DOT’s Open Government Initiatives and Activities for 2016-2018
Through the process described in Chapter 2, DOT identified fourteen activities, grouped into three initiatives (plus a flagship initiative) for inclusion in the 2016 Open Government Plan. These activities will span 2016, 2017, and 2018 and will further the Open Government goals outlined in Chapter 1. Figure 2 below illustrates how the initiatives map to related activities and when each activity will occur over the next three years.
Figure 2: DOT Open Government Initiatives, Activities and High Level Milestones
- Section 3.1: Open Government 2016 Flagship Initiative
- Section 3.2: Opening Data
- Section 3.3: Engaging the Public
- Section 3.3.1: Encouraging Innovation through Public Engagement
- Section 3.3.2: Improving Access to Custom Software Code
- Section 3.3.3: Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science
- Section 3.3.4: Increasing Local Access to Information on Rail Bridge Inspections
- Section 3.3.5: Furthering Community Engagement
- Section 3.4: Strengthening Open Government Foundations
Section 3.1: Open Government 2016 Flagship Initiative
The Permitting Dashboard (www.permits.performance.gov) is an online tool for federal agencies, project developers and members of the public to track the federal government’s permitting and review process for large or complex infrastructure projects. The Permitting Dashboard website, hosted and managed jointly by the Department’s Office of Transportation Policy and Office of the Chief Information Officer, is one element of a larger, government-wide effort to streamline and increase transparency into the federal permitting and review process.
Historically, the Dashboard simply displayed the data as reported by agencies. The Department continues to improve the Dashboard in accordance with the provisions of the FAST Act. In September 2016 the website will become a truly collaborative portal, allowing federal agencies to report on significant infrastructure projects permitting and review timeline data on a common, government-wide platform. The FAST Act also expanded the scope of projects for which reviews will be accelerated by adding new agencies and infrastructure sectors, and it establishes new procedures that standardize interagency consultation and coordination practices. The new Permitting Dashboard will increase transparency into these accelerated permitting practices by providing a public -facing display of each project’s status.
The goals of the Dashboard are to:
- Increase transparency into review timelines and encourage early coordination and synchronization of agency review schedules
- Provide consistent data on permit and review practices, allowing agencies to identify ways to increase their effectiveness and efficiency
- Assess the progress of the reforms included in the Administration’s Implementation Plan, as well as related legislation, and to identify common external drivers and trends that influence project review processes
- Help agencies track and document improved environmental and community outcomes
- Create a collaborative, user-friendly data entry portal for project sponsors and agencies to enter and track project data
- Be an example of federal best practices for cross-agency data consumption and reporting
As we develop the Permitting Dashboard, the Department continues to seek feedback and engage the public in several ways. Industry stakeholders and the general public were invited to contribute through our engagement dialogue platform. We asked users several questions to improve their experience on the website:
- What content related to the permitting and review of infrastructure projects would be useful to make available?
- What features, functionality, and tools would be useful to add to the site (e.g., an interactive map, data visualizations, and links to agency-specific tools)?
- How might the Dashboard best serve as a one-stop-shop for parties interested in, involved with, or affected by the environmental review and permitting process of major infrastructure projects?
The Dashboard also allows visitors to email the cross-agency Permitting Dashboard team from the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department to ask questions, provide feedback, and request more information.
The Department will measure the Permitting Dashboard’s impact on transparency and collaboration in two key ways. First, the website’s internal metrics will allow the Department and our partners at CEQ and OMB to measure participation levels from agencies across the system. Second, at least five reports will be developed to measure progress, bottlenecks, successes, and other performance based metrics. These metrics will empower the Department, other agencies, Congress, and stakeholders to make informed decisions to improve the overall permitting and review process.
In the future, the Department plans to develop a standard, open API for data access and system interface for external systems. This will allow other agencies to easily integrate with the Permitting Dashboard web reporting portal with minimal integration by the Department. The API (or APIs) will be developed in line with data.gov best practices. Integration of reporting systems will eliminate duplicative work, enabling a more sustainable, lower cost alternative for agencies to maintain permitting process information. The Department will also continue to monitor the site’s internal metrics and user feedback to continue to improve the usefulness of the site to agency users and the public.
DOT will further build collaboration with other agencies as follows:
- At least one external agency’s systems will be integrated into the platform within nine months of launch (June 2017)
- At least three external agencies’ systems will be integrated into the platform over the next two years (September 2018)
Section 3.2: Opening Data
In the President’s Executive Order on making open and machine-readable the “new default” for government data, he noted that “[o]penness in government strengthens our democracy, promotes the delivery of efficient and effective services to the public, and contributes to economic growth.” The DOT believes that open data initiatives improve the effectiveness of transportation decisions by making DOT’s extensive data available and usable to all levels of government, the private sector, and the general public.
Section 3.2.1: Building New Open Geospatial Data Assets
DOT has launched two efforts to build national geospatial data assets by federating and compiling local, open authoritative data sources. By aggregating open, machine-readable data published at the local level, DOT can quickly generate useful geospatial information that can inform policy makers, enhance public safety, and foster innovation.
In the Third Open Government National Action Plan for the United States of America, the Department of Transportation committed to coordinating across the public and private sector; connecting agencies, industry, and innovators to gain consensus on an open standard for publicly available address information and pursuing open data strategies for sharing certain address information while protecting personal privacy. The Department launched a public Web page to document progress on the effort at https://www.transportation.gov/nad. The Federal Geographic Data Committee has designated DOT and the Census Bureau as the address theme leads and the agencies are beginning to formulate a plan of action to develop the national geospatial data asset for addresses. The initial stage pilot is expected to be completed by December 2016. The DOT will continue to report progress on the effort through the National Action Plan progress reports and the National Address Database web site.
DOT is also working to build a national geospatial data asset using authoritative, open, machine-readable data published by transit agencies. In March 2016, Secretary Foxx issued a Dear Colleague letter to transit agencies, requesting their participation in an effort to build a National Transit Map. Transit agencies responded. In September 2016, the Department released the first version of the National Transit Map. This initial release contained contributions from over 200 transit agencies and covered more than 375,000 stops and stations.
- The Department is committed to iterating on the National Transit Map, and expects to release an updated map no later than December 2016.
- Stakeholders expressed concerns that the National Transit Map may not fully represent rural and smaller agencies. The Department is taking steps to provide a capability for those agencies to directly register their open transit data with the Department, with an expected roll out during spring 2017. In the interim, those agencies may contact the Department directly at NationalTransitMap@dot.gov for assistance with completing the registration process.
- The Department will continue to receive feedback on the data and include additional transit agencies as they sign up, anticipating multiple updates during calendar year 2017.
Section 3.2.2: Coordinating Geospatial Data Efforts
Geospatial data management is an area of opportunity for DOT. Many of the Department’s geospatial information programs are fragmented, acquiring data in a siloed manner and developing individualized approaches to disseminating data as well as developing applications to present data to stakeholders and the public. The federal geospatial data community developed new tools to help agencies better manage and disseminate geospatial data and Web services in a manner that facilitates ease of discovery and enables downstream utility. The DOT took advantage of these tools with the following accomplishments and projects:
- Developed and launched the Transportation Theme page on geoplatform.gov: https://cms.geoplatform.gov/a16transportation-home
- Transitioned DOT’s geospatial data delivery functions to the cloud
- Created a “harvest point” for DOT’s geospatial data so that it can automatically feed into the geospatial platform
- Made improvements and launched new tools for pipeline information that supports the public, government officials, inspectors, and pipeline operators
- Made multiple improvements to highway statistics products, including new visualization tools for viewing highway data, studying long-term pavement performance, and forecasting passenger travel
- Updated railroad geospatial products, including trespasser and grade crossing viewers
Over the next two years, the Department intends to build on these efforts through the following initiatives:
- Launch interactive website for mapping and visualizing data from the FHWA Section 1503(c) public reports on Federal-aid project obligations and expenditures (September 2016)
- Update National Pipeline Mapping System Public Viewer and companion PIMMA application for government officials and pipeline operators (September 2016)
- Publication of a DOT Geospatial Strategic Plan, to be released (October 2016)
- FedRAMP authorization of the DOT geospatial cloud platform (December 2016)
- Publication of all DOT geospatial data via Web Feature Services (WFS) via the DOT geospatial cloud platform (December 2016)
- Development of a geospatial page on transportation.gov (December 2016)
- Release current (6 months old) and historic hourly vehicle count data (December 2016)
- Launch interactive Condition and Performance (C&P) website (March 2017)
- Development of DOT’s agency page on geoplatform.gov (March 2017)
- Release iPhone App for NPMS public viewer (December 2017)
- Launch interactive Transportation Performance Management website (September 2018)
Individual Operating Administrations are taking additional steps to increase their transparency and publication of open data. The efforts of two DOT Operating Administrations are highlighted below: the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Administration: PHMSA 2021
PHMSA has developed a new strategic framework called PHMSA 2021 which involves updating and incorporating bold new vision and mission statements that better reflect its focus on innovation, the idea of safety as a shared responsibility, and how essential the agency’s safety mission is to the daily lives of Americans. Among other organizational changes and strategic investments, PHMSA 2021 includes a data assessment to examine the agency’s data and analytic capabilities to improve its ability to analyze and identify industry and market trends, conduct rigorous economic analysis, develop and improve collection of relevant data, model risk, and visualize data. Strengthening these skill sets will allow PHMSA to develop stronger, more economically feasible regulations, move towards more data-driven, risk-based inspection and enforcement approaches, and better communicate with stakeholders through more proactive and targeted outreach, engagement, responsiveness, and transparency.
Federal Aviation Administration: External Data Access Initiative
In 2016, the FAA launched the External Data Access initiative (EDAi) to increase and improve the public's access to FAA data. The intent of this initiative is to spur innovation, provide better opportunities for the development of new applications and services, and ultimately, advance the safety and efficiency of the aviation industry. The first phase of the initiative focuses on the release of the FAA's aeronautical data, including digital downloads of chart and data products, and web services for product and underlying data APIs. Subsequent phases of the initiative will add other FAA data domains, such as safety and flight. More information on the EDAi is available at https://www.faa.gov/got_data/.
The Department of Transportation’s Public Access Plan was issued in response to the February 2013 Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Memorandum entitled “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally-Funded Scientific Research.” This plan sets out a framework for enhancing the tracking of the complete research lifecycle at the project level, from project initiation to the submission of project deliverables, and on to research implementation through the deployment of research outputs and products. It does so by establishing objectives to ensure public access to Publications and Digital Data Sets arising from DOT-managed research and development (R&D) programs by scaling and institutionalizing such intramural and extramural R&D access practices across the Department.
In DOT’s Open Government Plan v3.0, the Department outlined its approach to systematize proactive disclosures. In March 2015, the DOT General Counsel and Chief Information Officer issued a joint memorandum to the Heads of DOT Operating Administrations outlining the requirements for proactive disclosure plans. In May 2016, the Department released each Operating Administration’s proactive disclosure plan. Operating Administrations must implement their plans no later than September 30, 2016. The DOT will continue to monitor implementation and, no later than January 18, 2017, will publicly post an update on the status of implementation.
As part of the Office of the Secretary of Transportation’s proactive disclosure plan, the Department committed to a number of new initiatives designed to facilitate access to open, machine-readable data. These include:
- National Transportation Atlas – an effort to migrate geospatial data to a cloud platform, increasing geospatial analysis capabilities and providing access to data through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
- Visualization Tools – an effort to enhance DOT web capabilities by providing data users with the ability to establish and sustain relationships with datasets that interest them. These tools will also offer the ability to provide the public with specialized dashboards that provide analyses of the most commonly requested DOT data, in a form that is easy to keep up-to-date.
- Data set Management System – an effort to enhance DOT Web capabilities by providing a data catalog with simple visualization capabilities, the ability to for end users to access data in multiple formats, and access to APIs.
DOT will implement these new capabilities as follows:
- Launch data.transportation.gov (September 2016)
- Launch explore.transportation.gov (December 2016)
- Launch maps.transportation.gov (March 2017)
Section 3.3: Engaging the Public
Section 3.3.1: Encouraging Innovation through Public Engagement
As DOT works to increase the amount of data available to the public through the initiative in Section 3.2 of this Plan, we will also seek to engage the public to encourage the application of those data sets to spur innovative solutions.
DOT has launched several key initiatives over the past year which illustrate its commitment for strengthening engagement strategies.
In 2015, DOT released a draft Beyond Traffic Framework identifying challenges and opportunities facing our nation’s future transportation infrastructure. This Framework includes key chapters including “How We Move”, “How We Move Things”, “How We Move Better”, “How We Adapt”, and How We Align Decisions and Dollars”. As a result, DOT engaged thousands of stakeholders across the country to inform a final Framework that is targeted for release in late 2016.
Mayors Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets
One year ago, the Secretary launched a challenge that has resulted in 240 local officials strengthening their efforts for enhancing bicycle and pedestrian safety. As a result, communities across the country are working with local citizens to conduct safety assessments, provide public education, and strengthen related policies.
Smart City Challenge
In 2016, DOT awarded $40 million (funding subject to future appropriations) to Columbus, Ohio to help it define what it means to be a “Smart City” and become the country’s first city to fully integrate innovative technologies – self-driving cars, connected vehicles, and smart sensors – into their transportation network. However, DOT also continues to provide extensive engagement with stakeholders from the 78 applicant cities. Public-private partnerships were also strengthened as a result of this Challenge, as the Department worked with several private companies and foundations willing to provide additional support to the Smart City Challenge finalists and winner.
Every Place Counts Design Challenge
The Ladders of Opportunity Every Place Counts Design Challenge seeks to raise awareness and identify innovative community design solutions that bridge the infrastructure divide and reconnect people to opportunity. Community Teams led by local officials competed to receive on-site technical assistance in a 2-day design session with DOT and experts in the field. The DOT selected four cities to host community visioning sessions in July: Spokane, WA; Philadelphia, PA; Nashvinne, TN; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.
Across the Department, Operating Administrations continue to engage stakeholders in additional topics including accessible air travel for passengers with disabilities, older adult driving, autonomous vehicles, multi-modal freight, workforce skills and training, and other key issues central to advancing mobility across the country.
Section 3.3.2: Improving Access to Custom Software Code
The recently released Federal Source Code Policy promotes the re-use of custom code developed for and by the federal government, and in particular the government-wide use of and contribution to open source software. The policy requires agencies to seek appropriate data rights to custom-developed code and to make their custom-developed code broadly available across the federal government, wherever possible. The policy also requires each agency to publish at least 20% of its custom code as open source software.
In accordance with the policy, the Office of the Chief Information Officer will work with the OAs to develop the Department’s open source code policy. This policy will reflect the requirements of the Federal Source Code Policy, including a commitment to securing data rights for custom code to allow code sharing, as well as a requirement that 20% of all custom code purchased by the Department will be made open source software. The policy will also integrate existing Departmental open source initiatives, such as the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office’s Open Source Application Development Portal.
To achieve this goal, the Department will take the following concrete actions:
- The Department will develop an open source policy in accordance with the Federal Source Code Policy (November 2016)
- The Department will develop a source code management organization structure to manage its custom code. This will include a Department-wide source code repository as well as personnel identified to manage its codebase. (September 2017)
- The Department will document best practices for source code management and contribute its learnings to code.gov (March 2018)
In September 2015, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a memorandum “Addressing Societal and Scientific Challenges through Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing.” Crowdsourcing and citizen science can generate new data and support fresh insights in science, technology, and innovation, while creating new opportunities for Americans to engage with the federal government, including the Department. In accordance with the requirements of the memo, the Office of the Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy will serve as coordinator for crowdsourcing and citizen science within the Department of Transportation and will catalog all citizen science and crowdsourcing projects within the Department on CitizenScience.gov, the General Services Administration’s hub for these projects.
The Department is committed to making sure local communities have the information they need on the structural integrity of all their local bridges and has asked Congress for the resources to develop an open rail bridge database. In the interim, the Department has urged railroads to be more transparent with communities about the safety and structural soundness of their bridges. In December 2015, Congress concurred, including a requirement in the FAST Act that railroads provide, at the request of state or local officials, a report on a bridge’s last inspection. This was one of the first FAST Act provisions that the Department’s Federal Railroad Administration implemented: in February 2016, FRA launched a new website to allow local officials to request bridge information online and receive a report within 45 days. The bridge safety report includes the date of the last inspection; length of bridge; location of bridge; type of bridge (superstructure); type of structure (substructure); features crossed by the bridge; railroad contact information; and a general statement on the condition of the bridge. The Department also remains committed to further increasing public transparency on rail bridge safety.
Through the Department’s Ladders of Opportunity initiative, the Department is working to empower transportation leaders, grantees and communities to revitalize, connect, and create workforce opportunities that liftt more Americans into the middle class. The effort is guided by a vision that contains three principles:
- Transportation connects people to opportunity by providing people with reliable and affordable connections to employment, education, and other essential services.
- While we cannot change the past, we can ensure that current and future transportation projects connect, strengthen and revitalize communities, including areas that have, in the past, been on the wrong side of transportation decisions.
- Transportation facilities should be built by, for and with the communities impacted by them. Development of transportation facilities should include workforce programs that help underserved people find and keep good jobs in the transportation sector.
The initiative is supported by a number of policy solutions and open data tools, including the Transportation and Health Tool, the Location Affordability Index, an updated guide to public involvement techniques for transportation decision-making, and more.
Over the next two years, the Department will take additional steps to advance ladders of opportunity, including:
- Create the Every Place Counts Leadership Academy, a tool to help local residents learn how to engage in the transportation decision making processes in their communities (November 2016)
- Launch a new “Community Connections” initiative in Every Day Counts Round 4 to increase awareness of the role transportation projects can play in supporting community revitalization. Community Connections will promote proven strategies to assess the impacts of transportation infrastructure on communities and further popularize transportation project design methods that prioritize community revitalization. Through this initiative, the Department will work with State and local partners to encourage the use of an array of tools to ensure that transportation projects meet the needs of individual communities and improve connectivity between disadvantaged populations and essential services. (through December 2018).
Section 3.4: Strengthening Open Government Foundations
In addition to the work identified in the previous initiatives, DOT is also taking specific steps to address new and expanded Open Government requirements set forth in the Office of Science and Technology Policy guidance for Open Government plans. This section outlines DOT’s efforts around:
- Improving privacy program transparency
- Protecting whistleblowers
- Implementing the Digital Government Strategy
- Reporting on No FEAR Act Implementation
Section 3.4.1: Improving Privacy Program Transparency
The DOT privacy program carries out the privacy risk management requirements of the Privacy Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), the E-Government Act of 2002 (EGov), the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005, as well as general privacy risk management at DOT. The DOT CIO is the Senior Agency Official for Privacy (SAOP) and operational responsibilities of the SAOP and implementation of the Privacy Act are assigned to the DOT Chief Privacy Officer.
In its mission to ensure a safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life, DOT collects, accesses, and uses significant amounts of data every day. The DOT is committed to appropriately safeguarding all data used in the system development lifecycle, but is especially aware of the risks associated with the collection, use, storage, and sharing of personally identifiable information (PII). It is vitally important that DOT not only protect this information, but ensure that individuals be able to appropriately control the collection, use and sharing of their own PII within DOT systems.
With increased data collection, technology acceleration, and regulatory complexity comes increased privacy risk. The DOT has an obligation to identify, analyze, and mitigate privacy risks across its programs, regulations and systems. The DOT focuses on incorporating proactive risk management into every stage of system and program development. Risk management improves compliance with privacy objectives by raising awareness among employees and leadership regarding the standards for data safety. It institutes frameworks for training, compliance assessment, and vulnerability mitigation.
The DOT is fully committed to protecting the personal privacy of all individuals. Certain privacy protections are stated in law; however, DOT recognizes that compliance with the letter of the law is not enough. DOT has a responsibility to ensure that individuals are treated with fairness and respect. The DOT Privacy Program ensures that, in addition to compliance with the law, the Fair Information Practice Privacy Principles (FIPPs) are integrated into every policy decision and are observed and followed by all DOT employees and contractors. The FIPPs are a widely accepted framework that is at the core of the Privacy Act of 1974 and areare mirrored in other statutes, federal policy and guidance. The FIPPs cover common privacy concerns and provide a universal platform for identifying, assessing, and mitigating privacy risk. The DOT has adopted the FIPPs as its privacy risk management framework and seeks to apply them across the full breadth and diversity of DOT programs and activities.
DOT collects, accesses and uses significant amounts of data every day. The DOT is committed to protecting the safety of all data throughout the system development lifecycle, and is aware of the risks associated with the collection, use, storage, and sharing of PII. To help manage these risks, the SAOP has issued policy and supplemental guidance to ensure that the DOT fulfills its commitments to protect the personal privacy of all individuals.
The DOT posts public notices of information practices and the privacy impact of government programs and activities. Accordingly, DOT is open and transparent about policies, procedures, and technologies that directly affect individuals and/or their PII. Additionally, the Department does not maintain any system of records that isis not known to the public. The DOT privacy impact assessment (PIA) and system of records notices (SORN), as well as other policy documents may be found on the DOT website – https://www.transportation.gov/privacy.
Questions about DOT Privacy issues can be directed to the DOT Privacy Office and the Chief Privacy Officer at email@example.com.
Section 3.4.2: Protecting Whistleblowers
The DOT is committed to adhering to the requirements of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, and the expanded protections provided by the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012. This is accomplished by requiring all DOT Operating Administrations to participate in OSC’s Whistleblower Protection Act certification program. As of August 22, 2016, all DOT operating administrations have completed their certification, and all are complying with the OSC to complete the required OSC Supervisory Training. Updates on the certification status for operating administrations may be found on the OSC website.
Section 3.4.3: Implementing the Digital Government Strategy
The Department has continued to make progress delivering on its Digital Government Strategy commitments. The DOT continues to focus on accessibility issues, implementing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (version 2.0, to the AA success criteria) across its Web sites. In addition, DOT is expanding and improving the use of visualization and mapping capabilities, developing interactive features for items such as the Secretary’s bus tour, TIGER grants and more. The Department will continue to innovate its Web presence and achieve its digital strategy objectives over the coming years. For more information, visit the Department’s digital strategy page at https://www.transportation.gov/digitalstrategy/.
Section 3.4.4: Reporting on No FEAR Act Implementation
The Department seeks to deliver exemplary equal employment opportunity (EEO) programs and lead as a model agency by eliminating the practice and toleration of discrimination and retaliation within the workplace. Responsibility for No FEAR Act Implementation is jointly assigned to the Departmental Office of Civil Rights and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration. DOT’s No FEAR Act data can be accessed at https://www.transportation.gov/civil-rights/reports/docr-reports.