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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

ACTS April 24, 2014 - Minutes

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Meeting Minutes - April 24, 2014
Members Present
Michael Walton – Chair
Hermann Habermann
Paul Jovanis
Michael Replogle
Joe Schofer (VTC)
Members Not Present
Alicia Carriquiry
David Lee
Leanna Depue
Barbara Fraumeni
Noted Visitors
Steve Pierson - American Statistical Association
Tom Palmerlee - Transportation Research Board
Alan Pisarski

  • Agenda and Goals of the Meeting – Conducted by Chair, Michael Walton
    • Introductions by Chair Michael Walton
    • OST-R Attorney, Bob Monniere gave an overview of ethics requirements for ACTS members
    • Completed an overview of agenda items
  • What Transition Means for BTS and FY15 Budget Outlook
    • OST-R Chief Counsel Ellen Partridge described the value of OST influence over modal administration activities to BTS’s role as a coordinator of statistical programs.
      • When asked about review of BTS products, Ellen Partridge responded that BTS reports go through many OST offices for review. Hermann Habermann expressed the concern shared by ACTS members that approval of BTS products is BTS responsibility and that OST should not be involved to maintain the appearance of objectivity. The Secretary can direct what BTS works on but not how BTS works. Assistant Secretary Winfree arrived during the discussion, and suggested that the relationship between the Office of the Inspector General  and OST may be a good model for the relationship between BTS and OST.
    • Alan Pisarski described the demise of data programs in OST in the 1970s, and warned that the BTS budget could be at similar risk if Congress is upset with OST and takes out its frustration on all OST components.
    • Action Item: BTS should consider various approaches that principal federal statistical agencies have used to assure independence
    • Rolf Schmitt and Tim Klein describe the FY 2015 budget proposal: core BTS and OAI programs plus $3 million for travel data initiative, with 2 percent growth per year in the following 3 years.
    • Action item: BTS should talk to Dan Cooke at the Committee on National Statistics on how his Census 2020 panel is dealing with Big Data issues.
    • Action item: BTS should follow the NCHRP 20-102 study on Impacts of Connected and Automated Vehicles on State and Local Transportation Agencies and how connected vehicle data can be used by state departments of transportation.
    • Action item: BTS should become aware of Big Data urban monitoring efforts in New York (CUSP) and Chicago.
  • Next Steps for the Commodity Flow Survey Vision/Mission
    • Michael Sprung described the plan between BTS and FHWA to share responsibilities for the Freight Analysis Framework, with BTS producing the origin-destination benchmark matrix and annual updates into the National Commodity Origin-Destination Accounts (NCODA) while FHWA focuses on network assignment, forecasts, and other policy analyses.
    • ACTS members discussed how to determine when NCODA estimates are accurate enough to support the uses of those estimates, how BTS could better estimate new freight patterns, the need to measure dematerialization of the economy and its consequences for transportation and the need to measure load factors for trucks.
  • Plans to Restore the Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey
    • Joy Sharp described BTS-FHWA efforts to restore the Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey, using event recorders developed by Transport Canada. ACTS members encouraged BTS to work with ATRI on the issue of respondent acceptance, as well as with the private carrier association, independent owner-operators, and Teamsters. In addition to vehicle load factors, ACTS members expressed a need for information on routes and types of highway used.
    • Action item: BTS should consider how much data can be obtained from existing loggers in trucks.
    • Action item: BTS should consider how the Confidential Close Calls Reporting Program is promoted with industry as a model for respondent acceptance of the on-board loggers.
    • Action item: The deferred ACTS briefing on the Confidential Close Calls Reporting Program should be added to the agenda for the next meeting.
  • Discussion of draft BTS strategic plan and BTS role in Performance Measurement
    • Rolf Schmitt summarized the draft strategic plan. ACTS members responded that to be used as an external document, the strategic plan should be more positive, highlighting achievements and turning challenges section from list of problems to issues requiring actions.
    • The strategic plan should focus on creating a data backbone, for example, expanding the National Transportation Data Archive into a portal or home for local survey data. This portal should have sufficient harmonization to allow state and metro region flows to drill down in the NCODA and parallel the National Travel Origin-Destination Accounts.
    • BTS should consider a pilot report on national mobility based on national and local data.
    • BTS Director Pat Hu described the National Household Transferability project as an alternate approach to local data.
    • Action item: Use part of the next ACTS meeting for a SWOT analysis discussion.
    • Action item: BTS should dedicate a portion of FTE and budget to explore new data sources and dedicate time to development of data partnerships. For example, BTS should explore use of toll data such as EZPass.
    • On performance measures, ACTS members suggested that BTS should focus on measures that it can control and ask the Secretary or Undersecretary how BTS can be helpful.
    • Action item: send an update to the strategic plan and minutes of the meeting to ACTS members ASAP so support preparation of a letter report to the Assistant Secretary.
  • Closing Remarks – Conducted by Chair, Michael Walton
    • There were no statements offered by the public.
    • Chairman Walton thanked the participants.