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Institutionalizing Equity

Institutionalizing Equity

Institutionalizing Equity is one of the five pillars in the 2023 update of the DOT Equity Action Plan.  Read more about the pillar, metrics for measuring progress toward it, and highlighted actions below.

Green icon symbolizing institutionalizing equityOutcome

Continuously provide resources to embed equity, civil rights, and social justice initiatives into the Department’s decision-making processes—including meaningful public involvement—and ensue that equity is a core part of the Department’s mission and culture.

Image of people sitting and standing on stage at the Equity summit.


  • All DOT Operating Administrations (OAs) have adopted an equity analysis process throughout their program offices to increase meaningful public involvement in DOT-conducted virtual engagements by 2024.
  • All DOT OAs have well-resourced Equity Teams led by career members of the Senior Executive Service who champion, coordinate, resource, and implement the OA’s equity mission by 2024.
  • DOT staff in key job functions, including and outside civil rights offices, have the core competencies and executive sponsorship to incorporate equity into their daily work by 2024.

Barriers to Equity

Limited Equity Expertise 

  • Equity is relatively new as a priority focus for DOT at a level of a Department-wide strategic goal. Many staff have limited experience and expertise applying an equity lens to their work. It can be challenging to access outside expertise through formal mechanisms such as contracting, hiring, and advisory groups.

Federated Organization

  • DOT consists of nine modal OAs and multiple Secretarial offices with different statutory authorities, processes, and cultures. DOT’s workforce is also geographically distributed across many regional offices nationwide. This can make it hard to drive consistent practices, for equity and other areas, across the Department’s policies and programs. 

Assessing Meaningful Public Involvement 

  • Measuring the effectiveness of public involvement is challenging and time-consuming for DOT, as it is for our grantees and interagency partners. Practical methods that have been developed to evaluate the success of public involvement activities have not yet been applied at large scale. 
  • Building contact lists inclusive of underrepresented communities, including members of the public as well as representatives of non-profits, companies, and state, local, and Tribal governments, takes time. 

Image of an equity conference where there is a speaker's face on-screen and other participants talking to the speaker while on stage.

Evidence Base to Support Strategy

  • The Department’s career equity leaders, first designated in 2022, self-assessed their organizations as between the “foundational” and “building” phases of institutionalizing equity, meaning program offices are just starting to understand how equity initiatives can benefit communities, and they are seeking ways to incorporate equity into their work.


Building foundation diagram


Actions Timeline
Launch internal community of practice to drive adoption of meaningful public involvement practices across the DOT workforce.

October 2023

Kick off annual Equity Action Plan update process in consultation with the public.

March 2024

Receive public recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Transportation Equity (ACTE) on the Department’s equity work.

June 2024
Ensure DOT supervisory and executive employees are meaningfully trained on equity and civil rights. July 2024
Host Town Halls across the country to engage geographically diverse members of the public on priority transportation topics and policies.

September 2024

Read the Institutionalizing Equity Handout.

Have an idea to help advance transportation equity? Want to partner on one of these actions? Email us at to share your thoughts.


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