Last Friday, the Small Business Administration announced that, in Fiscal Year 2013, the federal government reached a key goal for the first time in eight years, with agencies awarding 23.5 percent of their contracts to U.S. small businesses.
Here at DOT, we're proud to be a leader among those agencies, earning a grade of "A+" on our annual Small Business Procurement Scorecard. In fact, we nearly doubled the federal average by awarding more than 43 percent of our procurement contracts to small businesses.
Secretary Foxx and OSDBU Director Brandon Neal with small business executives
Much of the credit for this achievement goes to our Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), which provides a range of support to help small businesses compete more effectively within the transportation industry. As OSDBU Director Brandon Neal said, "It's one thing to say that small businesses are America's 'engines of growth' and 'job creators;' it's another to give those economic engines the opportunity to do what they do best. We're happy to have been able to do that year after year..."
Last week – just hours before we were scheduled to begin cutting transportation funding to states – Congress found a way to postpone the immediate crisis, and extend transportation funding ten more months, until next May.
While we at DOT are glad to avoid those painful cuts, we –along with thousands of commuters, construction workers, freight shippers and manufacturers– know that it’s still not the long-term solution that America’s transportation system really needs.
If you agree, then I want you to join me this Wednesday, August 6, at 1:00pm Eastern time for my GROW AMERICA National Town Hall...
I enjoyed my visit this week to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture air show. Events like AirVenture help us reconnect with the wonder of flight. I met with dozens of enthusiasts who share a passion for exploring the skies and a commitment to improving their skills as pilots. I even helped assemble the "One Week Wonder," a Zenith CH 750 Cruzer that will be built in a week!
I enjoyed my conversations with pilots, who are never shy about sharing their opinions. We talked about third class medical certificates and streamlining the certification process. We discussed the importance of reducing the fatal accident rate and engaging pilots in the Got Weather safety campaign. And I was proud to I deliver the message that NextGen is now for general aviation...
The good news is that Congress has avoided bankrupting the Highway Trust Fund. The bad news is that there is still no long-term certainty, and this latest band-aid expires right as the next construction season begins.
It is encouraging that the Senate voted earlier this week to act on a long-term transportation bill this year, and I hope that they will continue working toward that goal. While Congress may be able to wait until May, the country cannot. Americans deserve a multi-year transportation bill that provides the certainty that businesses and communities deserve, creates jobs, and makes necessary policy updates to lay the foundation for lasting economic growth.
To that end, I will be convening a nationwide virtual town hall on transportation in August to bring together business leaders, transportation advocates, state and local government officials, and everyday Americans who are concerned with the future of America’s transportation infrastructure. Together, we will keep working for a long-term solution by engaging people throughout America to prompt Congress to act.
As part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing initiative to reduce energy use, pollution, and waste --as well as saving taxpayer dollars!-- in Federal operations, agencies like DOT are required to release annual updates that show significant progress toward aggressive energy and sustainability goals. Last Friday, all Federal agencies did just that, and DOT is proud to say that, under the leadership of Secretary Foxx, we have continued to make significant improvements in our operations, and we now are exceeding many of the goals set by the President in 2009.
It might surprise Fast Lane readers to learn that agency improvements in energy efficiency and reductions in cost and waste can make a big difference, but they do. For example, the 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from Federal facilities since 2008 is the equivalent of permanently taking 1.8 million cars off the road. That's roughly the same number of cars registered in the entire state of Alabama.
At DOT, we've achieved outcomes similar to other agencies, and sometimes even surpassed them. Since 2008, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 29.2 percent exceeding the national federal facilities average...
Summer is supposed to be a time of fun and freedom for children. But, too often during the summer months, a child left alone in a vehicle dies due to heatstroke. Already this year 19 children have died due to heatstroke; that's in addition to the 44 children killed in 2013.
So today, as we did last year, we’re asking everyone on Twitter and Facebook to help spread our lifesaving message as part of Heatstroke Awareness Day...
Earlier today, I had the pleasure of joining Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn and several other dignitaries at a ribbon cutting ceremony for Shop #3 at the Nippon Sharyo plant in Rochelle, IL. As the name indicates, this is the third expansion at this plant since 2012. Very soon, workers will start building 130 new, next-generation rail cars for California and the Midwest that are funded through our High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program.
Not that long ago, Shop #3, as well as Shops #1 and #2, were empty fields. Now, because of the Obama Administration’s investments in passenger rail, our Buy America program, and the hard work of so many, I was able to spend the day touring a state-of-the-art U.S. railcar manufacturing plant. What’s more, we’re rejuvenating a manufacturing industry that had gone fallow. New skilled workers are arriving, equipment and material being delivered, high-tech machines whirring and in the near future…shiny new rail cars will be rolling out the door.
It’s exciting for Rochelle, important for Illinois and historic for the Nation...
The Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Control Specialists manage the safest, most efficient airspace system in the world - ensuring 50,000 flights take off and land safely every day. It takes a dedicated, professional workforce to maintain this level of excellence, which is why I am pleased to announce that the FAA has extended tentative offer letters to 1,600 candidates to join this proud team as the next group of Air Traffic Control Specialists. The first training classes for this group will start at the Academy in September.
I could not be more excited about this new class of promising candidates. This next generation of air traffic controllers is special because this February, we instituted an interim hiring process that was open to all Americans. This allowed the FAA to recruit even more of the best, most qualified candidates to keep our skies as safe as possible from a pool of 28,000 applicants...
Yesterday, Secretary Foxx wrote about the Washington Metro's new Silver Line that, "connecting thousands of residents and visitors with major employment, education and economic opportunities," is a significant investment in the community's future. And last week, the Federal Transit Administration helped celebrate the launch of another significant investment, Tucson, Arizona’s new Sun Link streetcar service.
It couldn’t have come at a better time. A recent report from Arizona Public Interest Research Group showed that Tucson had a 25% per capita increase in transit ridership over a 5-year period. According to the study, that’s due in large part to population growth in the Sunbelt and an increasing preference for public transit among both seniors and the Millennial generation. All of those factors reflect what we’re seeing nationally: a decline in driving and the highest transit ridership in generations.
Sun Link is a good example of modern streetcar services that are bringing a new transportation option to communities across the country – or in some cases, bringing back an old one...
Like many Americans, when Jesus "Jay" Valentin --a UPS driver-- goes to sleep at night in his New Jersey home, he's got a lot on his mind.
He thinks about tomorrow's deliveries and worries about what the traffic will be like and what the weather will mean for road conditions. He calculates how much next month's mortgage payment will leave his family –his wife Jenny and four kids– for savings. He wonders how he will pay for his daughter Tiffany’s college education –she’s 16 now and thinking towards the future.
Last Friday, I had the chance to meet Jay and some of his coworkers at the UPS hub in Secaucus, NJ. It was an eye-opener in many ways...