Committees and Panels
Standing Committees and Task Forces
The TRB’s standing committees are communities of individuals who share an interest and expertise in transportation. With more than 200 committees, almost every transportation mode and topic is represented in the Group and Section structure
in which all standing committees and task forces are organized. Each committee proposes research, shares research findings, sponsors special activities, and provides a forum for transportation professionals to discuss today’s and tomorrow’s transportation issues.
Task forces are similar to standing committees; however they are convened for a specific purpose and for only a specific time-period.
TRB’s Technical Activities Division
of the Transportation Research Board is responsible for the standing committee and task force activities.
Since 1982, TRB has conducted more than 75 studies at the request of Congress, executive-branch federal agencies, the states, and other organizations on an array of complex and often controversial transportation topics of national significance. Examples include counterterrorism, truck size and weight regulation, airport capacity, transit use, high-speed rail, airline deregulation, dredging, environmental policy, school transportation safety, and automotive safety. New studies are initiated annually.
Each study is conducted by a specially appointed independent policy committee. Committee members are selected to represent appropriate areas of expertise and a balance of perspectives on the issues involved; members serve without compensation. The committee process is open to public scrutiny and comment, in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 1997. Every final report undergoes a rigorous institutional review, in which outside experts examine the report in accordance with guidelines developed by the National Academies to ensure that the committee has provided a balanced and fair assessment of the topic addressed.
Through policy committees, TRB also provides a forum for conducting periodic or continuing reviews of specific transportation research and technology programs. Such committees have provided guidance on the overall highway research program, the Long-Term Pavement Performance studies, and technology transfer activities. Other study committees have provided advice on highway costallocation studies, research programs of the Federal Railroad Administration, development of standards for intelligent transportation systems, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ survey programs, and the federal transportation science and technology strategy. Policy committee are generally overseen by TRB's Studies and Special Program Division.
The Executive Office supports the work of the TRB Executive Committee, which provides policy direction to TRB programs and activities within the overall policies of the National Academies. The Executive Committee is composed of about 25 individuals from government, industry, and academia who are active in the areas of interest of TRB, and a variable number of ex-officio members.
Oversight of committee and panel appointments and of report review is the responsibility of the Executive Committee’s Subcommittee for NRC Oversight, which ensures that TRB meets institutional standards and that its activities are appropriate for the National Academies. As part of its oversight function, the subcommittee monitors the Board’s progress in expanding the representation of minorities and women on TRB committees and panels. Executive Committee members are appointed with the approval of the chairman of the National Research Council.
The Executive Committee's Subcommittee on Planning and Policy Review (SPPR) advise the Executive Committee and staff on matters relating to the selection, scope, and execution of policy-oriented studies within TRB and helps to establish goals and directions for those parts of TRB engaged in policy studies. The SPPR also plans and develops opportunities for new Executive Committee initiatives, identifies critical transportation issues warranting TRB consideration, acts for the Executive Committee with respect to decisions normally made by the Executive Committee on all study matters requiring attention between regularly scheduled Executive Committee meetings, and advises the Subcommittee for NRC Oversight (SNO) of actions taken--especially those for which subsequent SNO action is required.
TRB administers two major research programs sponsored by other organizations: the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), which is sponsored by the state transportation departments in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration; and the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), which is sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration. Both are applied research programs in which the potential users of research results have a direct role in project selection.
In 2002 TRB began administering the Commercial Truck and Bus Safety Synthesis Program (CTBSSP), which is sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In 2003 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was authorized to sponsor a new Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) within TRB. In 2006 the Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP 2), the National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP), and the Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program (HMCRP) were added to the list of programs managed by TRB.
Under these programs, TRB organizes panels of experts to provide guidance on technical aspects of the research and to translate the problems into project statements with well-defined objectives. Research proposals are then solicited from private and public research organizations with capability and experience in the problem areas to be studied. The technical panels review the proposals, recommend contract awards, monitor research in progress, provide technical guidance, and determine the acceptability of the final reports. More than 2,000 experienced practitioners and research specialists currently serve on Cooperative Research Program and Strategic Highway Research Program 2 panels. TRB also manages programs of smaller studies focused on synthesizing current practices and analyzing legal issues in both the NCHRP and the TCRP programs. Findings and publications from these synthesis and legal research projects have been well received by highway and transit practitioners.