross-disciplinary technical forum at DOT has proven vital to all transportation modes, specifically in delivering resource efficiencies and accelerating sharing and deployment of new technologies. For more than a decade, this active and robust forum has identified opportunities for cross-modal teamwork and cooperation, and reinforced the value of continuous interagency work.