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Oversight of DOT's Research Programs and User Satisfaction with 
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Report to Congressional Committees: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

August 2006: 

Transportation Research: 

Opportunities for Improving the Oversight of DOT's Research Programs 
and User Satisfaction with Transportation Statistics: 

Research and Innovative Technology Administration: 

GAO-06-917: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-06-917, a report to congressional committees 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) research, development, and 
technology (RD&T) budget totaled $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2005. 
DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA)—which 
includes the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)—oversees DOT’s 
RD&T activities. GAO examined (1) how RITA’s responsibilities for 
overseeing DOT’s RD&T activities differ from those of its predecessor, 
the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA); (2) RITA’s 
practices for coordinating, facilitating, and reviewing RD&T 
activities; (3) the progress DOT has made in implementing GAO’s 2003 
recommendations on how to improve the coordination and evaluation of 
RD&T activities; and (4) how BTS identifies and monitors how well it 
serves its users. To address these issues, GAO reviewed relevant 
documentation and interviewed officials from RITA, BTS, and three 
operating administrations. 

What GAO Found: 

In 2005, RITA took over RSPA’s responsibilities for overseeing DOT’s 
RD&T activities when RSPA was dissolved. While RITA’s mission and 
strategic objectives are similar to those RSPA had, RITA differs from 
RSPA in a number of ways. For example, RITA proposed a $2 million 
increase in its fiscal year 2007 budget request for the oversight of 
DOT’s RD&T activities through its proposed Transportation Futures and 
Applied Technology Program, which, among other things, would provide 
access to technical experts to RITA on a contract basis. Additionally, 
RITA’s responsibility for evaluation is less clearly defined than 
RSPA’s. RITA, unlike RSPA, is not required to measure the results or 
evaluate the effectiveness of RD&T activities. However, RITA is not 
explicitly prevented from evaluating such activities. 

RITA coordinates, facilitates, and reviews DOT’s RD&T activities 
through various practices. For example, RITA has two coordinating 
bodies—the RD&T Planning Council and the RD&T Planning Team—and 
conducts budget reviews, among other practices. RITA has not, however, 
established performance goals, a clear implementing strategy, or an 
evaluation plan that delineates how its coordination, facilitation, and 
review practices will further DOT’s mission or ensure the effectiveness 
of its RD&T investment. Without such a strategic approach, it is 
difficult for RITA to ensure that DOT is making the most of its 
approximately $1 billion annual RD&T investment. 

RITA has partially implemented four of our recommendations and has not 
implemented the other. For example, while RITA, through its two 
coordinating bodies, has taken some action to review RD&T activities 
for duplication and opportunities for joint efforts, RITA has not 
established the scope of RD&T activities to be reviewed, the 
methodology of the review, or how the results will be used to make 
decisions about future RD&T activities. 

BTS does not have a systematic process for identifying its primary 
users, soliciting ongoing feedback from those users, and determining 
whether or how that feedback should be incorporated. For example, 
rather than identify specific users of BTS data products and services, 
BTS considers its users to be those broad categories of intended users 
described in federal legislation. Further, rather than routinely 
soliciting user feedback on all data products and services, such as 
through a customer satisfaction survey, BTS only solicits limited 
feedback from some users of specific products through conferences, 
workshops, or other meetings. Finally, BTS relies on its program 
managers to evaluate and determine how best to address feedback from 
its users; however, the managers are not required to—and often do 
not—report the results of whether or how they considered user feedback. 
Without a systematic process for identifying its users, soliciting 
ongoing feedback, and determining whether or how that feedback should 
be incorporated, BTS is limited in its ability to consider feedback and 
use it to make improvements to data products. 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO makes several recommendations to DOT to enhance RITA’s ability to 
manage and ensure the effectiveness of RD&T activities. These include 
(1) developing performance goals, an implementing strategy, and an 
evaluation plan for RITA; and (2) developing a systematic process for 
BTS to identify its primary users and solicit and incorporate feedback 
from those users. DOT generally agreed with the findings and 
recommendations in this report. 

[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-917]. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Mathew Scire at (202) 512-
2834 or sciremj@gao.gov. 

[End of Section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results Summary: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments: 

Appendix I: Review of DOT's Research and Innovative Technology 
Administration: 

Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Table: 

Table 1: Status of RITA's Implementation of GAO's 2003 Recommendations: 

Abbreviations: 

BTS: Bureau of Transportation Statistics: 
DOT: Department of Transportation: 
EAS: Essential Air Service: 
FAA: Federal Aviation Administration: 
FHWA: Federal Highway Administration: 
FRA: Federal Railroad Administration: 
FTA: Federal Transit Administration: 
GPRA: Government Performance and Results Act of 1993: 
MPO: Metropolitan Planning Organization: 
NHTS: National Household Travel Survey: 
NHTSA: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: 
OMB: Office of Management and Budget: 
OST: Office of the Secretary of Transportation: 
PHMSA: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration: 
PRA: Paperwork Reduction Act: 
R&D: research and development: 
RD&T: research, development, and technology: 
RITA: Research and Innovative Technology Administration: 
RSPA: Research and Special Programs Administration: 
SAFETEA-LU: Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation 
Equity Act: A Legacy for Users: 
TEA-21: Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century: 
TSAR: Transportation Statistics Annual Report: 
UTC: University Transportation Centers: 

[End of section] 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

August 15, 2006: 

The Honorable Christopher Bond: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Patty Murray: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, the Judiciary, Housing and 
Urban Development, and Related Agencies: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Joe Knollenberg: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable John W. Olver: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban 
Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, and Independent 
Agencies: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
House of Representatives: 

In fiscal year 2005, the Department of Transportation's (DOT) research, 
development, and technology[Footnote 1] (RD&T) budget totaled 
approximately $1.1 billion, including projects undertaken by DOT's 
operating administrations, such as the Federal Highway Administration 
and the Federal Aviation Administration. RD&T activities are vital to 
meeting DOT's key transportation priorities, such as increasing 
transportation safety and enhancing mobility for all Americans. Prior 
to 2005, DOT's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) was 
responsible for overseeing DOT's RD&T activities, the Office of 
Pipeline Safety, and the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety. Over the 
years, GAO and others have raised concerns about RSPA's capabilities 
for improving RD&T coordination and evaluation across DOT, and, in 
2003, GAO made several recommendations to improve those 
efforts.[Footnote 2] 

In response to these concerns and to help delineate and clarify roles 
and responsibilities for overseeing DOT's RD&T activities, the Norman 
Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act of 2004 (Pub. 
L. No. 108-426) dissolved RSPA and created two new administrations--the 
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration[Footnote 3] 
(PHMSA) and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration 
(RITA). RITA was created to provide DOT with a more focused research 
organization and to assist in avoiding DOT-wide research duplication 
and inefficiency, among other purposes.[Footnote 4] The act also 
transferred the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and the 
Office of Intermodalism to RITA. Through this act, RITA is responsible 
for coordinating, facilitating, and reviewing DOT's RD&T programs and 
activities, which include the activities conducted by DOT's operating 
administrations as well as other RD&T and statistical programs managed 
by RITA (e.g., BTS, the Office of Intermodalism, and University 
Transportation Centers). 

In Senate Report 109-109, accompanying the DOT and related agencies 
appropriation bill for fiscal year 2006, the House and Senate 
Committees on Appropriations directed GAO to assess how RITA is 
resolving the concerns of its predecessor administration and better 
coordinating DOT's RD&T and statistical activities. Specifically, this 
report discusses (1) how RITA's responsibilities for overseeing DOT's 
RD&T activities differ from RSPA's; (2) RITA's practices for 
coordinating, facilitating, and reviewing RD&T activities; (3) the 
progress RITA has made in implementing GAO's 2003 recommendations; and 
(4) how BTS identifies its users and monitors how well it is serving 
those users. 

To determine how RITA's oversight responsibilities differ from RSPA's, 
we collected information through legislative histories, document 
reviews, and interviews with officials within RITA and used it to 
compare RITA and RSPA with respect to mission, organizational 
structure, responsibility for overseeing RD&T activities, work 
activities, budgetary resources, and strategic goals. To determine 
RITA's practices for coordinating, facilitating, and reviewing DOT's 
RD&T activities and what progress RITA and RSPA have made in 
implementing GAO's 2003 recommendations, we reviewed pertinent 
documentation and conducted semistructured interviews with officials in 
RITA, the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, and three of nine 
operating administrations that received RD&T funds in fiscal year 2005. 
The three operating administrations we selected for interviews--Federal 
Highway Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, and Federal 
Transit Administration--are among those with the largest RD&T 
budgets.[Footnote 5] To determine how BTS identifies its users and 
monitors how well it is serving those users, we (1) identified criteria 
for monitoring user satisfaction, including federal and other agency 
requirements and guidelines set by DOT, the National Research Council, 
and GAO; (2) through document reviews and interviews with BTS and 
operating administration officials identified above, obtained 
information on BTS's processes for identifying key users of its data 
products and for soliciting and incorporating feedback from those 
users; and (3) compared BTS's processes to the criteria to identify 
major gaps. We assessed the reliability of the information contained in 
this report through interviews with knowledgeable officials and reviews 
of documentation and corroborating information, and we determined that 
it was sufficiently reliable for our purposes. We conducted our work 
from November 2005 through August 2006 according to generally accepted 
government auditing standards. This report summarizes the information 
we provided to your staff during our May 30, 2006, briefing and, in 
addition, contains recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation 
to improve RITA's oversight of the department's RD&T activities and 
user satisfaction with transportation statistics. The briefing slides 
are included in appendix I. 

Results Summary: 

RITA Differs from RSPA in Proposed Budgetary Levels, Responsibility for 
Evaluation, and Extent of Multimodal Focus: 

Beginning in 2005, RITA took over RSPA's responsibilities for 
overseeing DOT's RD&T activities. While RITA continues to have a 
similar mission and strategic objectives as RSPA--and still does not 
have the authority to direct changes in the operating administrations' 
RD&T activities--RITA differs from RSPA in several ways. First, RITA 
intends to focus significantly more resources in fiscal year 2007 on 
the oversight of DOT's RD&T activities. In DOT's fiscal year 2007 
budget request, RITA proposes a new program--the Transportation Futures 
and Applied Technology Program--to build upon RITA's existing RD&T 
Coordination Program and provide access to highly skilled, specialized 
technical experts to RITA on a contract basis. If enacted, funding for 
these two programs would result in an overall increase of about $2 
million over the enacted fiscal year 2006 budget for the RD&T 
Coordination Program--from $536,000 in fiscal year 2006 to about $2.5 
million in fiscal year 2007.[Footnote 6] Second, RITA's responsibility 
for evaluation is less clearly defined than RSPA's had been. RSPA had 
both legislative and departmental responsibility for measuring the 
results of DOT's RD&T programs and developing more efficient, 
effective, and participative ways to evaluate and measure RD&T program 
effectiveness.[Footnote 7] However, RITA does not have the same 
legislative responsibility for evaluating DOT's RD&T programs because 
the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A 
Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)[Footnote 8] removed the statutory 
responsibility for evaluation activities that had been specifically 
outlined for DOT, which DOT delegated to RSPA. Under the Norman Y. 
Mineta Act, RITA is charged with reviewing DOT's RD&T activities, 
which, according to RITA officials, means that RITA is not required to 
evaluate RD&T activities to determine whether they are achieving 
intended goals, although RITA is not explicitly prevented from 
evaluating such activities. Third, RITA's organizational structure is 
more multimodally[Footnote 9] focused because the Office of Pipeline 
Safety and Office of Hazardous Materials Safety were moved to the newly 
created PHMSA, and the remaining offices in RSPA and other program 
offices--BTS and the Office of Intermodalism--were transferred to the 
newly created RITA. 

RITA Has Several Coordination, Facilitation, and Review Groups and 
Practices but Lacks Performance Goals and a Plan for Evaluating Its Own 
Efforts: 

RITA coordinates, facilitates, and reviews DOT's RD&T activities in a 
variety of ways, including through its two coordinating bodies--the 
RD&T Planning Council and the RD&T Planning Team--and budget reviews, 
among others. The briefing slides in appendix I contain a summary table 
and detailed descriptions of RITA's activities. RITA officials and 
officials from the three operating administrations we interviewed 
provided some examples of the usefulness of RITA's coordination, 
facilitation, and review practices; for example, RITA officials told us 
that the budget review process results in a more consistent approach 
for the operating administrations to show how their RD&T activities 
support DOT's strategic objectives, secretarial priorities, and 
multimodal initiatives. Officials from all three operating 
administrations told us that RITA's Program Review Working 
Group[Footnote 10] meetings provide them with opportunities to share 
best practices relating to program management issues, such as how to 
apply the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) R&D Investment 
Criteria[Footnote 11] to RD&T activities. 

While RITA and other DOT officials provided anecdotal examples of the 
positive effects of RITA's coordination, facilitation, and review 
practices, RITA has not established performance goals or an 
implementing strategy that delineates how the activities and results of 
its coordination, facilitation, and review practices will further DOT's 
mission and ensure the effectiveness of the department's RD&T 
investment; in addition, RITA does not monitor or evaluate the effects 
of its efforts. Also, RITA has not worked with the operating 
administrations to develop common performance measures for DOT's RD&T 
activities. RITA officials told us that they were working with the 
operating administrations to develop an RD&T strategic plan, which is 
due to Congress in the fall of 2006, but they did not expect the plan 
to include goals and measures, as discussed above. Setting meaningful 
goals for performance, and using performance information to measure 
performance against those goals, is consistent with requirements in the 
Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA).[Footnote 12] 
Developing an evaluation plan and analyzing performance information 
against set goals for its own coordination, facilitation, and review 
practices could assist RITA in identifying any problem areas and taking 
corrective actions.[Footnote 13] Without such goals and an evaluation 
plan, it is difficult for RITA to determine its success in overseeing 
and ensuring the effectiveness of DOT's RD&T activities. Also, without 
common performance measures for the RD&T activities of the operating 
administrations, RITA and the operating administrations lack the means 
to monitor and evaluate the collective results of those activities and 
ensure that they are achieving their intended (or other) results and 
furthering the Secretary's and DOT-wide priorities. Linking performance 
goals with the planning and budget process, such as DOT's annual budget 
process, can also help RITA determine where to target its resources to 
improve performance.[Footnote 14] 

RITA Has Made Some Progress in Implementing GAO's 2003 Recommendations: 

In 2003, GAO made five recommendations to DOT and RSPA to improve the 
coordination and evaluation of RD&T activities.[Footnote 15] The 
recommendations generally remain relevant for RITA. As shown in table 
1, RITA has partially implemented four recommendations and has not 
implemented one recommendation. The briefing slides in appendix I 
contain more detailed information on RITA's actions with regard to our 
recommendations. 

Table 1: Status of RITA's Implementation of GAO's 2003 Recommendations: 

Recommendations: Develop a strategy for reviewing all of DOT's research 
projects to identify areas of unnecessary research duplication, 
overlap, and opportunities for joint efforts; 
* Include time frames for implementing this review and discuss the 
development and implementation of a DOT-wide research tracking system 
database; 
* Incorporate the results of this effort into DOT's annual research 
plan and report to Congress on an annual basis; 
Status of implementation: Partially implemented. 

Recommendations: Develop and apply quantifiable performance measures to 
assess the effectiveness of research coordination efforts and document 
the results of these efforts in DOT's annual research plan; 
Status of implementation: Not implemented. 

Recommendations: Develop a strategy to ensure that the results of all 
of DOT's transportation research activities are evaluated according to 
established best practices; 
* Include estimates of the costs for ensuring that evaluations are 
completed; 
* Incorporate the results of these efforts in DOT's annual research 
plan and report to Congress on an annual basis; 
Status of implementation: Partially implemented. 

Recommendations: Include in DOT's annual research plan a summary of all 
research program evaluations conducted and a schedule of future 
evaluations; 
Status of implementation: Partially implemented. 

Recommendations: Document RSPA's process for systematically evaluating 
the results of its own multimodal research programs, and apply this 
process to any future multimodal research programs that RSPA conducts; 
Status of implementation: Partially implemented. 

Source: GAO analysis of RITA information. 

[End of table] 

RITA has made progress, but much remains to be done for RITA to fully 
implement the recommendations. The following is a summary, for each 
recommendation, of the actions taken by RITA (and RSPA) and the type of 
efforts that are still needed to fully implement the recommendations: 

² The first recommendation focuses on developing a strategy for 
identifying areas of unnecessary research duplication, overlap, and 
opportunities for joint efforts. While RITA officials have taken some 
actions to identify areas of unnecessary research duplication and 
opportunities for joint efforts through meetings of its RD&T Planning 
Council and Planning Team, among others, none of these groups have 
developed a strategy that describes (1) the scope of the RD&T projects 
or programs that will be reviewed for duplication or joint efforts, (2) 
the methodology for how all research projects will be reviewed or how 
duplication or joint efforts will be identified, (3) a timeline and the 
frequency for reviews to occur, or (4) how the results of reviews--the 
identification of duplication or an opportunity for joint effort--will 
be used to make decisions about future RD&T activities.[Footnote 16] 
The first recommendation also includes the development of a DOT-wide 
research tracking system database, which, according to a RITA official, 
was dropped from DOT's priorities after the creation of RITA. While 
RITA's proposed Transportation Futures and Applied Technology Program 
includes the development of a Web-based database for DOT's RD&T 
programs, it is uncertain whether this proposed program will be funded. 
RITA has not yet established a catalog of all of the research projects 
within DOT; as such, DOT officials do not have readily accessible data 
on research activities throughout DOT. Without such a strategy-- 
supported by a comprehensive database of ongoing RD&T projects--RITA is 
unable to ensure that areas of research duplication, overlap, and 
opportunities for joint efforts are systematically identified and 
managed. 

² DOT and RSPA did not concur with the second recommendation in 2003, 
citing their views that (1) the most useful and effective performance 
measures focus on results, while coordination is a process and (2) that 
existing coordination processes have been effective in preventing 
unnecessary research duplication. While RITA officials told us that 
they have not developed or applied quantifiable performance measures 
for coordination because they do not believe that a metric approach is 
well suited for assessing the effects of the coordination process, they 
indicated their willingness to develop--in concert with the operating 
administrations--common performance measures for DOT's RD&T activities. 

² The third recommendation calls for developing a strategy for ensuring 
the evaluation of DOT's RD&T activities. RITA officials told us that 
they ensure the evaluation of RD&T activities by reviewing the 
operating administrations' application of OMB's R&D Investment 
Criteria--relevance, quality, and performance--through its budget 
review process. According to RITA officials and OMB documents, the R&D 
Investment Criteria are rooted in best practices and include peer 
review as a mechanism for assessing program quality. However, RITA has 
neither developed nor communicated a strategy for this process that 
describes (1) the scope of RD&T activities of the operating 
administrations that RITA will ensure were evaluated according to best 
practices, (2) the methodology for how RITA will ensure evaluation of 
RD&T activities took place according to established best practices, (3) 
a timeline for when the RD&T evaluations should occur, and (4) how the 
results of the RD&T evaluations will inform future research. Without 
such a strategy, RITA is less able to ensure the quality and 
effectiveness of RD&T activities and investments to determine whether 
they are achieving their intended (or other) goals. 

² The fourth recommendation focuses on publishing a summary of research 
program evaluations and a schedule of future evaluations. RSPA, in its 
fiscal year 2005 annual RD&T plan, published such a summary, but it 
consisted only of the results of its reviews of the operating 
administrations' application of OMB's R&D Investment Criteria. This 
summary did not include other research program evaluations or a 
schedule of future evaluations. Since RSPA was dissolved, RITA has not 
continued to publish the results of these types of reviews because 
SAFETEA-LU removed the requirement for RITA to submit an annual RD&T 
plan. Publishing a current inventory of the evaluation of research 
activities and a schedule for future evaluations on a regular basis 
could provide information about research results and planned research 
for future years. 

² The fifth recommendation addresses RITA's process for systematically 
evaluating the results of its own current multimodal research programs, 
such as the Hydrogen Safety Program, and future multimodal research 
programs. While RITA officials told us they oversee contracts and 
evaluate the results of RD&T activities that are conducted under these 
contracts through a peer review process, RITA has not systematically 
documented this process and it is not clear whether and how this 
process would apply to future multimodal research programs. Without a 
systematic process for evaluating current and future program results, 
RITA is limited in its ability to determine the extent to which its 
multimodal RD&T programs are achieving their intended (or other) goals. 

BTS's Process for Identifying Its Users and Monitoring How Well It Is 
Serving Those Users Is Not Systematic: 

BTS does not have a systematic process in place for identifying its 
primary users, soliciting ongoing feedback from those users, and 
determining whether or how that feedback should be incorporated. First, 
BTS has not established a systematic process for comprehensively 
identifying its primary users, it does not track specific users, and it 
does not have information on the overall number of users of its data 
products. BTS officials told us that their users are primarily 
identified in SAFETEA-LU, which only defines broad categories of data 
users, such as the federal and state governments. BTS officials told us 
they also identify some specific users through other methods, such as 
direct inquiries received through BTS's Web site and by telephone. One 
BTS official also commented that it is difficult to track individual 
users, other than through Web site hits and tracking the number of 
publications ordered. Also, the official said that BTS is limited in 
its ability to collect information on individual data users because of 
privacy concerns. Without a systematic process for comprehensively 
identifying primary users for each of its products and services, BTS 
cannot solicit feedback from these users on an ongoing basis to improve 
those products and services. 

Secondly, BTS has not established a systematic process for soliciting 
feedback from all of its primary users, although it has used a variety 
of methods to obtain feedback from some users on a case-by-case basis. 
For example, rather than routinely soliciting user feedback on all data 
products and services, such as through a customer satisfaction survey, 
BTS receives feedback from some data users about specific BTS products 
from an online comment form and meetings and workshops held at 
conferences and training sessions.[Footnote 17] Without a systematic 
process for soliciting feedback on user satisfaction from all of its 
primary users, BTS cannot ensure it has a full picture of the needs of 
those users and how well it is meeting those needs, which, in turn, 
hinders BTS's ability to make improvements to data products that are 
relevant to users. 

Finally, to evaluate the feedback BTS has solicited from its users, BTS 
officials told us they rely on program managers to determine how best 
to address feedback from its users; however, program managers are not 
required to--and often do not--report the results of how feedback on 
user satisfaction was considered. Although BTS measures the number of 
congressional and governmental agency contacts regarding BTS 
information and the average number of daily unique visitors to the 
TranStats data Web site,[Footnote 18] these indicators are only simple 
counts, not measures of user satisfaction with BTS information. GAO's 
internal control standards suggest that ongoing monitoring take place 
to determine user satisfaction and that policies and procedures be put 
in place to ensure that feedback is evaluated so that improvements to 
products can be made.[Footnote 19] Without a systematic process for 
identifying the primary users for each of its data products and 
services, soliciting feedback on user satisfaction from its users, and 
incorporating that feedback, BTS is limited in its ability to consider 
feedback and make improvements to data products based on user input. 

Conclusions: 

Since it became operational in 2005, RITA has taken some positive steps 
to meet its vision of becoming a departmentwide resource for managing 
and ensuring the effectiveness of RD&T activities. In particular, RITA 
established several coordinating bodies and review processes, and it 
has also proposed additional initiatives, such as the Transportation 
Futures and Applied Technology Program, to build upon its current 
coordination, facilitation, and review practices. However, RITA lacks 
performance goals, a clear implementing strategy, and an evaluation 
plan that collectively delineates how the activities and results of its 
coordinating bodies, review processes, and proposed initiatives will 
further DOT's mission and ensure the effectiveness of the department's 
RD&T investment. Establishing these mechanisms for managing its own 
performance--and linking them to DOT's annual budget process--could 
provide RITA with a clear road map for investing its own limited 
resources; enhance RITA's ability to identify areas where its 
coordination, facilitation, and review efforts are working effectively 
and where they could be improved; and help RITA provide assurance that 
the department's RD&T activities are adequately coordinated, routinely 
evaluated, and achieve their intended (or other) results. In addition, 
RITA and the operating administrations have not worked together to 
develop common performance measures for RD&T activities that are needed 
to evaluate the RD&T efforts departmentwide. With performance goals, an 
implementing strategy, and an evaluation plan for RITA--and common 
performance measures for RD&T activities--RITA and DOT could be in a 
better position to assure Congress that DOT is making the most of its 
approximately $1 billion annual RD&T investment. Additionally, the 
strategy and performance measures could serve as a communication tool 
to establish expectations and anticipated results with the operating 
administrations. 

BTS, as part of RITA, has solicited and evaluated some feedback on user 
satisfaction, but it does not have a systematic process for identifying 
primary users of its transportation data products and services, 
soliciting feedback from those users, or incorporating the feedback it 
solicits. As a result, BTS cannot ensure that it has a comprehensive 
picture of who uses BTS data products, what their needs are, and how 
well the agency is meeting those needs with its data products. By 
establishing more systematic processes for identifying its primary 
users, soliciting feedback from those users, and evaluating feedback on 
user satisfaction, BTS could make more informed decisions on how to 
allocate limited resources to make improvements to its data products. 
While BTS tracks and reports the number of congressional and government 
agency contacts and the number of visitors to its TranStats data Web 
site, developing performance indicators that measure the overall degree 
to which products and services are useful and responsive to the needs 
of its users will allow BTS to understand how well it is serving its 
users over time. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

To enhance RITA's ability to manage and ensure the effectiveness of 
RD&T activities in furthering the department's mission, we recommend 
that the Secretary direct the RITA Administrator to take the following 
seven actions: 

² Develop and incorporate the following into RITA's fiscal year 2008 
budget process, and the annual budget process thereafter: 

² performance goals and an overall implementing strategy that delineate 
how the activities and results of its coordination, facilitation, and 
review practices will further DOT's mission and ensure the 
effectiveness of the department's RD&T investment. The strategy should 
include an evaluation plan for monitoring and evaluating its 
performance against set goals to assist RITA in better allocating its 
resources to improve performance. 

² common performance measures related to DOT's RD&T activities, which 
should be developed in consultation with the operating administrations. 

² Develop and incorporate the following into RITA's fiscal year 2008 
budget process, the annual budget process thereafter, and the upcoming 
RD&T strategic plan:[Footnote 20] 

² a strategy for identifying and reviewing all of DOT's RD&T projects 
to determine areas of unnecessary duplication, overlap, and 
opportunities for joint efforts. The strategy should address (1) the 
scope of the RD&T projects or programs that will be reviewed for 
duplication or joint efforts, (2) the methodology for how all RD&T 
projects will be reviewed or how duplication or joint efforts will be 
identified, (3) a timeline and the frequency for reviews to occur, and 
(4) how the results of the reviews--the identification of duplication 
or an opportunity for joint effort--will be reported and used to make 
decisions about future RD&T activities. 

² a strategy to ensure that the results of all of DOT's RD&T activities 
are evaluated according to established best practices. This strategy 
should include (1) which RD&T activities of the operating 
administrations RITA will ensure were evaluated according to best 
practices, (2) the methodology for how RITA will ensure evaluation of 
RD&T activities took place according to established best practices, (3) 
a timeline for when the RD&T evaluations should occur, and (4) how the 
results of the RD&T evaluations will inform future research. 

² a DOT-wide database of all of DOT's RD&T projects that will support 
RITA's coordination, facilitation, and review efforts and will assist 
in the implementation of the strategies discussed above. Information on 
the status of these efforts should be included in the upcoming RD&T 
strategic plan to be issued in the fall of 2006. 

² a summary of all of DOT's RD&T program evaluations conducted by the 
department for the past 3 years, including ongoing and completed 
evaluations, and a schedule of future evaluations. 

² a description of RITA's process for systematically evaluating the 
results of its own multimodal research programs and how this process 
will be applied to future multimodal research programs that RITA 
conducts. 

To help ensure that BTS's data products meet the needs of its users, we 
recommend that the Secretary direct the RITA Administrator and BTS 
Director to take the following action: 

² Develop and implement a systematic process for BTS to identify its 
primary users, solicit and incorporate feedback from those users, and 
measure the satisfaction of its users. This process should contain the 
following elements: (1) that primary users of BTS's data products and 
services are identified and documented in a comprehensive manner; (2) 
that feedback on user satisfaction is solicited on a periodic basis 
from those users; (3) that user feedback is documented and evaluated at 
BTS's agencywide level and against established criteria, to ensure 
consistency in decisions about what improvements should be made to data 
products; and (4) that performance indicators that measure data users' 
satisfaction are developed and applied. 

Agency Comments: 

We obtained oral comments on a draft of this report from DOT officials, 
who generally agreed with our findings and recommendations. These 
officials also provided technical clarifications that we incorporated 
into the report, as appropriate. 

We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional 
committees and to the Secretary and other appropriate officials in the 
Department of Transportation. We will also make copies available to 
others upon request. In addition, the report will be available at no 
charge on the GAO Web site at [Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staff have any questions regarding this report, please 
contact me at (202) 512-2834 or sciremj@gao.gov. Contact points for our 
Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on 
the last page of this report. GAO staff who made major contributions to 
this report are listed in appendix II. 

Signed by:  

Mathew Scire: 
Acting Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Review of DOT's Research and Innovative Technology 
Administration: 

Review of the Department of Transportation's Research and Innovative 
Technology Administration (RITA): 

Briefing for the Committees on Appropriations U.S. Senate and House of 
Representatives: 

May 30, 2006:  

Briefing Overview:

Introduction and Objectives:
 
Approach: 

Background: 

Results of GAO Work: 

Introduction: 

In fiscal year 2005, the Department of Transportation's (DOT) research, 
development, and technology (RD&T)[Footnote 21] budget totaled 
approximately $1.1 billion. RD&T activities are vital to meeting DOT's 
key transportation priorities, including safety and mobility. 

Prior to 2005, DOT's Research and Special Program Administration (RSPA) 
was responsible for overseeing DOT's RD&T activities, the Office of 
Hazardous Materials Safety, and the Office of Pipeline Safety. 

GAO and others have raised concerns about RSPA-for example, GAO made 
several recommendations in a 2003 report to improve RSPA's coordination 
and evaluation of DOT's RD&T activities. 

In November 2004, the Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs 
Improvement Act (P.L. 108-426) dissolved RSPA and created two new 
administrations: 

* the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). The 
Mineta Act transferred the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) 
and the Office of Intermodalism to RITA. 

* the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which 
includes the Office of Pipeline Safety and the hazardous materials 
safety activities that were formerly in RSPA. 

Objectives: 

In response to a mandate from the Senate and House Appropriations 
Committees, GAO addressed the following questions: 

1. How, if at all, do RITA's responsibilities for overseeing DOT's RD&T 
activities differ from RSPA's? 

2. What are RITA's practices for coordinating, facilitating, and 
reviewing RD&T activities and what progress has RITA made in 
implementing GAO's 2003 recommendations? 

3. How does BTS identify its users and monitor how well it is serving 
those users? 

Overall Approach: 

Legislative & Document Review - Reviewed laws and DOT documentation to 
understand RSPA's and RITA's responsibilities and BTS' legislative 
requirements for producing certain data. 

Interviews - Interviewed DOT officials in: RITA, including the RD&T 
Office, BTS, and others; three operating administrations that conduct 
and manage significant research programs, including the Federal Highway 
Administration (FHWA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and 
Federal Transit Administration (FTA); and the Office of the Secretary 
(OST). 

Recommendation Follow-up - Reviewed the extent to which RITA (and RSPA) 
have addressed the recommendations in GAO's 2003 report.[Footnote 22] 

Analysis of selected Bureau of Transportation Statistics' (BTS) 
processes - Analyzed BTS' processes for identifying its data users and 
for monitoring and incorporating feedback on user satisfaction and 
compared those processes to relevant criteria. 

We conducted our work from November 2005 through May 2006 according to 
generally accepted government auditing standards. 

Results in Brief: 

RITA took over RSPA's responsibilities for overseeing DOT's RD&T 
activities. While RITA continues to have a similar mission and 
strategic objectives as RSPA, it still does not have the authority to 
direct changes in the operating administrations' RD&T activities. RITA 
differs from RSPA in several ways-RITA intends to focus significantly 
more resources in fiscal year 2007 on the oversight of DOT's RD&T 
activities; RITA's authority for evaluation is less clearly defined; 
and RITA's organizational structure is more multi-modally focused. 

RITA coordinates, facilitates, and reviews DOT's RD&T activities 
through multiple groups and practices, including its two coordinating 
bodies-the RD&T Planning Council and the RD&T Planning Team-and budget 
reviews, among others. Of the five recommendations GAO made in 2003 on 
how to improve the coordination and evaluation of RD&T activities, RITA 
has partially implemented four of the recommendations and has not 
implemented the other. 

BTS does not have a systematic process in place for identifying its 
users, soliciting on-going feedback from all its major users, and 
determining whether or how that feedback should be incorporated. 

Background: RITA's legislative responsibilities: 

The Norman Y. Mineta Act lays out five broad responsibilities for RITA: 

Coordination, facilitation, and review of DOT's research and 
development programs and activities; 

Comprehensive transportation statistics research, analysis, and 
reporting; 

Advancement, and research and development, of innovative technologies, 
including intelligent transportation systems; 

Education and training in transportation and transportation-related 
fields; and: 

Activities of the Volpe National Transportation Center, which conducts 
a range of transportation research and development projects on a fee- 
for-service basis. 

Background: Scope of RITA's authority: 

RITA's Office of RD&T is responsible for "coordinating, facilitating, 
and reviewing" DOT's RD&T activities. 

According to the Norman Y. Mineta Act, RITA's scope of authority 
includes coordinating, facilitating, and reviewing all of the 
Department's RD&T programs and activities, with one exemption-RITA was 
not given any authority over the research and other programs, 
activities, standards, or regulations administered by the National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

* The exemption does not apply to NHTSA's activities already in effect 
on November 30, 2004, the date of the Mineta Act's enactment. 

* Officials in RITA's Office of RD&T told us that in spite of the NHTSA 
exemption in the Mineta Act, NHTSA voluntarily participates in all of 
RITA's coordination, facilitation, and review activities. 

Background: DOT's RD&T budget: 

Nearly all RD&T budget authority resides in the operating 
administrations, such as FHWA and FAA. RITA's RD&T budget in fiscal 
year 2005 was about $1.9 million and its enacted budget in fiscal year 
2006 is about $2.5 million. 

Figure: DOT's RD&T Budget: 

[See PDF for Image]

Source: GAO analysis of DOT budget data. 

Background: BTS' mission and legislative requirements: 

The mission of BTS-a principal federal statistical agency established 
in 1992-is to develop high quality transportation data and information 
and advance the use of this data and information in both public and 
private transportation decision-making. 

BTS' legislative requirements in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, 
Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) 
(P.L. 109-59) include, among others: 

* Coordinating collection of information with the operating 
administrations within DOT and with other federal agencies; 

* Issuing guidelines for the collection of statistical information by 
DOT; 

* Reviewing and reporting on the sources and reliability of the 
statistics proposed by the operating administrations as requested by 
the Secretary; and: 

* Submitting to the President and Congress a Transportation Statistics 
Annual Report (TSAR). 

Objective 1: Similarities between RITA and RSPA: 

RITA, like RSPA before it, has the responsibility to oversee DOT's RD&T 
activities but does not have the authority to direct changes in the 
operating administrations' RD&T activities, including budgetary 
changes. 

RITA's mission, like RSPA's before it, is focused on using research to 
meet DOT's goals, including enhancing transportation safety and 
efficiency. 

Two of RITA's three strategic goals--providing research and analytical 
capabilities dedicated to furthering DOT's mission and promoting 
multimodal, cross-cutting transportation technologies and innovations 
are similar to RSPA's goals. RITA's third strategic goal is to ensure 
the effectiveness of the public investment in transportation RD&T. 

Differences between RITA and RSPA: RITA intends to focus significantly 
more resources on its oversight of DOT's RD&T activities: 

RITA's fiscal year 2007 budget request proposes a new program-the 
Transportation Futures and Applied Technology Program-to undertake 
certain oversight and coordination activities, and also continues 
RITA's existing RD&T Coordination program. If enacted, funding for 
these two programs would result in an overall increase of about $2 
million over the enacted fiscal year 2006 budget for RD&T Coordination- 
from $536,000 in fiscal year 2006 to about $2.5 million in fiscal year 
2007-although the Transportation Futures and Applied Technology Program 
also funds activities other than coordination.[Footnote 23] 

According to senior DOT officials in OST and RITA, although the 
Transportation Futures and Applied Technology Program and the RD&T 
Coordination program were listed as separate programs in DOT's 2007 
budget request, DOT views them as one unified program, with the intent 
that the Transportation Futures and Applied Technology Program will 
build on and enhance the existing RD&T Coordination program. A 
significant element of the funding request for the Transportation 
Futures and Applied Technology Program is to enable RITA to have access 
to highly skilled, specialized technical experts that RITA views as 
critical to enhancing its ability to effectively coordinate, 
facilitate, and review DOT's RD&T activities and enable RITA to more 
fully participate in strategic planning, priority setting, and decision-
making related to those activities. Further, both programs are 
requesting funding to support intermodal and interagency teams that are 
working to better leverage research results and advance the 
collaborative integration and deployment of new technologies. 

The presentation of RITA's fiscal year 2007 budget request does not 
provide sufficient detail to determine the total amounts of funding 
that RITA is requesting for the two programs since the budget only 
shows the amount of proposed contract dollars for the two programs, 
including $2.2 million for the Transportation Futures and Applied 
Technology Program and $247,000 for the RD&T Coordination program. The 
2007 budget request also shows that RITA is requesting about $5.2 
million for salaries and administrative expenses for all research and 
development activities, but it does not specify what portion of that 
amount will be dedicated to the two programs. 

The amount that RITA requested for its RD&T Coordination Program in 
fiscal year 2007 ($247,000) is less than half of what was enacted for 
those activities in fiscal year 2006 ($536,000). According to the 2007 
budget request, this decrease represents the transfer of cross-modal 
RD&T initiatives from the RD&T Coordination program to the 
Transportation Futures and Applied Technology Program. DOT's 
documentation does not provide a clear cross-walk showing the transfer 
of all the cross-modal initiatives from one program to the other. 
However, a senior official in OST told us that DOT plans to review all 
of its cross-modal initiatives as part of the Transportation Futures 
and Applied Technology Program for the purpose of re-focusing them to 
ensure they are addressing the most important DOT-wide research 
priorities. 

Differences between RITA and RSPA: RITA's authority for evaluation is 
less clearly defined: 

RSPA had both legislative and departmental responsibility for 
evaluating DOT's RD&T programs; specifically RSPA was required to: 

* measure the results of federal transportation research activities and 
how those activities impact the performance of the surface 
transportation systems of the United States[Footnote 24] and: 

* oversee DOT's RD&T programs and develop more efficient, effective, 
and participative ways to evaluate and measure program effectiveness 
and progress across all operating administrations and other selected 
projects.[Footnote 25] 

RITA does not have the same legislative responsibility for evaluating 
DOT's RD&T programs because SAFETEA-LU removed the statutory 
responsibility for evaluation activities that had been specifically 
outlined for DOT, which DOT delegated to RSPA. 

RITA officials told us that their interpretation of "review" authority 
under the Norman Y. Mineta Act is that RITA is not required to evaluate 
RD&T activities to determine whether they are achieving intended goals, 
although RITA is not explicitly prevented from evaluating such 
activities. 

Differences between RITA and RSPA: RITA's organizational structure is 
more multi-modally focused: 

The organizational structure of RITA is more multi-modally focused 
because the Office of Pipeline Safety and hazardous materials safety 
activities were moved to a new administration-the Pipeline and 
Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)-and the remaining and 
new program offices-BTS and the Office of Intermodalism-now within 
RITA, all have a multi-modal focus. 

Figure: RSPA versus RITA: 

[See PDF for Image]

[End of figure] 

Objective 2: RITA's Coordination, Facilitation, and Review Practices: 

RITA's Office of RD&T coordinates, facilitates, and reviews DOT's RD&T 
activities through various groups/practices, as summarized below: 

Group / Process: RD&T Planning Council; 
Function: Advises the DOT Secretary on RD&T policies and priorities 
necessary to support the DOT Strategic Plan and Administration and 
Secretarial policy and objectives. Ensures cross-modal collaboration 
and coordination in RD&T initiatives within DOT and with external 
entities. Reports to the Secretary; 
Participants: Operating Administrators, the Undersecretary for Policy, 
OST; Chair, RITA Administrator. 

Group/Process: RD&T Planning Team;
Function: Assists the RD&T Planning Council and the RITA Administrator 
in ensuring cross-modal collaboration and coordination in DOT's RD&T 
initiatives. Assures the application of Administration and Secretarial 
RD&T priorities and policies and guidance from the RD&T Planning 
Council; 
Participants: Associate Operating Administrators for RD&T, OST; Chair, 
RITA's Associate Administrator for RD&T. 

Group/Process: Program Review Working Group; 
Function: Conducts the annual review of modal RD&T programs to ensure 
they are aligned with DOT strategic goals and implement the Office of 
Management and Budget's (OMB) Research and Development (R&D) investment 
criteria.[Footnote 28] Reports to RD&T Planning Team; 
Participants: Operating Administrations' RD&T managers. 

Group/Process: Budget Review; 
Function: RITA's annual assessment of the operating administrations' 
RD&T budget- first performed on fiscal year 2007 budget submissions--to 
ensure alignment with DOT's strategic objectives, Secretarial 
priorities, and cross-modal initiatives and proper application of OMB's 
R&D Investment Criteria; 
Participants: RITA, Operating Administrations, DST's Budget Office.   

Group/Process: University Transportation Centers Program; 
Function: Advances U.S. technology and expertise in transportation 
through the mechanisms of education, research and technology transfer 
at university-based centers of excellence. RITA administers grants 
(mostly legislatively designated) to universities; 
Participants: RITA, Operating Administrations. 

Group/Process: Peer Review Task Force and Steering Committee; 
Function: Coordinates the implementation of OMB's Information Quality 
Bulletin on Peer Review for influential and highly influential research 
(as determined by the agency or OMB) and oversees compliance with these 
requirements. Prepares annual report to OMB; 
Participants: RITA, Operating Administrations' RD&T managers, Data 
Quality experts. 

Group/Process: RD&T Strategic Planning Task Force; 
Function: Develops the details of the RD&T Strategic Plan due to 
Congress in the fall of 2006. The draft plan will be reviewed by the 
National Research Council in June 2006; 
Participants: RITA, Operating Administrations' RD&T managers. 

Group/Process: Various multi-modal RD&T groups managed by RITA; 
Function: Examples include: 
* Hydrogen Working Group which coordinates, facilitates and informs all 
RD&T activities related to hydrogen fueled and fuel cell powered 
vehicles and stationary applications; 
* Center for Climate Change which shares information, builds 
partnerships, and coordinates activities related to climate change;  
Participants: RITA, Operating Administrations' policy and technical 
staff and other representatives.  

Source: GAO analysis of RITA information. 

[End of Table] 

RD&T Planning Council: 

* According to DOT Order 1120.39A, the Planning Council is to meet 
quarterly. The Planning Council has convened three times, most recently 
on May 15, 2006. RITA officials told us the Council expects to meet 
more regularly as it reviews the development of the draft RD&T 
Strategic Plan before it is submitted to Congress-several meetings have 
been scheduled for the summer of 2006. 

* According to the Planning Council's meeting minutes from May and 
June, 2005, the Planning Council reviewed and approved the RD&T budget 
guidance that was distributed to the operating administrations and 
discussed future strategic directions for DOT research, the fiscal year 
2007 RD&T budget submissions, and other topics. 

RD&T Planning Team: 

* According to DOT Order 1120.39A, the Planning Team is to meet 
quarterly, which it has done. The Planning Team has convened four 
times, most recently in February 2006, and another meeting is scheduled 
for May 24, 2006. 

* According to the Planning Team's meeting minutes from June and 
November, 2005 and February, 2006, the Planning Team discussed results 
of RITA's budget review for fiscal year 2007, effects of SAFETEA-LU on 
research programs, and updates on the development of the RD&T strategic 
plan and the University Transportations Centers program. 

Program Review Working Group: 

* Established through a DOT Order that allowed the RD&T Planning Team 
to create ad hoc working groups, this group met nine times during 2005 
and 2006 (as of April). The group provides a forum for the operating 
administrations to share information about areas of research and 
identify opportunities for coordination. The group also schedules 
presentations throughout the year which it shares with the RD&T 
Planning Team. Past presentations have addressed how the operating 
administrations have applied OMB's R&D Investment Criteria to their 
RD&T activities and how the operating administrations' RD&T activities 
support DOT's and the Secretary's strategic priorities. 

Budget Review: 

* In preparation for their first budget review, RITA officials 
developed the 2007 RD&T budget guidance for the operating 
administrations, advising them to include discussions of how their RD&T 
activities are linked to the Secretary's priorities and how they have 
applied OMB's R&D Investment Criteria. This guidance was reviewed by 
the Planning Team, approved by the Planning Council, and distributed by 
OST's Budget Office. 

* The results of RITA's budget review were discussed at the June 2005 
Planning Council meeting. Also, RITA developed recommendations-to DOT's 
Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs/Chief Financial Officer- 
that RITA continue to work with the operating administrations to 
improve the Department's RD&T budget submissions and that RITA develop 
guidance for defining RD&T to ensure consistency in the way that the 
Department classifies and accounts for its RD&T programs.  

Management of the University Transportation Centers (UTC) 
Program[Footnote 29] 

* RITA's RD&T Office manages the UTC program, which was significantly 
expanded by SAFETEA-LU. 

* SAFETEA-LU authorized up to about $76.7 million per year for UTC 
grants during the period from fiscal year 2005 to 2009, an increase of 
about 136 percent compared to the $32.5 million authorized under TEA- 
21. 

* Under SAFETEA-LU, the UTC grants provide funding to establish and 
operate up to 60 UTCs, an increase of about 82 percent compared to the 
33 centers authorized under TEA-21. Twenty of the 60 centers are 
scheduled for competitive selection during 2006, and 40 centers are 
located at institutions named in the legislation. 

To foster a closer connection between UTC research and needs of the 
operating administrations and DOT, RITA hosted a two-day workshop in 
April 2006 where officials from operating administrations made 
presentations on their RD&T activities and DOT's priorities to UTC 
members. RITA officials noted that this is the first of a planned 
series of program meetings, technical workshops, and other outreach 
efforts to increase UTC connections to DOT's RD&T priorities and 
programs. RITA is also working with the operating administrations to 
increase technical oversight of the individual UTCs' selection and 
evaluation processes for research.  

Effects of RITA's coordination, facilitation, and review activities: 

RITA has not established performance goals for its coordination, 
facilitation, and review activities, nor does RITA monitor or evaluate 
the effects of those activities. Also, RITA has not worked with the 
operating administrations to develop common performance measures for 
the Department's RD&T activities. 

* Setting meaningful goals for performance, and using performance 
information to measure performance against those goals, is required by 
the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.[Footnote 30] GAO 
has also reported on key practices-such as defining common outcomes and 
developing mechanisms to monitor, evaluate, and report on results-that 
can enhance and sustain collaboration among organizations that conduct 
cross-cutting activities.[Footnote 31] 

* Establishing performance goals and an evaluation plan for its own 
coordination, facilitation, and review activities could assist RITA in 
identifying any problem areas and better allocating its resources to 
improve performance. Without such goals and an evaluation plan, it is 
difficult for RITA to determine its success in overseeing and ensuring 
the effectiveness of DOT's RD&T activities. Also, without common 
performance measures for the RD&T activities of the operating 
administrations, RITA and the operating administrations lack the means 
to monitor and evaluate the collective results of those activities and 
ensure that they are achieving their intended (or other) results and 
furthering the Secretary's and DOT-wide priorities. 

The RITA Administrator told us that he was open to developing 
performance goals and an evaluation plan for RITA's coordination, 
facilitation, and review activities and to working with the operating 
administrations to develop common performance measures for DOT's RD&T 
activities. 

Although RITA lacks performance goals and measures, officials from the 
three operating administrations we interviewed and from RITA noted some 
positive effects of RITA's efforts: 

* Officials from all three operating administrations told us that 
RITA's Program Review Working Group meetings provide them with 
opportunities to share best practices relating to program management 
issues, such as how to apply the OMB R&D Investment Criteria to RD&T 
activities. An official from one of the operating administrations said 
that RITA has been helpful in trying to strengthen the connection 
between the UTCs and the DOT's RD&T priorities through programs such as 
the 2-day UTC workshop hosted in April 2006. Officials from another 
operating administration told us that RITA has helped them to better 
align their RD&T activities with DOT's and the Secretary's priorities 
by focusing on how their research activities will support DOT's RD&T 
Strategic Plan. 

* Officials from RITA's Office of RD&T believe that RITA's budget 
guidance and review process is helping to ensure that the operating 
administrations have a more consistent approach to show how their RD&T 
activities support DOT's strategic objectives, Secretarial priorities, 
and cross-modal initiatives. One official noted that, over time, this 
process should give RITA the ability to critically review and make 
recommendations to OST on how RD&T activities could better support 
DOT's strategic objectives, Secretarial priorities, and cross-modal 
initiatives. Also, the Program Review Working Group has identified an 
opportunity for FHWA and FAA to coordinate pavement research.  

Follow-up to GAO Recommendations: 

In 2003, GAO made five recommendations to DOT and RSPA to improve the 
coordination and evaluation of RD&T activities. 

The recommendations generally remain relevant for RITA. 

RITA has partially implemented four recommendations and has not 
implemented one recommendation. RITA has made progress, but much 
remains to be done for RITA to fully implement the recommendations. 

Recommendation 1: Develop a strategy for reviewing all DOT research 
projects to identify areas of unnecessary research duplication overlap, 
and opportunities for joint efforts. 
* Include time frames for implementing this review and discuss the 
development and implementation of a DOT-wide research tracking system 
database. 
* Incorporate the results of this effort into DOT's annual research 
plan and report to Congress on an annual basis. 
* Include time frames for implementing this review and discuss the 
development and implementation of a DOT-wide research tracking system 
database. 
* Incorporate the results of this effort into DOT's annual research 
plan and report to Congress on an annual basis. 

Status: Partially Implemented: 
* RITA has not developed a strategy to review all DOT research projects 
to identify areas of unnecessary research duplication overlap and 
opportunities for joint efforts, although they have taken some action, 
as discussed below. RITA officials told us that they expect to identify 
such areas through the coordination and review activities of the RD&T 
Planning Council, RD&T Planning Team, and the Program Review Working 
Group. However, although the DOT Order that created the RD&T Planning 
Council, Planning Team, and indirectly the Program Review Working 
Group, lays out as part of its purpose the responsibility to prevent 
unnecessary duplication of RD&T efforts in DOT, none of these groups 
has developed a strategy that describes (1) the scope of the RD&T 
projects or programs that will be reviewed for duplication or joint 
efforts, (2) the methodology for how all research projects will be 
reviewed or how duplication or joint efforts will be identified, (3) a 
time line and frequency for the review to occur, and (4) how the 
results of the review-the identification of duplication or an 
opportunity for joint effort-will be used to make decisions about 
future RD&T activities.  

* A RITA official told us that the research tracking system database 
was dropped from DOT's priorities after the creation of RITA; however, 
RITA's proposed Transportation Futures and Applied Technology Program 
includes the development of a Web-based database for DOT's RD&T 
programs. RITA has not yet established a catalog of all the research 
activities within DOT. Without such a catalog, DOT officials do not 
have readily accessible data on research activities throughout DOT. 

* While the results of RITA's coordination and review activities are 
discussed during Planning Team meetings, the results are not reported 
to Congress because RITA is no longer required to submit an annual RD&T 
plan to Congress. RITA officials told us that they plan to report these 
results annually in the DOT Performance Plans and Reports required by 
SAFETEA-LU. This reporting is expected to begin in Fiscal Year 2008, as 
the first reporting against the new RD&T Strategic Plan. 

* Without such a strategy-supported by a comprehensive database of 
ongoing RD&T projects-RITA is unable to ensure that areas of 
unnecessary research duplication, overlap, and opportunities for joint 
efforts are systematically identified and managed. 

Recommendation 2: Develop and apply quantifiable performance measures 
to assess the effectiveness of research coordination efforts and 
document the results of these efforts in DOT's annual research plan. 

Status: Not Implemented: 

* DOT and RSPA did not concur with this recommendation in 2003, citing 
their views that: (1) the most useful and effective performance 
measures focus on results, while coordination is a process; (2) there 
are no performance measures capable of quantifying effective 
coordination; and (3) existing coordination processes have been 
effective in preventing unnecessary research duplication. 

* RITA officials also told us that they did not develop performance 
measures to assess the effectiveness of research coordination effort 
because they do not believe that a metric approach is well suited for 
assessing the effects of the coordination process. 

* While RITA officials told us that they have not developed or applied 
performance measures for coordination, they indicated their willingness 
to develop--in concert with the operating administrations-common 
performance measures for DOT's RD&T activities. 

Recommendation 3: Develop a strategy to ensure that the results of all 
DOT's transportation research activities are evaluated according to 
established best practices. 
* Include estimates of the costs for ensuring that evaluations are 
completed. 
* Incorporate the results of these efforts in DOT's annual research 
plan and report to Congress on an annual basis. 

Status: Partially Implemented: 

* RITA officials have not developed a strategy to ensure that the 
results of all DOT's RD&T activities are evaluated according to 
established best practices, although they have taken some action. 

* RITA officials have told us that they ensure the evaluation of RD&T 
activities by reviewing the operating administrations' application of 
OMB's R&D Investment Criteria-relevance, quality, and performance- 
through its budget review process. According to RITA officials and OMB 
documents, the R&D Investment Criteria are rooted in best practices and 
include peer review as a mechanism for assessing program quality. 

* GAO has recognized peer review as a best practice for evaluating RD&T 
activities.[Footnote 32] However, under RITA's review of the 
application of the R&D Investment Criteria--which includes information 
about whether peer reviews occurred--RITA officials do not verify that 
peer review activities actually took place within the operating 
administrations. 

* RITA has not developed a strategy that describes (1) which RD&T 
activities of the operating administrations RITA will ensure were 
evaluated according to best practices, (2) the methodology for how RITA 
will ensure evaluation of RD&T activities took place according to 
established best practices, (3) a time line for when the RD&T 
evaluations should occur, and (4) how the results of the RD&T 
evaluations will inform future research. Since RITA has not developed 
this strategy, it has not estimated costs for ensuring that evaluations 
are completed nor were the results of these evaluations reported in 
RITA's annual research plan, which it is no longer required to publish. 

* Without such a strategy, RITA is unable to ensure the quality and 
effectiveness of the RD&T activities and investments and determine 
whether they are achieving their intended (or other) goals. 

Recommendation 4: Include in DOT's annual research plan a summary of 
all research program evaluations conducted and a schedule of future 
evaluations. 

Status: Partially Implemented: 

* RSPA, for one year, published a summary of all research program 
evaluations conducted, in that it published the results of its review 
of the operating administrations' application of OMB's R&D Investment 
Criteria in its fiscal year 2005 annual RD&T plan. A schedule of future 
evaluations was not included in this plan. 

* Since RSPA was dissolved, RITA has not continued to publish the 
results of its reviews of the operating administrations' application of 
OMB's R&D Investment Criteria because SAFETEA-LU no longer requires 
RITA to submit an annual research plan. 

* Publishing a current inventory of the evaluation of research 
activities and a schedule for future evaluations on a regular basis 
could provide continuity and context for the observations about 
research results and planned research for future years. 

Recommendation 5: Document RSPA's process for systematically evaluating 
the results of its own multi-modal research programs, and apply this 
process to any future multimodal research programs that RSPA conducts. 

Status: Partially Implemented: 

* RITA has not documented its process for systematically evaluating the 
results of its own multi-modal research programs, or how this process 
would apply to any future multi-modal research programs that it 
conducts, although RITA has taken some action, described below. 

* RITA manages multi-modal RD&T activities, such as the Hydrogen Safety 
Program and various grant programs in SAFETEA-LU delegated to it by 
DOT. According to a RITA official, RITA oversees contracts and 
evaluates the results of RD&T activities that are conducted under these 
contracts through the peer review process. RITA has not documented its 
process for conducting these peer reviews and it is unclear whether the 
peer review process will be applied to future multi-modal RD&T 
activities. 

* Without systematically evaluating program results, RITA is limited in 
its ability to determine the extent to which its multi-modal RD&T 
programs are achieving their intended (or other) goals. 

Objective 3: BTS' process for identifying its users is not systematic: 

BTS does not have a systematic process, but uses a variety of methods, 
for identifying specific users of BTS information. 

BTS officials told us they primarily rely on a Congressional definition 
of broad categories of data users, contained in SAFETEA-LU. This 
definition states that users of BTS information include the Federal 
government, State and local governments, metropolitan planning 
organizations, transportation-related associations, the private sector 
(including the freight community), and the public. 

BTS officials told us that they identify specific users through a 
variety of methods such as: 

* Conferences, focus groups, and training sessions; 

* Meetings of professional associations; 

* Direct inquiries via the BTS Web site, in the form of email, letters, 
and telephone; and: 

* News media citations--tracked by RITA's Office of Governmental, 
International and Public Affairs--that mention BTS data. 

BTS does not track specific users nor does it have information on the 
overall number of users of its data products. According to one BTS 
official, the reason for this is because it is very difficult to track 
individual users, other than through Web site hits and tracking the 
number of publications ordered. Also, the official mentioned BTS is 
limited in its ability to collect information on individual data users 
due to privacy concerns. 

Without a systematic process for identifying primary users for each of 
its programs, BTS cannot solicit feedback from these users on an 
ongoing basis. 

Examples of BTS data users: 

Table: Examples of users of BTS information: 

BTS Data Users: Department of Transportation;  
Data product used and for what purpose: 
* DOT's Office of the Secretary uses BTS airline data to determine 
eligibility for the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, monitor the 
impact of airline service on the traveling public, negotiate 
international air service agreements, and provide oversight of the 
airline industry. 
* The Federal Highway Administration uses Commodity Flow Survey data in 
its Freight Analysis Framework, a departmental planning tool. 
* DOT's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) uses data collected by 
BTS for the Confidential Close Call Reporting System Demonstration 
Project to help FRA and railroad carriers identify safety issues that 
require corrective action. 

BTS Data Users: Other Federal agencies; 
Data Product used and for what purpose: 
* BTS worked with the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis 
to develop a Transportation Satellite Account, which enhanced the 
measurement of transportation's contribution to the Gross Domestic 
Product. 
* The Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security 
Administration used BTS' Omnibus Survey Program data on the amount of 
baggage brought to airports. 

BTS Data users: Policymakers; 
Data product used and for what purpose: 
* BTS is developing capital stock values (a commonly used economic 
measure of the capacity of the transportation system) for airports, 
waterways, and transit systems for use by policymakers to better 
estimate the amount of investment needed to accommodate current or 
future levels of traffic on those modes. 

BTS Data users: Planners; 
Data product used and for what purpose: 
* States use National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) data for transit 
planning; Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) use NHTS data for 
highway planning. 

Source: GAO analysis of BTS information. 

[End of Table]

BTS' methods for soliciting feedback on user satisfaction is not 
systematic: 

BTS' process for soliciting feedback on user satisfaction is not 
systematic, but BTS officials reported using a variety of methods for 
soliciting feedback from its users, including: 

* Data users' meetings and workshops held at conferences or training 
sessions, and focus groups conducted with BTS data users; 

* BTS' Reference Services, which tracks and responds to user feedback; 
and: 

* Independent third party reviews of its programs. 

In the past, BTS systematically solicited feedback on overall customer 
satisfaction of BTS' products and services through its Customer 
Satisfaction Survey. BTS conducted the last such survey in 1998. 

Also, in the past, BTS solicited feedback via comment cards, inserted 
in data products. According to BTS officials, the survey and comment 
cards are no longer used as methods for soliciting feedback as a result 
of restrictions stemming from the Privacy Act and Paperwork Reduction 
Act (PRA). BTS officials told us they are working with RITA's Chief 
Counsel's office to reinstitute the use of comment cards. 

Without a systematic process for soliciting feedback on user 
satisfaction from its users, BTS cannot ensure that it is has a full 
picture of the needs of those users and how well it is meeting those 
needs, which, in turn, hinders BTS' ability to make improvements to 
data programs that are relevant to users. 

Examples of how BTS has solicited feedback from users: 

Table: Examples of how BTS has solicited feedback from users. 

How BTS Solicited user feedback on user satisfaction: Data users’ 
meetings and workshops held at conferences or training sessions; 
Examples of How Feedback on user solicitation was solicited for 
specific BTS programs: 
* In 2005, BTS engaged freight data users at a Commodity Flow Survey * 
Conference for input on changes needed in BTS’ freight data collection.
* In 2004, BTS engaged users of travel data for their input into 
current uses of existing data and future data needs.  The results of 
this data user’s meeting were published in Data for Understanding Our 
Nation’s Travel: National Household Travel Survey Conference. 

How BTS Solicited user feedback on user satisfaction: BTS Reference 
Services; 
Examples of How Feedback on user solicitation was solicited for 
specific BTS programs: BTS’ National Transportation Library Reference 
Services Desk tracks and responds to inquiries received by email via 
BTS’ Web site or by telephone. 

How BTS Solicited user feedback on user satisfaction: Independent third 
party reviews; 
Examples of How Feedback on user solicitation was solicited for 
specific BTS programs: 
* In 2003, BTS asked the Transportation Research Board and Committee on 
National Statistics of the National Academies to conduct a review of 
its major survey programs, including the (1) National Household Travel 
Survey, (2) Omnibus Survey Program, and (3) Commodity Flow Survey.
* In 1999, BTS contracted with an external group to conduct focus 
groups with congressional staffers, DOT employees, transportation 
statistics experts, and employees of non-profits or associations in the 
transportation field to (1) gain feedback on BTS’ publications and 
services and (2) gather insight about how to improve these tools for 
the end user.

Source: GAO analysis of BTS information. 

[End of Table]  

BTS' method for incorporating feedback on user satisfaction is not 
systematic: 

BTS relies on its program managers, who are responsible for managing a 
data collection program and its associated data products, to determine 
how best to address feedback from users in identifying areas of 
improvement and taking steps to address product weaknesses. 

According to BTS officials, program managers use their professional 
judgment and consider such factors as time and resource constraints 
when deciding whether to incorporate feedback from users in taking 
steps to improve their data products. BTS officials told us that 
program managers are not required-and often do not-report the results 
of how feedback on user satisfaction was considered and whether 
improvements to the data product were made. 

GAO's Internal Control standards suggest that on-going monitoring 
should take place to ensure that users are satisfied and that policies 
and procedures should be in place to ensure that feedback is evaluated 
so that improvements can be made. 

Without policies and procedures in place for incorporating feedback on 
user satisfaction, BTS cannot systematically consider feedback and use 
it to make improvements to data products. 

BTS' performance measures: 

BTS reports that it measures the overall degree to which products and 
services are useful and responsive to the needs of users by tracking 
two performance indicators-the number of congressional and governmental 
agency contacts regarding BTS information and the average number of 
daily unique visitors to the TranStats data Web site:[Footnote 33] 

* BTS reports that the number of congressional and governmental agency 
contacts has increased each year, from 84 requests in 2002, to 287 in 
2005. BTS officials attribute this increase to their responsiveness to 
inquiries and they told us that the increase indicates that BTS is 
providing Congress and agencies with information that they need, and 
that they find BTS to be a reliable source. 

* BTS reports the average number of daily unique visits to the 
TranStats data site has increased from 565 in 2003, to 813 in 2005. 
According to BTS officials, this indicates that the information is 
useful and that awareness among current and potential new BTS data 
users is increasing. 

We note, however, that these indicators are simple counts and not 
measures of user satisfaction with BTS information. 

DOT's Perspective on Key Issues Related to RITA: 

We met with senior DOT officials-including the Department's Chief of 
Staff, the Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs and Chief 
Financial Officer, the RITA Administrator, and other officials-to 
discuss the factual information presented in these slides. These 
officials agreed with the information, providing clarifications, which 
we incorporated as appropriate. 

These officials said that their vision is for RITA to play a key role- 
in concert with the operating administrations-in shaping the future of 
DOT's RD&T activities, although they believe that RITA will need 
significant additional resources, especially technical experts, to 
achieve this vision. They said that OST will rely heavily on input from 
RITA's Planning Council in making its decisions related to the RD&T 
budget requests from the operating administrations. They also said that 
OST will look to RITA to play a lead role in helping realign the 
Department's RD&T activities to focus more closely on key cross-modal 
transportation issues facing the nation, including congestion, 
alternative fuels, freight capacity, and other issues. 

Next Steps: 

Prepare final slides, with a short summary of results, for publication 
as a GAO report. 

Determine if committee staff want any additional work on RITA. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Mathew Scire, (202) 512-2834 or sciremj@gao.gov: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the contact named above, key contributors to this report 
were Rita Grieco, Assistant Director; Ashley Alley; Carl Barden; 
Christine Bonham; Elizabeth Curda; Michelle Dresben; Colin Fallon; 
Richard Hung; Sara Ann Moessbauer; Susan Ragland; April Thompson; 
Deborah Winters; and Dorothy Yee. 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] OMB Circular No. A-11 (2005) defines research and development 
activities to include "work undertaken on a systematic basis … to 
increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture 
and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new 
applications." DOT defines technology to include demonstration projects 
and other related activities associated with research and development 
activities. 

[2] GAO, Transportation Research: Actions Needed to Improve 
Coordination and Evaluation of Research, GAO-03-500 (Washington, D.C.: 
May 1, 2003). In this report, GAO uses the broad term "research" to 
refer to DOT's research, development, and technology activities. 

[3] PHMSA includes the Office of Pipeline Safety and the hazardous 
materials safety activities formerly in RSPA. 

[4] H.R. Rep. No. 108-749 (2004). 

[5] Taken together, the RD&T budget authority for these three operating 
administrations accounted for over 80 percent of DOT's total RD&T 
budget authority in fiscal year 2005. 

[6] In RITA's fiscal year 2007 budget request, the amount RITA 
requested for its RD&T Coordination Program ($247,000) is less than 
half of what was enacted for those activities in fiscal year 2006 
($536,000). According to the 2007 budget request, this decrease 
represents the transfer of multimodal RD&T initiatives from the RD&T 
Coordination Program to the Transportation Futures and Applied 
Technology Program. DOT's documentation does not provide a clear 
transfer of all of the multimodal initiatives from one program to the 
other; however, DOT officials told us that they plan to review all of 
the department's multimodal initiatives as part of the Transportation 
Futures and Applied Technology Program. As of June 2006, the House 
Committee on Appropriations denied RITA's request for $2.2 million for 
the Transportation Futures and Applied Technology Program, saying that 
RITA should develop a more robust level of in-house RD&T expertise 
before it relies on outside contractors for multimodal research 
coordination and analysis. The House Committee on Appropriations also 
provided $540,000 for RITA's ongoing RD&T Coordination Program. 

[7] Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), formerly 
codified in 23 USC 508. Pub. L. No. 105-178, 112 Stat. 107 (1998). 

[8] Pub. L. No. 109-59, 119 Stat. 1144 (2005). 

[9] Individual transportation modes include mass transit systems, 
roads, aviation, maritime, and railroads. RITA and its program offices 
oversee and conduct RD&T and statistical activities that apply to more 
than one mode of transportation. 

[10] The Program Review Working Group reports to the RD&T Planning Team 
and provides a forum for the operating administrations to share 
information about areas of research and identify opportunities for 
coordination. 

[11] OMB developed the R&D Investment Criteria--relevance, quality, and 
performance--for all types of research and development programs across 
all agencies to assist in budget allocation decisions and to 
demonstrate results. 

[12] Pub. L. No.103-62, 107 Stat. 285 (1993). 

[13] Use of performance goals can help ensure that programs are meeting 
their intended goals, allows programs to assess the efficiency of their 
processes, and promotes continuous improvement. Where activities may be 
fragmented or overlap, performance information can also help identify 
performance variations and redundancies and lay the foundation for 
improved coordination, program consolidation, or elimination of 
unneeded programs. GAO, Managing for Results: Using the Results Act to 
Address Mission Fragmentation and Program Overlap, AIMD-97-146 
(Washington, D.C.: August 1997). 

[14] GAO, Managing for Results: Enhancing Agency Use of Performance 
Information for Management Decision Making, GAO-05-927 (Washington, 
D.C.: Sept. 9, 2005). 

[15] GAO-03-500. 

[16] Strategies help align an agency's activities, core processes, and 
resources to support achievement of the agency's strategic goals and 
mission. GAO, Results-Oriented Government: GPRA Has Established a Solid 
Foundation for Achieving Greater Results, GAO-04-38 (Washington, D.C.: 
Mar. 10, 2004). 

[17] In the past, BTS systematically solicited feedback on overall 
customer satisfaction of BTS's data products and services through its 
Customer Satisfaction Survey. BTS conducted the last such survey in 
1998. Also, in the past, BTS solicited feedback via comment cards, 
inserted in data products. According to BTS officials, the survey and 
comment cards are no longer used as methods for soliciting feedback as 
a result of restrictions stemming from the Privacy Act and the 
Paperwork Reduction Act. BTS officials told us they are working with 
the Chief Counsel's office at RITA to reinstitute the use of comment 
cards. 

[18] Required by SAFETEA-LU, the TranStats data Web site contains 
hundreds of transportation-related databases and is made available to 
the public on BTS's Web site. 

[19] GAO, Internal Control Management and Evaluation Tool, GAO-01-1008G 
(Washington, D.C.: August 2001). 

[20] The following five recommendations reiterate and expand on four of 
the five recommendations GAO made to RSPA in 2003, with the exception 
of the recommendation on quantifiable performance measures for RD&T 
coordination, which DOT did not concur with, as previously discussed.  

[21] OMB Circular No. A-11 (2005) defines research and development 
activities to include "work undertaken on a systematic basis . to 
increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture 
and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new 
applications." DOT defines technology to include demonstration projects 
and other related activities associated with research and development 
activities. 

[22] GAO, Transportation Research: Actions Needed to Improve 
Coordination and Evaluation of Research, GAO-03-500 (Washington, D.C.: 
May 1, 2003). 

[23] These other activities include conducting technology scans and 
accelerating the deployment of technologies and innovations to users. 

[24] As stated in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21 st Century 
(TEA-21), formerly codified in 23 USC 508. 

[25] DOT policy delegated this responsibility to RSPA.  

[26] Other functions include management and administration, General 
Counsel, Chief Financial Officer, and governmental affairs. 

[27] The Office of Intermodalism is within the Office of RD&T. 

[28] OMB developed the R&D Investment Criteria-quality, relevance, and 
performance-for all types of R&D programs across all agencies to assist 
in budget allocation decisions and to demonstrate results. 

[29] The UTC program was initiated in 1987 under the Surface 
Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act, which authorized 
the establishment and operation of transportation centers in each of 
the ten federal regions. The Intermodal Surface Transportation 
Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) reauthorized the UTC program for an 
additional six years and added four national centers and six University 
Research Institutes. 

[30] Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 285 (1993). Under GPRA, federal 
agencies are required to develop strategic plans, performance plans, 
and performance reports that set long-term and annual goals along with 
the means for accomplishing the goals and report on achieving them. 

[31] GAO, Results-Oriented Government. Practices That Can Help Enhance 
and Sustain Collaboration among Federal Agencies, GAO-06-15 
(Washington, D.C.: October 21, 2005). 

[32] GAO, Highway Research: Systematic Selection and Evaluation 
Processes Needed for Research Program, GAO-02-573 (Washington, D.C.: 
May 24, 2002). Peer review includes an independent assessment of 
technical and scientific merit or quality and is considered appropriate 
for all RD&T programs. 

[33] Required by SAFETEA-LU, the TranStats data web site contains 
hundreds of transportation-related databases and is made available to 
the 34 public via BTS' Web site. 

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