Tuesday, January 20, 2009

National Journal Panel: Are you listening Secretary LaHood?

Paris. 12:06 pm, Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This is the day in which the change which we voted for is supposed to start to kick in. As the various teams of the new administration pick up their assignments from President Obama tomorrow morning, every one of them has been instructed to come up with an action agenda capable of offering real change, greater effectiveness and greater equity, as opposed to the "more of the same" which has become the sour staple of recent years.

To help bring this about, one group in Washington DC have taken it upon themselves to respond to this challenge in an interesting way. An insider DC publication, the National Journal *, has organized a cycle of expert brainstorming discussions covering key areas of public policy in which change is so much needed. One of these is aiming at providing background, clues and recommendations for the team that is now going to be responsible for making transportation policy in America for the next four years, the United States Department of Transportation.

To get this job done the Journal has convened a nonpartisan panel which brings together the combined brainpower of more than 50 recognized figures in the transportation field, selected for their competence but also because they represent a wide variety of approaches, interests, and constituencies.

Each week editors and panel members get together to prepare a new topic for discussion, which is then posted first thing on Monday morning. Shortly thereafter the floodgates open and a wide variety of opinions and views come tumbling out from the participating panelists. Among the topics thus far discussed are (my titles): What to do about infrastructure? Is mass transit going to be an item? What about dollar gas? How to write the next transportation bill? And, What should the incoming Secretary of Transportation be looking at first?

To see the composition of the panel and its recommendations thus far, click to http://transportation.nationaljournal.com/ .

Next week's question is being addressed to transportation, environment, and cities experts living and working outside of the United States. They are being asked to respond to this question for their American colleagues: “What lessons can America learn from the rest of the world in terms of transportation developments that are safe, efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable?” If you want to see what all these people have to offer their US colleagues, just check in to http://transportation.nationaljournal.com/ starting next Monday the 26th.

In the meantime it seems fair to ask: how are the incoming teams going to take advantage of such a wide variety of visions and counsel? They certainly have their work cut out for them. But they will never be able to complain that they did not know what we all thought.

Eric Britton, Invited Panelist
New Mobility Agenda, Paris and Los Angeles

* Here is how the Journal describes itself: “Founded in 1969 the National Journal provides in-depth and balanced nonpartisan coverage of public policy and politics for an audience of people with a professional interest in these topics. Readership includes members of Congress, White House staff, congressional aides, lobbyists, trade association executives, and political strategists.”

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