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Feb 13 -- The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)'s mission is to deliver the world's leading transportation system, serving the American people and economy through the safe, efficient, sustainable, and equitable movement of people and goods. Developing rigorous research and applying relevant evidence are essential components of the Department's success. On March 28, 2022, we published our first Department-wide Learning Agenda for Fiscal Years (FY) 2022–2026 (the “Learning Agenda”) in conjunction with the Department's FY 2022–2026 Strategic Plan (the “Strategic Plan”). The Learning Agenda was our first effort to identify priority evidence needs and propose research, evaluation activities, and data gathering to address those needs.  

As we've reached the mid-point of this Learning Agenda, the Department seeks to update it. With this Request for Information (RFI), DOT's Office of the Secretary (OST)'s Office of the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs seeks public input regarding potential updates to our published Learning Agenda. Information provided in response to this RFI will inform the development of the Learning Agenda Supplement: Fiscal Year 2024–2026 (“Learning Agenda Supplement”). Comments are requested by April 09, 2024.

The Foundations for Evidenced-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 requires many Federal agencies to create an evidence-building plan, referred to as a Learning Agenda, to identify and address questions relevant to the agency's programs, policies, and regulations. The law further states that agencies “shall consult with stakeholders, including the public, agencies, State and local governments, and representatives of non-governmental researchers” when developing their Learning Agenda. We published our FY 2022–2026 Learning Agenda in March 2022.

In compliance with the Foundations for Evidenced-Based Policymaking Act of 2018, we review our Learning Agenda annually, allowing us to adjust as needed when new evidence is generated or as priorities shift. In our most recent annual review, we decided that it would be appropriate to update the Learning Agenda to incorporate our experiences from the last two years and additional feedback from our stakeholders. . . .

Our Learning Agenda draws on work from across all nine of our Operating Administrations to identify key learning questions that support our strategic goals. The current Learning Agenda is organized around three sets of priority questions: Safety, Climate, and Equity. These priority questions are aligned with our FY 2022–2026 Strategic Plan includes at least one area of focus [sic]:

Safety Priority Questions
○ Focus Areas: Drug-Impaired Driving (Excluding Alcohol), Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety, Improving Aviation Safety and Efficiency

Climate Priority Questions
○ Focus Area: Reducing Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Equity Priority Questions
○ Focus Area: Equity in the DOT Workforce

This RFI is part of our stakeholder engagement to develop the Learning Agenda Supplement. The goal of the Supplement is to identify new research and data priorities not currently included in the Learning Agenda that, if answered, could advance DOT's mission and achieve the long-term goals in our Strategic Plan. We will publish the Learning Agenda Supplement on the DOT website.

The Learning Agenda Supplement can help us advance the strategic goals identified in our FY 2022–2026 Strategic Plan and our FY 2024–2025 Agency Priority Goals. Identifying evidence-building needs inherent to these plans will help guide us in developing the Learning Agenda Supplement.

The FY 2022–2026 DOT Strategic Plan provides the roadmap for advancing the Department's mission. It describes the long-term goals that we aim to achieve, the actions that we will take to realize those goals, and how we will most effectively use resources. It also identifies six Strategic Goals, which are outcome-oriented, long-term goals for our major functions and operations: Safety, Economic Strength and Global Competitiveness, Equity, Climate and Sustainability, Transformation, and Organizational Excellence. Each Strategic Goal has associated Strategic Objectives, which express more specifically the impact DOT is trying to achieve. We also established numerous performance goals that define what success looks like for each Strategic Objective, which can be found in our FY 2024 Performance Plan and FY 2023 Performance Report.

Our Agency Priority Goals (APG) are a performance accountability structure of the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010 that provides us with a mechanism to focus leadership priorities, set outcomes, and measure results. They elevate mission areas where we need to drive significant progress and change. Agency Priority Goal statements are outcome-oriented, ambitious, and measurable with specific targets set that reflect a near-term result or achievement that agency leadership wants to accomplish within approximately 24 months. The Agency Priority Goals identify officials responsible for goal achievement, and our leaders review performance on a quarterly basis to identify barriers to progress and make changes to implementation strategies to achieve goal outcomes. We set five Agency Priority Goals covering FY 2024–2025: Roadway Safety, Aviation Safety, High-Performing Core Assets, Equity, and National Electric Vehicle Charging Network (Joint with the Department of Energy).

The Learning Agenda Supplement: FY 2024–2026 can also support the evidence-building needs of the DOT's National Roadway Safety Strategy, the FAA Safety Call to Action and the Independent Aviation Safety Review Team's findings, the DOT's Equity Action Plan, and the U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization (NBTD). Identifying evidence-building needs related to these strategies and reports will inform the development of the Learning Agenda Supplement.

The purpose of this RFI is to solicit information regarding new research and data priorities that should be considered for incorporation into the Learning Agenda Supplement, as well as adjustments to existing research and data priorities. . . .

Through this RFI, we are asking interested persons, including stakeholders across public and private sectors who may be familiar with or interested in the work of our agency, for input on evidence-building activities that inform important priorities for our agency, including those that are also related to the President's broader priorities available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/​priorities/​. We also seek input on future projects that will advance our mission.

We will analyze information collected from this RFI to inform the development of the Learning Agenda Supplement. This RFI is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on our part. We will not respond to comments we receive in response to this RFI but will use the input to develop the Learning Agenda Supplement.

We invite suggestions in various forms—as key questions to be answered, hypotheses to be tested, or problems to be investigated—that are focused on any area of our mission. The responses to this RFI will inform our ongoing updates and revisions to priorities that guide evidence-building activities.

We are particularly interested in receiving input from interested parties on the questions outlined below.  

1. Are there new priority learning questions (i.e., not already included in the DOT Learning Agenda) that reflect emerging or unanticipated needs and knowledge gaps and that, if answered, could help advance DOT's mission?

2. Are there new priority data needs (i.e., not already included in the DOT Learning Agenda) that reflect emerging or unanticipated needs and knowledge gaps and that, if addressed, could help advance DOT's mission?

3. Does the DOT Learning Agenda contain learning questions or data priorities that need to be adjusted either because priorities have shifted or because they have been addressed through evidence-building activities by DOT or others?

DOT Learning Agenda for FY 2022–2026: https://www.transportation.gov/mission/budget/learning-agenda
DOT Strategic Plan: https://www.transportation.gov/mission/budget/dot-budget-and-performance-documents#StrategicPlans
DOT Agency Priority Goals for FY2022-2023 and FY2024-2025: https://www.performance.gov/agencies/dot/

FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2024-02669

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