WASHINGTON — As part of the 132-page reorganization plan proposed by the Office of Management and Budget to reorganize the federal government’s structure, the Department of Transportation would undergo a series of changes that would see duties added as well as deleted from its portfolio, according to an article in the Journal of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
First, Army Corps of Engineer commercial navigation functions would move to USDOT, while all of the other activities of the Corps – including flood and storm damage reduction, aquatic ecosystem restoration, hydropower, regulatory, and other duties – would shift to the Department of the Interior.
“Transferring Corps navigation programs to USDOT would consolidate responsibility across all transportation modes within a single federal agency, thereby encouraging consistent federal policy in the transportation sector,” OMB said. “This consolidation would leverage USDOT’s expertise in infrastructure, and make its maritime responsibilities analogous to its role in other transportation sectors. In the maritime sector, USDOT’s mission would expand to helping States and non-Federal partners make infrastructure investment decisions.”
Second, federal responsibility for the air traffic control system would be spun-off to a “non-profit entity” as would control of the Saint Lawrence Seaway – two areas where OMB said there is “significant misalignment” in USDOT duties.
“Both of those components could be spun off from the government, which would allow them to have better structures and insolation from the political system, and allow them to better assess fees based on actual usage of their systems,” OMB said in its report. “Spinning FAA air traffic control services out of the government to a non-profit entity, similar to the Canadian system, has strong policy merits, evidenced by the approximately 60 countries that have shifted air traffic control responsibilities to non-governmental providers.”
Third, two security-related surface transportation functions would be transferred from the Department of Homeland Security to USDOT.
As a result, transit security grants currently administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) surface transportation inspection and guidance activities would come under USDOT oversight.
Fourth, a “re-examination” of programmatic responsibilities tucked into the Officer of the Secretary of Transportation – such as the Build America Bureau, which, among other responsibilities, administers transportation credit programs, awards INFRA grants, allocates private activity bonds, and communicates best practices and funding opportunities to project sponsors, as well as the BUILD grant program – could result in a shift to “alternative” governance structures.
Fifth, to better support the USDOT’s operating administrations or “OAs,” offices and positions would be consolidated in areas such as research and development.
Finally, USDOT workforce development grants would be transferred to the new Department of Education and the Workforce to “centralize workforce development policy and to deliver more efficient and effective outcomes,” OMB said.