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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES: SECOND REPORT 10 National Commitment Given the ambitious scope of the PNGV program and its decade-long schedule, sustained commitment is needed for success. Significant benefits can be anticipated from the program; notably, in economic competitiveness, increased national security, and improved environmental quality. These benefits will, however, accrue over a long period of time and be widely distributed. For these reasons it is unlikely that any group of constituents will be drawn to develop and sustain support for the program, particularly in the absence of a compelling economic reason to do so. Therefore, the PNGV has an important role to play in building national commitment for the program. The DOC 's PNGV program office has made significant progress in this regard over the past year, expanding its outreach and building support across a number of constituencies. Information presented to the committee at its meeting in Dearborn, Michigan, in August 1995 indicated that USCAR has also made a concerted effort to inform Congress and the public about this program. In the view of the committee, a project of this magnitude and complexity requires sustained public support—based, in part, on tangible results —to succeed. Capturing the public's interest in new technologies to meet future individual driving needs involves establishing public expectations. The committee offers some suggestions for means by which this might be achieved. Perhaps most significantly, the industry partners of the PNGV are well positioned to build public support for this project through advertising. Showcasing the PNGV vehicle—a highly efficient, environmentally friendly car—and its successful development through the duration of the program in a wide array of venues from automobile shows to television to print has potential for increasing public support for the project and developing a market for the ultimate products. PNGV has undertaken a media education effort to build national commitment for the program. The committee commends this response to the recommendation regarding national committment in the Phase 1 report. An
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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES: SECOND REPORT ongoing challenge will be to obtain credit for significant innovations that may be perceived as only loosely associated with the PNGV. A number of channels are being pursued through print and video communications. One such means to educate the media and others is USCAR's publication Dateline 2000. This publication might feature the PNGV in each issue and continue to be circulated to key federal, state, and local policy makers, schools, and universities, as well as to media outlets and suppliers, to build their support and involvement in the project. Another means of media education rests with the government partners. To date, only DOC has pursued media attention in PNGV activities. However, the DOE is the largest participant in terms of research projects, followed by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In the committee's view, increased commitment and visible participation of all the government partners (especially DOE, NSF, DOD, DOT, NASA, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) is needed if the PNGV project is to have a reasonable chance of succeeding. The fact that DOT has decided on a “zero” contribution to PNGV in FY 1996 and that NASA's contributions to the systems analysis work are uncertain beyond FY 1996 suggests a lack of commitment to the program within the administration. The committee noted that strong coordination among public affairs representatives of all participating agencies could be very beneficial to the PNGV program. The single biggest effort to date appears to have come from DOC, and it is not clear that other government departments have been similarly engaged in helping to build and maintain support for the project. In this context, improved federal program management to support the entire program concept would be beneficial in demonstrating a cohesive, well-defined effort. The World Wide Web (WWW) site,1 which has been established on the Internet, is a useful tool for performing public outreach on the program and is a notable PNGV achievement of the past year. Built into this communication device is an allowance for tracking the number of individuals who enter the site, documenting their comments, and identifying their affiliation. Analyzing public input at the WWW site could give the PNGV some understanding of where public support exists, what the criticisms of the partnership are, and how best to respond to public questions and skepticism. Building liaisons with public interest groups that are interested in the outcome of the program and supportive of its success could also be important in gathering public support. As noted in the Phase 1 report, environmental, community, labor, and other related interest groups could be instrumental in advocating the project, which, in turn, could enhance public and policy-maker support for the partnership. 1 The PNGV site can be reached directly at http://picard.aero.hq.nasa.gov/index.html.
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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES: SECOND REPORT The committee noted that there are opportunities for the PNGV partnership to enhance links between the project and the larger transportation community. Expanded participation at meetings of automotive and transportation professionals and policy makers could provide an important outlet for public education and support for the partnership. Such forums might include annual meetings of NRC's Transportation Research Board, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, automotive shows and exhibitions, and other relevant professional and industry meetings. These avenues provide outreach to employees of the U.S. automotive industry and its suppliers and to trade associations and other related groups connected with personal transportation. The committee noted that the success of the PNGV program depends on members of Congress and their staffs being kept fully apprised by the PNGV of the program's process, goals, and status through regularly scheduled briefings and invitations to attend activities and meetings related to the program. In budget hearings, it could be beneficial for the program's leadership to provide a joint presentation on PNGV, not from one agency, but of the entire program from all federal participants. This would ensure that the Congress has the opportunity to review and fund an entire program and would minimize the problems associated with the traditional piecemeal approach, with each department briefing its appropriations committee on its part of the broad program. The current fragmented approach does not permit an integrated approach to understanding the major benefits resulting from meeting the national goals defined in the PNGV program. As indicated by the preceding discussion, opportunities exist for the PNGV to educate the public and policy makers, engage the media, and form liaisons with the public interest community through coordinated policy, outreach, and education efforts. In this context, the committee was encouraged by its observation that, in a number of instances, good working relationships and lines of communication are beginning to be established between the PNGV partners. It appears that the barrier between government and the automotive industry is starting to break down, allowing a fruitful exchange of ideas and resources.
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