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Page 11
Suggested Citation:"3. NEXT REAUTHORIZATION ISSUES." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Research and Technology Coordinating Committee Letter Report: November 9, 2018. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25315.
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Page 11

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11 rebaselining and the development of PRTAs that were distilled from other agency and USDOT strategic documents, can be valuable for identifying research emphasis areas. Their application, however, should be guided at a higher level by a well-defined strategic mission for the RD&T program. For instance, a possible strategic mission of FHWA research is to fill knowledge gaps not addressed by other highway research and to address issues that cut across domains, as in the case of freight, connected vehicles, and urban transportation. Defining that strategic mission is particularly important in an environment where there is little earmarking of research funds but also smaller budgets that demand well-reasoned programming choices. In future meetings, RTCC would be interested in having a dialogue with the RD&T leadership team about the program’s strategic mission. Another topic that has come up in previous meetings and that becomes even more important when RD&T funding levels are constrained is the creation of partnerships to coordinate and leverage research resources. During the summer meeting, the committee was impressed by the description of the work being furthered by FHWA’s partnerships, particularly in the realm of automated and connected vehicles. The committee observes, however, that such research partnership and coordination opportunities may exist within the USDOT modal agencies themselves, such as with FTA, and with other federal departments such as USDOE. During its December 2017 meeting at TFHRC, RTCC first raised the idea of getting a firsthand look of some of the research being sponsored and conducted by FHWA’s sister agency, FTA. Aware that FTA has a similar TRB/National Academies committee called TRAC, RTCC members inquired about the possibility of a joint meeting. The discussions at the summer meeting and the emphasis placed on leveraging research partnerships convinced RTCC members that this would be a productive course. Given the potential for wider partnerships and future leveraged resources, joint meetings may offer significant future potential to better coordinate research across the transportation sector. NEXT REAUTHORIZATION ISSUES Associate Administrator Kalla asked RTCC to consider emerging issues that could inform the administration’s and Congress’s plans for the next reauthorization of the surface transportation program, which is due in 2020. Since the last reauthorization and its run-up in 2015, RTCC has identified a number of issues in letter reports that committee members do not want to lose sight of, such as FHWA’s ability to further the implementation of results from the second Strategic Highway Research Program and to provide the national perspective needed to ensure standardization of vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity. The development of partnerships, as advised in this letter report, would seem to be a critical step in furthering such capabilities and outcomes. Although RTCC did not have the time at its most recent meeting to give focused attention to the issues that should inform reauthorization, it would welcome the opportunity to do so in a full-length report developed and issued during 2019.

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Research and Technology Coordinating Committee Letter Report: November 9, 2018 Get This Book
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A November 9, 2018 report from TRB's Research and Technology Coordinating Committee (RTCC) to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides the committee’s reaction to the methods used by the Office of Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T) for ensuring strategic research, evaluating the impact of its research projects, and developing and leveraging research and technology partnerships. The report also describes the agency’s Exploratory Advanced Research program, research on rural highway and freight-related topics, and partnerships on automated and connected vehicles.

The RTCC’s charge is to monitor and review FHWA’s research and technology activities and to provide strategic, policy-level advice on topical priorities, processes, and strategies to accelerate the adoption of innovation. In this capacity, it advises the agency on setting a research agenda and coordinating highway research with states, universities, and other partners; strategies to accelerate the deployment and adoption of innovation; and areas where more research may be needed.

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