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Office of the Under Secretary for Policy

About Us

The Under Secretary for Policy serves as a principal advisor to the Secretary and provides leadership in the development of policies for the Department, generating proposals and providing advice regarding legislative and regulatory initiatives across all modes of transportation. The Under Secretary coordinates the Department’s budget development and policy development functions. The Under Secretary also directs transportation policy development and works to ensure that the Nation’s transportation resources function as an integrated national system.  By statute, the Under Secretary is third in the Department’s order of succession.

The Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy is responsible for recommending overall surface transportation policy initiatives to the Secretary.  The office coordinates multi-modal initiatives and processes, such as the development of DOT's proposed reauthorization language, and the coordination of the President's Executive Order on streamlining environmental reviews of transportation infrastructure.

The Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs is the principal advisor to the Secretary on domestic and international economic aviation matters and international surface transportation policy and trade.  The Assistant Secretary serves as the Department decision maker in proceedings involving the allocation of international aviation route authority, licensing of air carriers, providing air services to rural communities, and grants of antitrust immunity for international aviation alliance activities.  In addition, the Assistant Secretary leads the Department’s efforts on international cooperation, export promotion and trade facilitation in transportation.

The Assistant Secretary for Multimodal Freight is responsible for developing and managing the national freight strategic plan and the National Multimodal Freight Network, overseeing the development and updating of the State freight plans; administering multimodal freight grant programs and establishing procedures for analyzing and evaluating applications for grants under those programs; assisting States in the establishment of State freight advisory committees and multi-State freight mobility compacts; and providing to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics input regarding freight data and planning tools.

The National Surface Transportation and Innovative Finance Bureau: Build America Bureau (OST-Z) develops Department-wide policies to improve transportation infrastructure financing and project delivery, administers the Department’s transportation investment credit and Private Activity Bonds (PABs) programs, develops new initiatives to facilitate public and private financing mechanisms and alternative investments, and analyzes the cost effectiveness of new and alternative approaches.  While advising the Secretary and leadership on all aspects of infrastructure investment, including public-private partnerships and concession agreements, the Bureau works to ensure that DOT meets established financial management goals and complies with pertinent legislation and directives.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research & Technology (OST-R) strengthens research and technology initiatives across all operating administrations. The Office ensures that the Department’s innovation priorities and policies are implemented across the Department and leads a range of cross-modal research initiatives to address strategic goals Department-wide. OST-R also leads and administers the Department’s multimodal statistics and data programs and oversees the work of related fee-for-service organizations. To better coordinate research across the Department, the FY 2020 budget continues to reflect that OST-R is relocated under the Office of the Under Secretary for Policy. Additional information about OST-R’s budget can be found under the Research and Technology section of this budget.


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