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Mar 9 -- The Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) invites public comment on projects, issues, or topics that DOT should consider through the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council. Public comments will inform the Department's future efforts with the NETT Council. Comments are requested by April 8, 2022.

The Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council is an internal deliberative body at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) tasked with identifying and resolving jurisdictional and regulatory gaps that may impede the deployment of new technology, such as tunneling, hyperloop, autonomous vehicles, and other innovations.

USDOT consists of the Office of the Secretary of Transportation and nine operating administrations (OAs), each with its own traditional jurisdiction over certain environmental and regulatory approvals. New technologies may not always fit precisely into the Department’s existing regulatory structure, potentially resulting in a slower pace of transportation innovation.

Inventors and investors approach USDOT to obtain necessary safety authorizations, permits, and funding and often face uncertainty about how to coordinate with the Department. The NETT Council will address these challenges by ensuring that the traditional modal silos at DOT do not impede the safe deployment of new technology. Furthermore, it will give project sponsors a single point of access to discuss plans and proposals.

The NETT Council membership consists of the Secretary (ex officio), Deputy Secretary (chair), Under Secretary for Policy (Vice-chair), Chief of Staff, Modal Administrators, and other senior leaders from across the Department.

Meetings will be geared toward reviewing emerging technology projects pending before USDOT. Upon identifying a project that raises unique cross-modal questions, the Council will establish a working group of experts from across the Department to study the technology and make recommendations for how to approach environmental and safety-related oversight. The Council also will coordinate with project stakeholders; and develop and establish Department-wide processes.
 
Section 25008 of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Pub. L. 117-58) authorizes the NETT Council to address coordination on emerging technology issues across all modes of transportation. The NETT Council shall (1) identify and resolve jurisdictional and regulatory gaps or inconsistencies associated with nontraditional and emerging transportation technologies, modes, or projects pending or brought before the Department of Transportation to reduce, to the maximum extent practicable, impediments to the prompt and safe deployment of new and innovative transportation technology, including with respect to safety oversight, environmental review, and funding and financing issues; (2) coordinate the response of the Department of Transportation to nontraditional and emerging transportation technology projects; (3) engage with stakeholders in nontraditional and emerging transportation technology projects; and (4) develop and establish Department of Transportation-wide processes, solutions, and best practices for identifying and managing nontraditional and emerging transportation technology projects.

DOT is focused on improving safety, economic strength and creating good-paying jobs with the choice of a union, equity, climate, and resilience. DOT is also modernizing a transportation system of the future through research and innovation—all while maintaining the highest standards in organizational excellence. DOT is seeking public comments to help inform the future work and direction of the NETT Council. The questions below are meant to guide commenters; however, commenters are invited to provide their views or general comments related to how the Council evaluates transportation innovation, and relevant innovations for it to focus on. If relevant, please provide technical information, regulatory citations, data, or other evidence to support your comments.
 
The NETT Council's Work

1. How can the NETT Council most effectively serve as an entry point for nontraditional and emerging innovation and technologies ready for integration into the transportation system?

2. What has worked well, and not well, about the current structure and activities of the NETT Council?

Considering a Range of Perspectives in the NETT Council's Analyses

3. How can the NETT Council best incorporate the perspective of and engage with other Federal agencies and a broad range of stakeholders (e.g., academia, labor unions, state, local, and tribal governments, private sector) to fully understand potential issues and opportunities related to transportation innovation?

4. How can the NETT Council more effectively reflect inputs from a broad range of transportation stakeholders to assess the positive and negative consequences of transportation innovation?

5. Are there additional stakeholders the NETT Council's analysis should reflect?

6. Are there stakeholder groups that have been marginalized in transportation technology innovation that should be better represented in the NETT Council's analysis and work?

Priority Technologies and Innovations for the NETT Council To Review

7. Using DOT's authorities, what nontraditional and emerging innovation and technologies should NETT Council prioritize for analysis as most impactful, positive or negative, for the transportation system? What emerging innovations have the most significant potential impact on DOT's strategic goals of safety, economic strength & global competitiveness, including creating good-paying jobs, equity, climate and sustainability, transformation, and organizational excellence?

8. What emerging innovations face gaps in focus, support, and/or regulation under DOT's existing regulatory frameworks, and should be reviewed by the NETT Council?

9. What emerging transportation technologies should the NETT Council evaluate for their potential to contribute to ensuring American workers and domestic sourcing and supply chains are strengthened rather than weakened through transportation innovation, including advancing activities under the President's Made in America Executive Order 14005, dated January 25, 2021, and the President's Executive Order 14017 on America's Supply Chains, dated February 24, 2021?

10. What other pressing issues, challenges, and opportunities for transportation innovation should be addressed through the NETT Council?
 
NETT Council: https://www.transportation.gov/nettcouncil
FR notice inviting input: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-04728

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