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THE BUREAU OF TRANSPORTATION STATISTICS PRIORITIES FOR THE FUTURE CONSTANCE F. CITRO AND JANET L. NORWOOD, Editors Panel on Statistical Programs and Practices of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics Committee on National Statistics Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education Transportation Research Board National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1997
NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS · 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. · Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. This study was supported by contract no. CNST- 1-95-06A between the National Academy of Sci- ences and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided sup- port for this project. Library of Congress Cataloging Card no. ISBN 0-309-06404-X Additional copies available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 Call 800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area). This report is also available on line at http://www.nap.edu Copyright 1997 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
PANEL ON STATISTICAL PROGRAMS AND PRACTICES OF THE BUREAU OF TRANSPORTATION STATISTICS JANET L. NORWOOD (Chair), The Urban Institute, Washington, D.C. VINCENT P. BARABBA, General Motors Corporation, Warren, Michigan JAMES T. BONNEN, Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University CAROL S. CARSON, International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C. WILLIAM F. EDDY, Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University EMERSON J. ELLIOTT, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, Washington, D.C. FRANCIS B. FRANCOIS, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington, D.C. ROBERT M. GROVES, Joint Program in Survey Methodology, University of Michigan ROBERT E. MARTINEZ, Secretary of Transportation, Richmond, Virginia MICHAEL D. MEYER, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology PETER L. SZANTON, Szanton Associates, Washington, D.C. CHARLES A. WAITE, CBW Consulting, Falls Church, Virginia JULIAN WOLPERT, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University CONSTANCE F. CITRO, Study Director KAREN R. HUIE, Project Assistant NANCY HUMPHREY, Senior Program Officer MICHELLE RUDDICK, Research Assistant GERALDINE A. TURNER, Research Assistant ALICE J. WATLAND, Senior Program Officer . . .
COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS 1996-1997 NORMAN M. BRADBURN (Chair), National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago JULIE DAVANZO, RAND, Santa Monica, California WILLIAM F. EDDY, Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University JOHN F. GEWEKE, Department of Economics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis JOEL B. GREENHOUSE, Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University ERIC A. HANUSHEK, W. Allen Wallis Institute of Political Economy, Department of Economics, University of Rochester RODERICK J.A. LITTLE, Department of Biostatistics, University of Michigan CHARLES F. MANSKI, Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin WILLIAM NORDHAUS, Department of Economics, Yale University JANET L. NORWOOD, The Urban Institute, Washington, D.C. EDWARD B. PERRIN, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington PAUL ROSENBAUM, Department of Statistics, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania KEITH F. RUST, Westat, Inc., Rockville, Maryland FRANCISCO J. SAMANIEGO, Division of Statistics, University of California, Davis MIRON L. STRAF, Director V
TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 1996-1997 DAVID N. WORMLEY (Chair), Dean of Engineering, Pennsylvania State University SHARON D. BANKS (Vice Chair), AC Transit, Oakland, California BRIAN J.L. BERRY, Department of Engineering, University of Texas at Dallas LILLIAN C. BORRONE, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York, New York DAVID G. BURWELL, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Washington, D.C. E. DEAN CARLSON, Kansas Department of Transportation, Topeka, Kansas JAMES N. DENN, Minnesota Department of Transportation, St. Paul, Minnesota JOHN W. FISHER, Department of Civil Engineering, Lehigh University DENNIS J. FITZGERALD, Capital District Transportation Authority, Albany, New York DAVID R. GOODE, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Norfolk, Virginia DELON HAMPTON, Delon Hampton & Associates, Washington, D.C. LESTER A. HOEL, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Virginia JAMES L. LAMMIE, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., New York, New York ROBERT E. MARTINEZ, Secretary of Transportation, Richmond, Virginia BRADLEY L. MALLORY, Secretary of Transportation, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania MARSHALL W. MOORE, North Dakota Department of Transportation, Bismarck, North Dakota CRAIG E. PHILIP, Ingram Barge Company, Nashville, Tennessee ANDREA RINIKER, Port of Seattle, Seattle, Washington JOHN M. SAMUELS, Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania WAYNE SHACKELFORD, Georgia Department of Transportation, Atlanta, Georgia LES STERMAN, East-West Gateway Coordinating Council, St. Louis, Missouri JOSEPH M. SUSSMAN, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology JAMES W. VAN LOBEN SELS, CALTRANS, Sacramento, California MARTIN WACHS, University of California Transportation Center, University of California, Berkeley DAVID L. WINSTEAD, Maryland Department of Transportation, Baltimore/ Washington International Airport, Maryland ROBERT E. SKINNER, JR., Executive Director v
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Acknowledgments The Panel on Statistical Programs and Practices of the Bureau of Transporta- tion Statistics wishes to thank the many people who helped make possible the preparation of this report. The staff of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) was extremely helpful in providing information about all aspects of the agency's work and out- put, including its programs, services, electronic and printed products, customers, budget, and staffing. We particularly thank BTS director T.R. Lakshmanan for sharing with us his concept of the role of BTS in the U.S. Department of Trans- portation (USDOT) and, in particular, the contribution that BTS can make to useful analysis of transportation data. We are also very grateful for the assistance of Philip Fulton, associate director for statistical programs and services, who served as the panel's project officer and who responded to our numerous ques- tions and requests for information with alacrity and thoroughness. There are many other BTS staff members who made informative presenta- tions to the panel or met with panel members and staff to share their knowledge. In particular, we thank Robert Knisely, deputy director; Rolf Schmitt, associate director for transportation studies; Timothy Carmody, director of the Office of Airline Information; Donald Bright, chief, data administration division, Office of Airline Information; Bruce Spear, assistant director for geographic information services; Robert Zarnetske, assistant director for information technology; Kathleen Bradley, customer services program manager, and Carolee Bush, prod- ucts and services information program manager. We also thank staff of BTS and Ann Lawson and Belinda Bonds of the Bureau of Economic Analysis who pro- vided information on the transportation satellite account. Panel members and staff obtained valuable information from other USDOT . . vat
. . . vile ACKNOWLEDGMENTS statistical units about their programs, resources, and perspectives. We are grate- ful to staff of the following units for the time and information they shared with us: the Safety Data Services Division, Office of System Safety, Federal Aviation Administration; the Statistics and Forecast Branch, Office of Aviation Policy and Plans, Federal Aviation Administration; the Office of Highway Information Man- agement, Federal Highway Administration; the Office of Program Guidance, Fed- eral Transit Administration; the Office of Statistical and Economic Analysis, Maritime Administration; and the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. We thank Mortimer Downey, deputy secretary of transportation, for an in- formative presentation at the first meeting of our panel. Alan Pisarski, long-time transportation consultant, provided the panel with useful background information on the history of statistical programs in USDOT at the same meeting. We are grateful to the staff of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, who provided us with reports of interviews that they conducted with officials in several state transportation departments about their data needs and priorities. (Also participating in these interviews were staff of BTS and the Federal Highway Administration.) We are also grateful to staff in the transportation departments of the states of Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Vermont, who provided information about their participation in the highway data collection programs that are sponsored by the Office of High- way Information Management in the Federal Highway Administration. The Standing Committee on Planning of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, chaired by panel member Robert Martinez, held several meetings in 1996 to discuss BTS's data products and services, the results of which were shared with us. (This committee includes representatives of most state transportation departments.) Our panel study was conducted collaboratively by the Committee on Na- tional Statistics (CNSTAT) and the Transportation Research Board (TRB), and we benefited from the perspectives of both of these units of the National Research Council. Robert Skinner, executive director of TRB, and Miron Straf, director of CNSTAT, briefed the panel at its first meeting on the developments that led to the request for our panel study. TRB staff members Nancy Humphrey and Alice Watland provided able as- sistance to the panel through their active participation in panel meetings and com- ments on drafts of the panel's report. Nancy Humphrey also assisted the panel by obtaining information from the other modal administrations in USDOT about the scope of their statistical operations, staffing, and resource levels. In addition, she briefed the panel about the TRB study that resulted in the report, Datafor Deci- sions (National Research Council, 1992a), which reviewed transportation data needs for national policy making and played a role in the establishment of BTS. Michelle Ruddick, an intern with CNSTAT, prepared a study of nine federal- state data collection programs, including those of the Federal Highway Adminis
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MIX "ration, which provided the panel with useful perspectives. Geraldine Turner, chief economist of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, provided valu- able assistance to panel member Robert Martinez in interviewing staff in the USDOT modal administrations. The panel is grateful to Christine McShane, editor with the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, for fine editorial work and an eagle eye that contributed to the readability of the report. Karen Huie of the CNSTAT staff was an outstanding project assistant for the panel. She made excellent logistical arrangements for the panel' s second, third, and fourth meet- ings, performed admirably in preparing the final manuscript of the report, and contributed to several of the panel's analyses of BTS products, customers, and staff. Agnes Gaskin also assisted the panel by ably arranging for its first meeting. The panel is especially indebted to Constance Citro, senior study director with CNSTAT, who had overall responsibility for the project. Her skills in orga- nizing and guiding our deliberations and the knowledge she imparted from her wide experience with many CNSTAT studies were invaluable to us. We were fortu- nate to have her as study director and to benefit from her talents and experience. Finally, I want to thank the panel members for their generous contributions of time and expert knowledge. They all participated in one or more working groups that the panel established to consider BTS's budget and staffing, data quality standards, transportation data users, data dissemination technology, fed- eral-state transportation data programs, relationships with other USDOT modal administrations, and relationships with other federal statistical and policy agen- cies. The working groups undertook a variety of activities, including interviews with USDOT staff and transportation data users, the commissioning of back- ground papers, and the preparation of position statements and issue papers for consideration by the full panel at its lively and productive meetings. Overall, this was an exceptionally hard-working group of people, who conducted a wide-rang- ing, thorough, and thoughtful assessment of BTS's work to date and priorities for the future. It has been a genuine pleasure to work with them. JANET L. NORWOOD, Chair Panel on Statistical Programs and Practices of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Need for Improved Transportation Statistics, 1 Assessing BTS, 2 Reauthorization, 3 Focusing on Quality, 4 Ensuring Relevance, 5 Building an Agency, 7 1 INTRODUCTION Methods of Study, 10 The Report, 11 A Note on Reauthorization Legislation, 12 2 HISTORY AND ASSESSMENT OF BTS Transportation Data Programs in Historical Perspective, 13 Assessing BTS, 21 Recommendation, 30 3 FOCUSING ON DATA QUALITY Dimensions of Quality, 32 Staffing, 36 Quality Standards, 40 Documenting Data Quality, 46 Data Evaluation and Improvement, 60 Recommendations, 62 x~ 9 13 31
xt! 4 ENSURING RELEVANCE Dimensions of Relevance, 65 A Vision of a Comprehensive Transportation Data System, 66 A BTS Implementation Plan, 68 Ensunng Relevance: Transportation Indicators, 69 Coordination of Data Collection and Filling Gaps, 76 Identifying User Needs, 79 Analysis Programs, 82 Recommendations, 86 BUILDING AN AGENCY Ensunng Independence, 88 Building Trust, 91 Attaining Leadership, 97 Recommendations, 98 ACRONYMS USED IN THE REPORT REFERENCES APPENDICES A THE INTERMODAL SURFACE TRANSPORTATION EFFICIENCY ACT OF 1991: REFERENCES TO THE BUREAU OF TRANSPORTATION STATISTICS B SELECTED STATISTICAL AGENCIES AND PROGRAMS C PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES FOR A FEDERAL STATISTICAL AGENCY: HOW BTS COMPARES D IMPROVING NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION STATISTICS: AIRLINE SAFETY AS A CASE STUDY E DESCRIPTIONS OF CD-ROM PRODUCTS ON THE BTS WEB SITE F INTEGRATING DATA AND FILLING GAPS: THE CASE OF HOUSEHOLD TRAVEL G BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES CONTENTS 64 87 99 102 107 109 116 120 126 131 138 141
THE BUREAU OF TRANSPORTATION STATISTICS PRIORITIES FOR THE FUTURE