U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Secretary, Office of the Under Secretary for Policy
The Office of the Under Secretary is comprised of multiple offices, including the Office of Transportation Policy (P), the Office of Aviation and International Affairs (X), the Office of the Resource Directorate, and the both newly established Build America Bureau (the Bureau) and the Infrastructure Permitting Improvement Center (IPIC). These offices have a broad range of functions and missions, including domestic and international transportation policy development and implementation, economic and legislative analysis, regulatory impact analysis, strategic planning, and many several high profile statutory programs.
The Office of the Under Secretary is comprised of nearly $456 million in appropriated accounts, nearly $2 billion in discretionary grant awards along with $1.5 billion available in our TIFIA loan program and roughly $30 billion in RRIF program.
Within the Office of the Secretary, Policy Office, you will work as a member of an experienced team comprised of top policy makers, including the Under Secretary, Assistant Secretary, and Deputy Assistant Secretary, on transportation issues that affect national transportation policy. Good communication skills (interpersonal, public speaking, reading, and writing) and the ability to juggle multiple tasks with quick turnaround times are essential for effective performance.
This project will focus on a variety of transportation-related safety, infrastructure, and transportation innovation topics and could serve as DOT's interagency contact and/or policy analyst for policy issues such as: autonomous vehicles, drones, highway/ vehicle and aviation safety, performance measurement, new vehicle technology, transportation project delivery, transit, rail, regulation standards, and research studies.
Duties of the positions vary, but the following activities serve as examples of some potential responsibilities:
- Review and issue formal comments on major legislation and regulations
- Develop and support safety activities across the Department, including review of transportation safety proposals
- Attend briefings on a variety of transportation topics
- Analyze and prepare briefings or white papers on transportation issues related to safety data and innovative transportation concepts
- Attend meetings and conferences pertaining to and transportation safety, autonomous vehicles, drones and other surface and aviation transportation issues
- Analyze legislative proposals
- Prepare senior leadership for meetings
- Staff project-level initiatives
- Managing research activities
- Track and manage research studies and appropriated earmarks in the Office of the Secretary
2018 Intern Reflection:
In the US Department of Transportation, I have learned so far about how a bureaucratic agency works in the executive branch and how career bureaucrats and political appointees interact to make an agency functioning. It was interesting to see how FAA, NHTSA, FRA, and all the other agencies under the DOT work independently and cooperatively with the main department to execute the administration's transportation policies. I've had the chance to attend a lot of different policy briefings, conference calls, conferences, and review existing policies and potential plans for improvements. I've also prepared briefings and memorandums for the Secretary herself (haven't met her yet) for her meetings with different transportation stakeholders.
Anyone having a slight interest in transportation (aviation, highway funding, railroad, etc.) and anyone curious in how bureaucracy works, I'd say, would have a great time at this internship. It was also interesting to talk to the career staff in the office and how they ended up in this agency, and the potential conflicts between choosing public vs private sector when choosing a career path. It was definitely an enlightening experience for me and I think I have a better idea of what I want to do in the future.
Brian Kim '21