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Draft DOT Strategic Plan FY 2014-2018

Draft FY2014-18 Strategic Plan [Read the plan]

  1. Executive Summary [Read the chapter]
  2. General Comments [Read the chapter]
  3. Safety goal [Read the chapter]
  4. State of Good Repair goal [Read the chapter]
  5. Economic Competitiveness goal [Read the chapter]
  6. Livable Communities goal [Read the chapter]
  7. Environmental Sustainability goal [Read the chapter]
  8. Organizational Excellence goal [Read the chapter]
  9. Security, Preparedness, and other supporting objectives [Read the chapter]


A global leader in transportation, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) plays a critical role in providing safe, secure, and reliable transportation to all Americans. Our mission is to:

Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible, and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.

Much has changed in our society during the past four and a half decades, but our mission remains as important and relevant today as it was in 1967 when the DOT was created. In this strategic plan, we imagine what the transportation system can be even as we continue to fulfill the Department’s long-standing mission.


To achieve this mission, we will pursue the following strategic goals during the next four years:

  • SAFETY - Improve public health and safety by reducing transportation-related fatalities and injuries;
  • STATE OF GOOD REPAIR - Ensure the U.S. proactively maintains critical transportation infrastructure in a state of good repair;
  • ECONOMIC COMPETITIVENESS - Promote transportation policies and investments that bring lasting and equitable economic benefits to the Nation and its citizens;
  • LIVABLE COMMUNITIES - Foster livable communities by integrating transportation policies, plans, and investments with coordinated housing and economic development policies to increase transportation choices and access to transportation services for all users; and
  • ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY - Advance environmentally sustainable policies and investments that reduce carbon and other harmful emissions from transportation sources.


We have adopted strategic objectives for each of our five mission-oriented goals. In addition, we have adopted objectives for our Organizational Excellence goal and important supporting objectives that we share with other federal agencies. This framework of strategic goals and objectives on the following pages are the linchpin between the DOT strategic plan, annual performance plan, and budget, as well as other Departmental and Operating Administration plans.

Safety - Improve public health and safety by reducing transportation-related fatalities and injuries.

Improve the safety of the transportation system by addressing behavioral, vehicle, and infrastructure safety issues through the innovative and effective use of partnerships, programs, and resources.

In 2011, 34,414 people died and more than 2.2 million people were injured in transportation-related crashes and accidents.  Motor vehicle crashes caused 32,367 fatalities, or 94 percent of the total, even though the rate of fatalities per hundred million miles of travel was the lowest ever recorded in the United States.  Distracted driving was a contributing factor in at least 3,331 fatal crashes.  Another 1,213 people died in rail, air, and transit accidents.  We will use our safety programs and regulations for automobiles, airplanes, railroads, trucks, motorcoaches, pipelines, and hazardous materials as effectively as possible to reduce crashes, fatalities, and injuries, and will expand safety oversight to public transit.  We will continue to direct federal resources to address the most serious safety risks and implement program reforms that will advance our safety mission. Between 2001 and 2010, an average of 13 people in the United States died every year in incidents related to the transportation of hazardous material—a rate of one death for every 21 billion ton-miles of hazardous material moved.  In addition to causing deaths and injuries, hazardous material transportation incidents disrupt communities when people are evacuated from their homes, business activity is curtailed, and transportation services are interrupted.  We will continue to develop and encourage the use of safety tools - such as improved data collection, risk management practices, and incident response planning - to prevent, mitigate, and respond to hazardous material transportation accidents.

State of Good Repair- Ensure the U.S. proactively maintains critical transportation infrastructure in a state of good repair.

Maintain or improve the availability, reliability, and performance of the Nation’s transportation infrastructure, equipment, and facilities by ensuring that they are functioning as designed within their useful lives.

Recent reports on the condition of our roadways, bridges, transit assets, and passenger rail facilities reveal that many fall short of state of good repair.  As a result, they compromise the safety, capacity, and efficiency of the U.S. transportation network. As a Nation, we have not adequately maintained our major roadway, transit, and rail systems. However, the federal role in achieving state of good repair varies from mode to mode.  We influence the condition of Federally-funded roadway, transit and airport infrastructure through program guidance and technical assistance provided to State departments of transportation, transit agencies, and airport authorities; through research and development we produce the knowledge, guidance and innovations needed to more effectively address the Nation’s infrastructure challenges. Public transportation systems provide service to tens of millions of Americans daily, especially in our Nation’s largest metropolitan areas.   These major transit systems, some of which are over one hundred years old, suffer from chronic under-investment and less than optimal application of asset management practices.  We need to meet an increasing demand for public transportation and bring transit infrastructure into a state of good repair. We will work in partnership with State departments of transportation, local transit agencies, and other grant recipients to administer Federal transit programs. We will provide financial assistance, policy direction, technical expertise, and grant compliance oversight aimed at improving transit and rail assets. We will work with Amtrak to eliminate the backlog of projects in the U.S. Northeast corridor.

Reduce the costs of sustaining the Nation’s transportation infrastructure, equipment, facilities, and technology by instilling proven asset management practices through partnerships with other governmental agencies and infrastructure owners.

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) requires States to develop and implement asset management plans and performance plans specifically for roadways and bridge infrastructure. MAP-21 also establishes a new National Transit Asset Management System, requiring a strategic approach to asset management by grantees. We will encourage our partners to adopt and use asset management practices through training and technical assistance, research and demonstration projects, and by adopting common performance measures and reporting systems.

Economic Competitiveness - Promote transportation policies and investments that bring lasting and equitable economic benefits to the Nation and its citizens.

Improve the contribution of the transportation system to the Nation’s productivity and economic growth by supporting strategic, multi-modal investment decisions and policies that reduce costs, increase reliability and competition, satisfy consumer preferences more efficiently, and advance U.S. transportation interests worldwide.

Based on current economic and demographic forecasts, it is likely that the movement of people and goods within the U.S. and abroad will continue to increase and the transportation sector will continue to enable economic growth and job creation. The transportation sector contributed approximately $1.466 trillion, or 9.7 percent, to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product in 2011. Our Nation must make strategic investments that enable the movement of people and goods more efficiently with full utilization of the existing capacity across all transportation modes. The cornerstones of this strategy are investments in high-performance passenger rail, the development of a national freight strategy, investments in public transportation, mitigating traffic congestion on our roadways, and implementing NextGen to improve operations and alleviate airport congestion.  In addition, we will strongly encourage State and local government stakeholders to prioritize projects that help achieve economic competitiveness.  

Increase foreign market access and opportunities for American business overseas by eliminating barriers to trade in goods and services; and spur the development of export-related jobs through federal transportation investments, global transportation initiatives, and cooperative research efforts.

The recent trend towards more international movement of people and goods and globalization of markets is expected to continue. This means that there will be continued growth in international air traffic and more goods and services transported from within the country to ports and then across national borders. We will focus on creating new opportunities in foreign markets for U.S. transportation-related goods and services. We will continue our efforts to create a more competitive air transportation system and protect the rights of traveling consumers. We will advance U.S. economic interests in targeted markets abroad in order to create additional transportation-related jobs. Through the development of a National Freight Strategic Plan pursuant to MAP-21, we will focus transportation infrastructure investments on projects that will particularly benefit U.S. exports.

Improve the efficiency of the Nation’s transportation system through transportation-related research, knowledge sharing, and technology transfer.

Transportation research has little value if its technological outcomes are not transferred to those that might apply them. We will facilitate the exchange of knowledge and technologies by streamlining processes for partnership agreements and increasing awareness of commercialization and technology transfer opportunities. We will also pursue additional innovations through international dialogues such as the International Transportation Forum, cooperation agreements with global partners, and international research initiatives.

Foster the development of a dynamic and diverse transportation workforce through partnerships with the public sector, private industry, and educational institutions.

The operation of the Nation’s transportation system depends on a highly skilled and qualified workforce, now and for the foreseeable future. To be successful in addressing unmet infrastructure needs, we will need a broad spectrum of skilled workers. As demand for transportation services increase, both public and private sector transportation organizations face the ever increasing difficulty of finding qualified workers and managers to fill priority occupations. We will collaborate with our partners in government agencies, private and public employers, educational institutions, and workforce and labor organizations to identify and advance career and technical education pathways to transportation jobs, support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and transportation-related academic and certification programs for K-12 students, and improve pathways into various levels of transportation occupations for all segments of the population.

Livable Communities - Foster livable communities by integrating transportation policies, plans, and investments with coordinated housing and economic development policies to increase transportation choices and access to transportation services for all users.

Enhance quality of life in all communities by directing federal investments in infrastructure improvements towards integrated planning approaches that more efficiently meet transportation, land use, and economic development needs.

U.S. transportation investments over the last 50 years have often been poorly coordinated with other investments such as housing and commercial development. These development patterns have provided many American families of all income levels with unprecedented choices in where they can live, and the ability to own a single-family home. However, the reliance on car-dependent, dispersed development is not without costs. For example, the average American adult between the ages of 25 and 54 drives over 12,700 miles per year and the average American household has to spend $7,658 annually to buy, maintain, and operate personal automobiles. Alternatives to auto travel are lacking in many communities. Fewer than one in 20 households are located within a half-mile of rail transit and only 53 percent of Americans have access to any form of public transportation service. We will enhance the economic and social well-being of all Americans by creating and maintaining a reliable, integrated, and accessible transportation network that enhances choices for transportation users, provides easy access to employment opportunities and other destinations, and promotes positive effects on the surrounding community.

Expand convenient, safe, and affordable transportation choices for all by emphasizing greater public engagement, fairness, equity, and accessibility in transportation investment plans, policy guidance, and programs.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in all aspects of life, and applies to all entities, i.e., public or private regardless of funding source. Title II of the ADA applies to the entire operations of all stations in transit systems, airports facilities, intercity rail transportation system, and roadway facilities including sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks. While many entities have developed ADA transition plans, implementation has been slowed by competing priorities for limited funds. We will provide guidance and assistance (and funding, in a limited number of cases) to encourage ADA compliance in existing facilities. Also, we will integrate environmental justice principles into all Department planning and programming, rulemaking, and policy formulation.

Environmental Sustainability - Advance environmentally sustainable policies and investments that reduce carbon and other harmful emissions from transportation sources.

Reduce foreign oil-dependence and carbon emissions through research and deployment of new technologies including alternate fuels, and by promoting more energy-efficient modes of transportation.

The transportation sector accounts for about 70 percent of all petroleum usage in the U.S. Consumption for motor gasoline represents about 46 percent of all petroleum consumed (in Quadrillion BTUs). Most transportation activity is based on fossil fuel consumption, which is the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and about 27 percent of these emissions are due to transportation activities. Passenger cars, heavy and medium duty trucks, and light duty trucks are the source for nearly 80 percent of transportation-related GHG emissions in the U.S. We are working across all modes to improve the energy and environmental performance of the transportation sector. The aviation industry has made significant gains in fuel efficiency, with commercial jet aircraft fuel efficiency improvements of 70 percent over the last 40 years. DOT and the EPA have worked closely with auto manufacturers, the State of California, environmental groups and other stakeholders to promulgate new rules and develop a series of programs to increase fuel economy for the Nation’s vehicle fleet. We will continue to promote the deployment of advanced vehicle technologies, alternatives fuels and alternatives fuels infrastructure where feasible to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of transportation systems, including roadway vehicles, transit systems ships and airport support vehicles.

Avoid and mitigate transportation-related impacts to climate, ecosystems, and communities by helping partners make informed project planning decisions through an analysis of acceptable alternatives, balancing the need to obtain sound environmental outcomes with demands to accelerate project delivery.

Our recent emphasis on ecosystem approaches to determining the environmental impact of transportation projects has promoted broader mitigation and conservation strategies. However, the Nation’s investments in transportation systems and infrastructure will only be sustainable if we more broadly consider the secondary effects of construction and land use. Although transportation projects comply with requirements for management of stormwater runoff, and federal funds are available for restoration activities, more must be done to meet the challenge of reducing transportation’s contribution to water quality problems. We must balance this need against the demand for faster project delivery time, which is often determined by the environmental permitting process. We will work to improve internal project delivery processes and identify opportunities for enhanced interagency harmonization, through continued DOT initiatives, implementing Executive Order 13604 to streamline infrastructure projects, and other related efforts.

Promote infrastructure resilience and adaptation to extreme weather events and climate change through research, guidance, technical assistance, and direct federal investment.

Recent weather events such as Superstorm Sandy, which disrupted major portions of air, roadway, transit, and rail line service in the New Jersey-New York metropolitan region, has prompted us to consider more carefully how we plan, design, and build transportation infrastructure. Superstorm Sandy was the largest tropical storm to impact the Northeast U.S. in recent history. Climate change research predicts that storms will become stronger, so we need to consider climate change impacts and the incorporation of adaptation strategies into DOT planning, operations, policies, and programs so that taxpayer resources are invested wisely and that transportation infrastructure, services and operations remain effective under extreme climate conditions. We will encourage DOT funding recipients to perform climate change vulnerability assessments for their transportation infrastructure and integrate the results into planning their decision-making.

Organizational Excellence Strategic Objectives

Build a capable, diverse, and collaborative workforce of highly-skilled, innovative, and motivated employees by making DOT a workplace of choice through employee empowerment and engagement, learning and development, succession planning, workplace flexibilities, and a healthy and safe workforce.

Our ability to provide transportation programs and services that meet the Nation’s needs depends on excellent management of our organization and resources. We must build a workforce that can meet the challenges of this decade, especially in light of the pending retirement of many of our eligible employees. Retirement eligibility among our employees will continue to increase over the next several years given current workforce demographics. Mastering key competencies and skill sets needed in the future is key to effectively perform our jobs. Succession planning and employee engagement will be critical for retaining or replacing our retiring employees. In addition, hiring and training will become increasingly important. We will implement workforce planning, competency-based hiring, and competency-based training to ensure DOT has a diverse and capable workforce; promote selfless leadership that focuses on performance and thrives on collaboration, while leveraging employee inclusion and engagement; and foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement among our employees.

Advance secure and innovative information systems and technology platforms that protect against cyber threats and support the efficient use of information and data for financial management.

We will provide secure, customer-focused information systems and technology platforms that support the innovative, effective, and efficient use of information and data for the management of all DOT business processes. We will leverage new technologies and ensure contingency plans are in place for our employees to function as a mobile workforce in all situations. We will continue to emphasize the importance of improving our financial management practices by focusing on increased oversight and proper recording of undelivered orders, which are budget obligations that have not yet been fully liquidated by making a final payment. With the large number and dollar value of DOT-funded grants and projects, identifying unused portions of this funding is constant work. By recovering these unused funds, we can make additional monies available to be used for eligible, higher priority projects.

Defense, Preparedness, and Other Supporting Objectives

Mitigate the impacts to transportation due to all hazards by developing effective response planning and training for leaders and responders.

We proactively prepare to use our internal authorities for the safety and resilience of the U.S. transportation systems and support the transportation mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal departments and agencies to improve the security of domestic and intermodal transportation sectors. In addition, DOT collaborates with DHS to strengthen the transportation network and effectively mitigate risk through an integrated systems approach. During a response, we work at various locations including the National Response Coordination Center, Regional Response Coordination Centers, and Joint Field Offices to regulate transportation, manage the Nation’s airspace, and ensure the safety and security of the national transportation systems. We ensure continuity of operations by maintaining emergency preparedness and response capabilities to effectively provide leadership and response to incidents and fulfill all of our commitments. We also provide guidance and technical assistance to localities, State departments of transportation and their first response partners to improve their ability to conduct emergency response.

Meet transportation needs for national security through interagency cooperation with the Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and State and local agencies.

DOT has responsibility for a number of modal emergency preparedness programs that provide the Department of Defense (DOD) and civilian agencies with assured access to commercial transportation during times of national emergency. We will continue to maintain government-owned transportation assets, and provide access to commercial transportation assets for critical support for defense mobility and emergency response; we will maintain steadfast defense readiness across all operating administrations in their respective national security responsibilities through interagency cooperation and drills with the DOD, DHS, and other State and local agencies.

Expand opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses in the transportation sector.

The federal government provides opportunities through its acquisitions to small businesses, which include small disadvantaged, women-owned, veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, and Historically Underutilized Business Zone small business concerns. These small businesses must also have the maximum practicable opportunity to participate in DOT contracts and subcontracts. In compliance with the Small Business Act, we have the responsibility to ensure that small businesses have an opportunity to compete and be selected for a fair amount of the Agency’s contract dollars. We provide various types of assistance to ensure that small businesses have access to transportation-related projects. Through outreach events, we demonstrate a commitment to growing the small business supplier base and increasing their awareness of procurement opportunities.