The top priorities at DOT are to keep the traveling public safe and secure, increase their mobility, and have our transportation system contribute to the nation's economic growth.
DOT employs almost 55,000 people across the country, in the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) and its operating administrations and bureaus, each with its own management and organizational structure.
Maritime Administration (MARAD)
Leadership of the DOT is provided by the Secretary of Transportation, who is the principal adviser to the President in all matters relating to federal transportation programs. The Secretary is assisted by the Deputy Secretary in this role. The Office of the Secretary (OST) oversees the formulation of national transportation policy and promotes intermodal transportation. Other responsibilities range from negotiation and implementation of international transportation agreements, assuring the fitness of US airlines, enforcing airline consumer protection regulations, issuance of regulations to prevent alcohol and illegal drug misuse in transportation systems and preparing transportation legislation.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversees the safety of civil aviation. The safety mission of the FAA is first and foremost and includes the issuance and enforcement of regulations and standards related to the manufacture, operation, certification and maintenance of aircraft. The agency is responsible for the rating and certification of airmen and for certification of airports serving air carriers. It also regulates a program to protect the security of civil aviation, and enforces regulations under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act for shipments by air.
The FAA, which operates a network of airport towers, air route traffic control centers, and flight service stations, develops air traffic rules, allocates the use of airspace, and provides for the security control of air traffic to meet national defense requirements. Other responsibilities include the construction or installation of visual and electronic aids to air navigation and promotion of aviation safety internationally. The FAA, which regulates and encourages the U.S. commercial space transportation industry, also licenses commercial space launch facilities and private sector launches.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) coordinates highway transportation programs in cooperation with states and other partners to enhance the country's safety, economic vitality, quality of life, and the environment. Major program areas include the Federal-Aid Highway Program, which provides federal financial assistance to the States to construct and improve the National Highway System, urban and rural roads, and bridges. This program provides funds for general improvements and development of safe highways and roads.
The Federal Lands Highway Program provides access to and within national forests, national parks, Indian reservations and other public lands by preparing plans and contracts, supervising construction facilities, and conducting bridge inspections and surveys. The FHWA also manages a comprehensive research, development, and technology program.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000, pursuant to the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 [Public Law No. 106-159, 113 Stat. 1748 (December 9, 1999)]. Formerly a part of the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.
Administration activities contribute to:
- Ensuring safety in motor carrier operations through strong enforcement of safety regulations, targeting high-risk carriers and commercial motor vehicle drivers.
- Improving safety information systems and commercial motor vehicle technologies; strengthening commercial motor vehicle equipment and operating standards
- Increasing safety awareness.
To accomplish these activities, the Administration works with Federal, state, and local enforcement agencies, the motor carrier industry, labor safety interest groups, and others.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) promotes safe and environmentally sound rail transportation. With the responsibility of ensuring railroad safety throughout the nation, the FRA employs safety inspectors to monitor railroad compliance with federally mandated safety standards including track maintenance, inspection standards and operating practices.
The FRA conducts research and development tests to evaluate projects in support of its safety mission and to enhance the railroad system as a national transportation resource. Public education campaigns on highway-rail grade crossing safety and the danger of trespassing on rail property are also administered by FRA.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) assists in developing improved mass transportation systems for cities and communities nationwide. Through its grant programs, FTA helps plan, build, and operate transit systems with convenience, cost and accessibility in mind. While buses and rail vehicles are the most common type of public transportation, other kinds include commuter ferryboats, trolleys, inclined railways, subways, and people movers. In providing financial, technical and planning assistance, the agency provides leadership and resources for safe and technologically advanced local transit systems while assisting in the development of local and regional traffic reduction.
The FTA maintains the National Transit library (NTL), a repository of reports, documents, and data generated by professionals and others from around the country. The NTL is designed to facilitate document sharing among people interested in transit and transit related topics.
The Maritime Administration (MARAD) promotes development and maintenance of an adequate, well-balanced, United States merchant marine, sufficient to carry the Nation's domestic waterborne commerce and a substantial portion of its waterborne foreign commerce, and capable of serving as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency. MARAD also seeks to ensure that the United States enjoys adequate shipbuilding and repair service, efficient ports, effective intermodal water and land transportation systems, and reserve shipping capacity in time of national emergency.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. NHTSA sets and enforces safety performance standards for motor vehicles and equipment, and through grants to state and local governments enables them to conduct effective local highway safety programs. NHTSA investigates safety defects in motor vehicles, sets and enforces fuel economy standards, helps states and local communities reduce the threat of drunk drivers, promotes the use of safety belts, child safety seats and air bags, investigates odometer fraud, establishes and enforces vehicle anti-theft regulations and provides consumer information on motor vehicle safety topics.
Research on driver behavior and traffic safety is conducted by NHTSA to develop the most efficient and effective means of bringing about safety improvements. A toll-free Auto Safety Hotline, 1-888-DASH-2-DOT, furnishes consumers with a wide range of auto safety information. Callers also can help identify safety problems in motor vehicles, tires and automotive equipment such as child safety seats.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) oversees the safety of more than 800,000 daily shipments of hazardous materials in the United States and 64 percent of the nation's energy that is transported by pipelines. PHMSA is dedicated solely to safety by working toward the
elimination of transportation-related deaths and injuries in hazardous materials and pipeline transportation, and by promoting transportation solutions that enhance communities and protect the natural environment.
The Research & Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) is an agency whose mission is to identify and facilitate solutions to the challenges and opportunities facing America's transportation system. RITA's focus is to promote transportation research that will foster the use of innovative technology. RITA includes the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, an organization dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness, efficiency, and responsiveness of other Federal organizations with critical transportation-related functions and missions. With responsibility for research policy and technology sharing, the agency partners with national and international organizations and universities.
RITA also includes the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Transportation Safety Institute and the University Transportation Centers program.
The Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) operates and maintains a safe, reliable and efficient waterway for commercial and noncommercial vessels between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. The SLSDC, in tandem with the Saint Lawrence Seaway Authority of Canada, oversees operations safety, vessel inspections, traffic control, and navigation aids on the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
Important to the economic development of the Great Lakes region, SLSDC works to develop trade opportunities to benefit port communities, shippers and receivers and related industries in the area.
The Surface Transportation Board (STB) is an independent, bipartisan, adjudicatory body organizationally housed within the DOT. It is responsible for the economic regulation of interstate surface transportation, primarily railroads, within the United States. The STB's mission is to ensure that competitive, efficient, and safe transportation services are provided to meet the needs of shippers, receivers, and consumers. The Board is charged with promoting, where appropriate, substantive and procedural regulatory reform in the economic regulation of surface transportation, and with providing an efficient and effective forum for the resolution of disputes.
The Board continues to strive to develop, through rulemakings and case disposition, new and better ways to analyze unique and complex problems, to reach fully justified decisions more quickly, to reduce the costs associated with regulatory oversight, and to encourage private-sector negotiations and resolutions to problems where appropriate.