Wednesday, April 30, 2014

DOT agency named ‘Most Innovative’ agency

Let’s play a word association game. What comes to mind when you hear the words “innovative agency?”

If you didn’t think of the Surface Transportation Board right away, you are not alone. In fact, I forgot that they were an actual thing. Not only are they still around, but they have also been rated as the most innovative government agency.

A group called Partnership for Public Service, part of Deloitte and Hay Group, conducts a survey every year for their data on Best Places to Work in the Federal Government. Federal employees were surveyed and the results are in for 2013. Agencies were split into three categories: large, medium and small. One question asked of employees was how innovative is the agency where you work?

Not surprisingly, NASA scored the highest (76.0) among the large agencies. I mean, it’s NASA. Who’s arguing that? Within the mid-size agencies, the Federal Trade Commission scored a high 69.8. Anyone who follows Tesla Motors and their being blacklisted from selling their vehicles in several states and cities may disagree with that. We’ll see how innovative the FTC is if or when the Comcast/Time Warner merger happens.

Then there’s the small agency category. Surface Transportation Board takes the lead at 83.9. Look above. That’s a higher score than NASA. It’s higher than everybody, making STB the most innovative government agency. Let me repeat that in case you thought you read that wrong: STB is more innovative than NASA.  

Also, in a category dubbed “Agency Subcomponent” consisting of 300 subagencies, the Federal Highway Administration ranked 13th. I suppose we can wait and see what happens with the truck parking issue before criticizing their ranking.

For those of us familiar with the DOT and its agencies, these rankings don’t exactly compute. Let’s have a palate cleanser with some rankings that actually make sense to us:

·         Department of Transportation ranked third to last in the large agency category, only ahead of Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security.
·         National Transportation Safety Board ranked 13th out of 28 in the small agency category.
·         FMCSA ranked 109 of 300 in Subcomponent category. Also within that category is National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 151 of 300.

And clocking in at dead last among all agencies is the Transportation Security Administration with a score of 47.5. Although many people may not find this to be surprising (re: airports), let’s not forget how much they have done with less than 2 percent of their budget for surface transportation security. Remember when OOIDA partnered with TSA’s highway safety program – First Observer? First Observer trained truck drivers on how to spot and report suspicious activity on the nation’s roadways. Considering that truck drivers know the roadways and the behavior of travelers on the road better than anyone else, the TSA recognized that they were the perfect candidates to protect this country from a domestic attack. Now that’s innovation.