49 U.S. Code § 330. Research activities

(a) In General.—
The Secretary of Transportation may make contracts with educational institutions, public and private agencies and organizations, and persons for scientific or technological research into a problem related to programs carried out by the Secretary. Before making a contract, the Secretary must require the institution, agency, organization, or person to show that it is able to carry out the contract.
(b) Responsibilities.—In carrying out this section, the Secretary shall—
give advice and assistance the Secretary believes will best carry out the duties and powers of the Secretary;
participate in coordinating all research started under this section;
indicate the lines of inquiry most important to the Secretary; and
encourage and assist in establishing and maintaining cooperation by and between contractors and between them and other research organizations, the Department of Transportation, and other departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States Government.
(c) Publications.—
The Secretary may distribute publications containing information the Secretary considers relevant to research carried out under this section.
(d) Duties.—The Secretary shall provide for the following:
Coordination, facilitation, and review of Department of Transportation research and development programs and activities.
Advancement, and research and development, of innovative technologies, including intelligent transportation systems.
Comprehensive transportation statistics research, analysis, and reporting.
Education and training in transportation and transportation-related fields.
Activities of the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.
Coordination in support of multimodal and multidisciplinary research activities.
(e) Additional Authorities.—The Secretary may—
enter into grants and cooperative agreements with Federal agencies, State and local government agencies, other public entities, private organizations, and other persons to conduct research into transportation service and infrastructure assurance and to carry out other research activities of the Department of Transportation;
(2) carry out, on a cost-shared basis, collaborative research and development to encourage innovative solutions to multimodal transportation problems and stimulate the deployment of new technology with—
non-Federal entities, including State and local governments, foreign governments, institutions of higher education, corporations, institutions, partnerships, sole proprietorships, and trade associations that are incorporated or established under the laws of any State;
Federal laboratories; and
other Federal agencies; and
directly initiate contracts, grants, cooperative research and development agreements (as defined in section 12(d) of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 3710a(d))), and other agreements to fund, and accept funds from, the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, State departments of transportation, cities, counties, institutions of higher education, associations, and the agents of those entities to carry out joint transportation research and technology efforts.
(f) Federal Share.—
(1) In general.—
Subject to paragraph (2), the Federal share of the cost of an activity carried out under subsection (e)(3) shall not exceed 50 percent.
(2) Exception.—
If the Secretary determines that the activity is of substantial public interest or benefit, the Secretary may approve a greater Federal share.
(3) Non-federal share.—
All costs directly incurred by the non-Federal partners, including personnel, travel, facility, and hardware development costs, shall be credited toward the non-Federal share of the cost of an activity described in subsection (e)(3).
(g) Program Evaluation and Oversight.—
For each of fiscal years 2016 through 2020, the Secretary is authorized to expend not more than 1 ½ percent of the amounts authorized to be appropriated for the coordination, evaluation, and oversight of the programs administered by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology.
(h) Use of Technology.—
The research, development, or use of a technology under a contract, grant, cooperative research and development agreement, or other agreement entered into under this section, including the terms under which the technology may be licensed and the resulting royalties may be distributed, shall be subject to the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 3701 et seq.).
(i) Waiver of Advertising Requirements.—
Section 6101 of title 41 shall not apply to a contract, grant, or other agreement entered into under this section.

Historical and Revision Notes



Source (U.S. Code)

Source (Statutes at Large)



Oct. 15, 1966, Pub. L. 89–670, § 9(q)(1)–(3), 80 Stat. 947.

49:1657(q)(2) (1st sentence).


49:1657(q)(2) (less 1st sentence).



In subsection (a), the words “may make contracts” are substituted for “is authorized to enter into contracts” to eliminate unnecessary words. The words “the conduct of” before “scientific” are omitted as surplus. The words “a problem” are substituted for “any aspect of the problems” because of the style of the revised title. The words “carried out by the Secretary” are substituted for “of the Department which are authorized by statute” because the Secretary of Transportation is vested with all duties and powers. The words “Before making a contract” are substituted for “with which he expects to enter into contracts pursuant to this subsection” for clarity and to eliminate unnecessary words. The words “is able to carry out the contract” are substituted for “have the capability of doing effective work” for clarity.

In subsection (b), before clause (1), the words “In carrying out this section” are added for clarity. In clause (1), the word “give” is substituted for “furnish” before “such advice” for consistency. The words “duties and powers of the Secretary” are substituted for “mission of the Department” for clarity and consistency. In clause (4), the word “contractors” is substituted for “the institutions, agencies, organizations, or persons” to eliminate unnecessary words. The words “departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States Government” are substituted for “Federal agencies” for clarity and consistency.

In subsection (c), the words “considers relevant” are substituted for “as he deems pertinent” as more precise. The words “from time to time” before “disseminate” and “in the form of reports or . . . to public or private agencies or organizations, or individuals” before “such information” are omitted as unnecessary.

References in Text

The Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, referred to in subsec. (h), is Pub. L. 96–480, Oct. 21, 1980, 94 Stat. 2311, which is classified generally to chapter 63 (§ 3701 et seq.) of Title 15, Commerce and Trade. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 3701 of Title 15 and Tables.


2015—Pub. L. 114–94, § 6011(b)(1), substituted “activities” for “contracts” in section catchline.

Subsecs. (a) to (c). Pub. L. 114–94, § 6011(b)(2)–(4), inserted headings.

Subsecs. (d) to (i). Pub. L. 114–94, § 6011(b)(5), added subsecs. (d) to (i).

Effective Date of 2015 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 114–94 effective Oct. 1, 2015, see section 1003 of Pub. L. 114–94, set out as a note under section 5313 of Title 5, Government Organization and Employees.

Conflicts of Interest

Pub. L. 106–159, title I, § 101(g), Dec. 9, 1999, 113 Stat. 1752, provided that:

“(1) Compliance with regulation.—
In awarding any contract for research, the Secretary shall comply with section 1252.209–70 of title 48, Code of Federal Regulations, as in effect on the date of the enactment of this section [Dec. 9, 1999]. The Secretary shall require that the text of such section be included in any request for proposal and contract for research made by the Secretary.
“(2) Study.—
“(A) In general.—
The Secretary shall conduct a study to determine whether or not compliance with the section referred to in paragraph (1) is sufficient to avoid conflicts of interest in contracts for research awarded by the Secretary and to evaluate whether or not compliance with such section unreasonably delays or burdens the awarding of such contracts.
“(B) Consultation.—
In conducting the study under this paragraph, the Secretary shall consult, as appropriate, with the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation, the Comptroller General, the heads of other Federal agencies, research organizations, industry representatives, employee organizations, safety organizations, and other entities.
“(C) Report.—
Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act [Dec. 9, 1999], the Secretary shall transmit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report on the results of the study conducted under this paragraph.”