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USA - "What Are in-coming Secretary's Ray LaHood's Biggest Challenges?"

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  • eric britton
    Dear colleagues, As part of my participation in the advisory panel being organized by the National Journal in Washington, DC, -- see
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 10, 2009

      Dear colleagues,


      As part of my participation in the advisory panel being organized by the National Journal in Washington, DC, -- see http://transportation.nationalJournal.com -- the goal of which is to provide ideas and guidelines for the incoming administration's transportation team, I have prepared the following statement which I intend to post before the end of the weekend in response to the question to the panel: "What Are in-coming Secretary's Ray LaHood's Biggest Challenges?" I am pretty comfortable with the following by way of a working draft, but I am sure that at least some of you are going to enjoy having a look at this and also that you will have some ideas and suggestions for me on this.  It would be great to have them so that I can make a firm and convincing statement on what I think is a very important issue and opportunity.


      Please address your comments either to the group if you feel that it's going to be useful for all of our busy colleagues, or directly to me at ericbritton@.... If you address it to the group, I propose the best place to post it will be on the New Mobility Café for which the e-mail address is NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com.


      I very much hope you find some value in this.  And sure, let's see we can change the world.


      Eric Britton



      "What Are in-coming Secretary's Ray LaHood's Biggest Challenges?"


      Redefining Transportation:

      There is not a moment of doubt in my mind that the greatest single challenge our new Secretary of Transportation faces will be to "get out of the box" of the past. Nothing less than redefining transportation.


      And I'm sure that this is not going to be an easy challenge for him to face because the day that he walks through the door of his new office there will be a huge number of problems, projects, details and interests clamoring for his attention. But this is quite likely to be the most important single initial decision that he can make as he assembles his new team and prepares for the four years ahead. This is the one decision that will shape all the rest.


      To this end I would like to propose that we here on this fine panel put our heads together and gather our ideas and recommendations on the following idea, on which I enthusiastically welcome comments and criticism. What you have here is only the raw materials of a starting place.  It needs you to be turned into something that is going to be clear, convincing and operational.



      I propose that we recommend that future Secretary LaHood  and his team convene a high-level cross-agency review and brainstorming session  which will bring together the best placed strategic thinkers from the following key related departments and agencies in order to look together at what the challenges, responses and priorities for the next four years really are.  Obvious candidates include:


      ·         Department of Health and Human Services

      ·         Department of Housing and Urban Development

      ·         Department of Commerce

      ·         Department of Education

      ·         Department of Labor

      ·         Department of Energy

      ·         Department of the Treasury

      ·         Environmental Protection Agency

      ·         Federal Communications Commission


      It goes without saying that this listing is personal and incomplete.  And while I'm sure there are other players who should be brought into such an rethinking process, I would hope that the core group would remain relatively compact so that the key factors and players are going to really get their message through.


      Without wishing to presume or to jump too far ahead in this process, it is also clear that any such program will be to be supported by some kind of continuing advisory group of thinkers, doers, and communicators who can help fill in the dots and thereby ensure that the good ideas and proposals coming out of the more formal sessions actually get done.


      This would be an important thing to do now because here we are, not only in a new century but in the opening phase of a period of new government ideas. So now's the time to start to think far more broadly and strategically about the issues and choices in our sector.


      If we can self-criticize the performance and results of our transportation policy, thinking and performance over the last decades, the crux would have to be that our investment and other key choices have been made without sufficient reference to the broader context and issues that shape and are in turn shaped by decisions made in the transportation sector. This long list includes such critical under-pinnings as climate, environment, land use, energy, city and community development, public health, job creation (but the right kinds of jobs for our new century), the beauty of America, community relations, aging populations, 21st century economic realities, the special problems of the rural and urban poor, and the list goes on. Our sector and the investments that are now going to go into it can succeed only if we bring all of these factors to the table in the decision process.  All of the time!


      This could be the beginning of a major revolution in the transportation sector which just might turn out to be every bit as fundamental as President Eisenhower's Intrastate Highway Program that reshaped America in so very many significant ways.


      And finally, I would hope that this can be carried out in such a striking a successful manner that it will create a template for "Redefining Transportation", at the state and local government levels across America.  We need a new template, and where better to start and get the news out and from The Nation's Capital.


      That is the challenge that Secretary LaHood and his team now face.  And all of us here should be ready to pitch in and help with the job.


      -  -  -  -


      PS.  If we look over the preceding 18 contributions in response to this question, we can see that a number of elements of the above have already been brought up by other panelists.  Hardly surprising given the quality, competences and energy of this great group.  That said, I thought it would be useful to try to build on their points and recommendations in this very specific way.

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