Centering Equity at the U.S. Department of Transportation
For the first time, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has centered Equity as a Department-wide strategic goal via its FY 2022-2026 Strategic Plan. This is a critical step to institutionalizing equity across the Department’s policies and programs, with the aim of reducing inequities across our transportation systems and the communities they affect.
As part of this process, the Department has committed to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other performance goals to measure progress toward our strategic Equity goal within our four strategic objectives: wealth creation, power of community, interventions, and expanding access. The Department’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Performance Plan and FY 2022 Performance Report describes these performance goals as well as the associated metrics. The 12 performance goals associated with the strategic goal of Equity span the four strategic objectives. One measure, direct contract/procurement dollars to small and disadvantaged businesses, appears in more than one goal. The following is a list of the performance goals organized by the Equity strategic objective with the associated metrics below:
- Reduce National Transportation Cost Burden by 5%, Including Transportation Travel Cost as a Percent of Income, by 2030
- Increase the Number of State Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Report Submissions in eCivil Rights Connect
- Increase U.S. DOT Direct Contract Dollars to Small Disadvantaged Businesses from 18.2% in FY 2021 to 22% by FY 2026
- Increase the Percentage of Total Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Direct Procurement Dollars Awarded to Small Disadvantaged Businesses
- Increase Number of State DOTs Adopting and Implementing Identified Best Practices When Administering the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program on Design-Build Projects
- Increase the Total Federal Transit Grant Dollars Announced or Allocated for Rural or Tribal Areas
- All 50 State DOTs and Top 100 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) Adopt a Quantitative Equity Screening Component to Their Statewide/Transportation Improvement Program (S/TIP) Development Processes by 2030
- Increase the Percentage of Community Outreach Activities Directed Toward Underserved Communities to Increase Hazmat Transportation Awareness, Preparedness, and Response
- By 2025, Increase by 5% the Number of U.S. DOT Discretionary Grant Applicants from Disadvantaged Communities who have Never Applied for U.S. DOT Funding Before
- Utilize the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to Assess and Strengthen Civil Rights Program Capacity, Coordination, and Outcomes, Including Fully Implementing DOT’s New Title VI Order, Phased to Meet IIJA Implementation Timelines
- Reduce the Number of Displacements Resulting from Federal-Aid Highway Projects
- Complete Three Projects that Reconnect Communities that were Divided by Transportation Corridors
Related Strategic Goals
In addition to the above performance goals explicitly linked to the strategic goal of Equity, some performance goals tied to other strategic goals also relate to equity. The eight additional equity-related performance goals span three strategic goals: Safety, Climate and Sustainability, and Organizational Excellence. The following is a list of the related equity performance goals organized by the primary strategic goals and objectives with the associated metrics below:
- Reduce the Race Fatality Ratio by Population
- Ensure that the Benefits of At Least 40% of U.S. DOT Investments in the Areas of Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency, Clean Transportation, and the Remediation and Reduction of Legacy Pollution Flow to Disadvantaged Communities
- Work to Increase the Diversity of Applicants for Mission-Critical Occupations in Each Operating Administration
- Increase the Percentage of Large, Cross-Agency Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Aviation and Space Education Outreach Events to Which the Equity Assessment Tool Has Been Applied
- Increase the Percentage of Persons with Disabilities and Persons with Targeted Disabilities in the FAA Workforce
- Increase the Percentage of Supervisors and Managers Who Have Received Training on Unconscious Bias
- Increase the Number of Partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutes
- Increase the Number of Funded Positions Including the Pathways Program and Persons with Disabilities
In addition to setting goals and working towards progress in achieving these goals, the Department also conducts program evaluations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our programs as well as other activities to build evidence for policymaking. Program evaluations follow best practices in considering equity through all stages of the evaluation: design, conduct, analysis, and dissemination of results. In addition, six program evaluations described in the Department’s FY 2025 Annual Evaluation Plan have a particular focus on equity that includes one or more equity-focused evaluation questions: Airport Terminals Program, Federal Highway Administration’s Oversight of State and Local Entities Under the ADA, Effectiveness of State Maritime Academies' Recruitment and Enrollment Strategies, National Impaired Driving Paid Media Campaign, Equity in the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, and Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization Grant Program.
Finally, the Department’s Learning Agenda describes the evidence needs to advance the performance goal of “Work to Increase the Diversity of Applicants for Mission-Critical Occupations in Each Operating Administration.” The following is a list of equity-related questions from the FY 2025 Annual Evaluation Plan and the Learning Agenda that further illustrate the connection between evidence-building activities and advancing equity:
- To what extent were all eligible airport sponsors, including sponsors in disadvantaged communities, made aware of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Terminals Program funding opportunity?
- To what extent did the selected Airport Terminals Program projects indicate improvements in accessibility for persons with disabilities?
- What community engagement and stewardship practices used by Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program grant recipients are effective at increasing the participation of hard-to-access and marginalized groups in transportation planning?
- Does strong, sustained community engagement carried out by Reconnecting Communities grant recipients substantively alter the outcomes of the transportation planning process?
- What is the Federal Highway Administration doing in its ADA oversight that works, and what could the organization do differently to make the program more successful?
- How does recruitment for the State Maritime Academies vary across demographic subgroups and geographic areas?
- How do responses to the messages from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Impaired Driving Paid Media Campaign vary across different demographic characteristics, including age, gender, and race or ethnicity?
- What share of applicants for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization Grant Program came from municipality- or community-owned utilities representing disadvantaged communities?
- What share of economic benefits accrued to disadvantaged communities through the Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization Grant Program?
- What are the demographics of applicant pools for all Department occupations?
Performance management, program evaluation, and evidence-building are not static. The Department continually develops new performance goals and proposes new program evaluations and evidence-building activities to support the achievement of equity and equity-related performance goals and ultimately achieve the strategic goal of Equity.
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