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Transportation professionals rely on accurate, timely, and easily accessible information to make good decisions. In 1991, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) gave transportation agencies great flexibility to develop and plan their transpor tation programs, yet created broad new requirements for information collection and dissemina tion. Today, in addition to providing safe and efficient transportation, agencies must address a full range of issues to better serve their customers. Transportation professionals rely on a steady stream of information to keep up with a technology base that is continually evolving and changing, and the movement toward decentralization creates a need for information at many different levels of an agency. Finally, as transportation becomes integral to meeting our broader societal goals--such as ensuring environmental quality and providing mobility for a diverse population--agencies' needs for information become even greater.

The Strategic Plan 1997-2002 of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recognizes the importance of quality information for making sound transportation decisions. Within the Department, the plan "recognizes that the collection and dissemination of data and information, and the creation and sharing of knowledge about the Nation's transportation sector, are crucial to...success in an age of growth, increasing complexity, and decentralization." The Strategic Plan emphasizes that

DOT has an essential role in improving the quality of decisions affecting the transportation sector through the provision of better information to both the public and private sectors. Broad dissemina tion of information will become an essential departmental mission in years to come.

In support of this mission, this report describes and, where possible, quantifies the value of information for transportation agencies. It assesses the various means of accessing information and looks at the important role of the information professional. In 1994, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee A5001 on the Conduct of Research addressed the need to improve recognition of the value of information, information services, and information professionals. As a result, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) initiated a project overseen by a technical panel of transportation professionals and TRB committee members. This report represents the first phase of this project, which has two overall goals: 1) determine the value of information and information services and 2) identify strategies for promoting informa tion programs (addressed in this report in Appendix C). The ultimate objective is to assist transportation agencies in making optimum use of effective and efficient information programs in the delivery of quality transportation services.

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Electronic version of Publication No. FHWA-SA-99-038
This page last updated August 18, 1999

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