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Bureau of Transportation Statistics: Developing a Statistical Roadmap to Inform Transportation Financing Decisions

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), within the U.S. Department of Transportation, is a federal statistical agency that provides actionable statistics and context of those statistics to policymakers and the public. BTS strives to innovatively collect, analyze, and distribute data to inform decision-making on transportation issues.

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Key Findings

The Academy team’s key recommendations to BTS included 1) providing statistics relevant to policymakers; 2) developing explanatory materials to increase transparency; and 3) accelerating the data release process by enhancing relationships with data source agencies. The Academy team also identified “quick win” opportunities that are relatively easy to implement and have visible impact, including improving communication with data users and increasing data geographic granularity.

This ambitious agenda is critical for BTS to ensure that the nation has the necessary transportation financial statistics to inform the policy and management decision making of a variety of transportation actors, including policymakers at all levels of government, both now and into the future. In the midst of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, such information will become even more important as the United States seeks to rebuild its economy and society. Because many of the recommendations in this roadmap can be applied to non-financial statistics, the Academy team encourages BTS to determine the extent to which these are relevant to its other statistical products and services.


Recommendations

The study team recommended ten actions for BTS to achieve three separate goals.

1) Serve as a reliable and credible data source for policymakers and other data users

  • Develop and publish explanatory material to assist users with interpretation and highlight inconsistencies to increase transparency
  • Accelerate data release process by enhancing relationships with data source agencies
  • Provide guidance on statistical products

2) Understand the needs of data users and provide relevant statistical products or services

  • Provide statistics relevant to policymakers at all levels of government
  • Improve communication with data users
  • Keep up with new technological developments and understand their implications on data needs
  • Increase geographic granularity

3) Promote efficient and effective data management and data use

  • Increase linkages with other data sources
  • Report P3 data
  • Use nontraditional data sources