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Transportation Department

Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety AdministrationOffice of the Secretary of Transportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) establishes overall transportation policy for the United States. Under the DOT umbrella are 11 administrations whose jurisdictions include highway planning, development, and construction; urban mass transit; railroads; aviation; and the safety of ports, highways, and oil and gas pipelines. Decisions made by the department in conjunction with appropriate state and local officials can significantly affect other programs such as land planning, energy conservation, scarce resource utilization, and technological change.

The DOT was established by Congress in 1966 (49 U.S.C.A. § 102) "to assure the coordinated, effective administration of the transportation programs of the Federal Government" and to develop "national transportation policies and programs conducive to the provision of fast, safe, efficient, and convenient transportation at the lowest cost consistent therewith." The department became operational in April 1967 with elements transferred from eight other major departments and agencies. As of 2003, it consists of the office of the secretary and 11 operating administrations whose heads report directly to the secretary and have highly decentralized authority.

Office of the Secretary of Transportation

The DOT is administered by the secretary of transportation, who is the principal adviser to the president in all matters relating to federal transportation programs. The secretary administers the department with the assistance of a deputy secretary of transportation, an associate deputy secretary, the assistant secretaries, a general counsel, the inspector general, and several directors and chairpersons.


Cobb, Roger W., and David M. Primo. 2003. The Plane Truth: Airline Crashes, the Media, and Transportation Policy. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution.

Sweet, Kathleen M. 2002. Terrorism and Airport Security. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen.

Transportation Department. Available online at <www.dot.gov> (accessed August 14, 2003).


Airlines; Automobiles.

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