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Press Releases :: July 15, 2009

Bill to Update Transportation R&D Clears Subcommittee

(Washington, DC) – Today the Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation approved H.R. 2569, a bill to reauthorize surface transportation research, development, and technology transfer activities.

 
The bill seeks to update research and development (R&D) priorities at the Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). The legislation creates a mechanism for stakeholder input on a surface transportation R&D strategic plan and increases the accountability of research programs at the Department of Transportation and University Transportation Centers. The bill also improves the transparency of Department of Transportation R&D activities, allowing for improved oversight.
 
“We need to establish R&D priorities appropriate for the 21st century, rather than simply continuing programs that were created twenty years ago,” said bill author Subcommittee Chairman David Wu (D-OR). “These programs ensure that research is firmly anchored in the needs of the user community. The bill also sets priorities in areas such as climate impact, green transportation infrastructure, congestion mitigation, and pavement research.”
 
The Committee approved amendments from Subcommittee Chairman Wu and Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Broun (R-GA).
 
Chairman Wu’s amendment makes a technical change and adds a section to reauthorize Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) activities at the Department of Transportation.
 
“This change is consistent with current statutory language and reflects comments received from the Department of Transportation,” said Wu. “The amendment also requires the Administrator to develop performance metrics for deployed ITS projects and assigns to GAO a biannual study to assess how effectively deployed ITS projects are meeting these metrics. This amendment will bring more accountability to a program that has received billions of dollars over the past two decades but, according to GAO and others, has not led to clear, quantifiable results.”
 
The bill does not currently include authorized funding levels for the research programs, but Subcommittee Chairman Wu indicated his intention to establish such levels before the bill reaches the full Committee.  Wu will base the funding levels on those established for the comprehensive surface transportation authorization that is making its way through the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
 
For more information, including on the Committee’s work on transportation, please see the Committee’s website.
 
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