On March 20, 2015, the DOT Chief Counsel, Kathryn B. Thompson, and DOT CIO Richard McKinney issued the Memorandum on Developing a Systematic Approach for Increasing the Public Availability of Information about Agency Operations.
This required all Operating Administrations (OAs), including the Office of the Secretary (OST), to develop a plan to systematically review agency datasets for public release, in order to meet commitments made in the DOT’s third Open Government plan. Each OA has submitted a plan to address this need, and they are all available for review here.
FRA already maintains a variety of web-based data available to the public, which has helped make FRA more efficient and has demonstrated responsiveness to the need for information and transparency into Agency operations. These include:
- The FRA’s eLibrary, which provides a wealth of Agency documentation, containing over 5,000 documents searchable by date, subject, and type. These publicly available documents include historical documentation from 1967 through present day, including plans, standards, policies, manuals, fact sheets, press releases, and more.
- The Rail Network Development webpage includes a map created using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which allows users to view and print precise maps of passenger rail, freight stations, grade crossings, and more in an interactive interface. This provides transparency to the public regarding the location and network of the railways across the U.S.
- The FRA’s Office of Safety Analysis publishes data and statistics on national railroad safety, making it easily accessible to the public to view, evaluate, and assess 40 years of historical data, including train miles, employee hours worked, yard switching miles, number of passengers transported, and total passenger miles travelled. This page also includes reports on highway and rail crossings, Employee on Duty safety reports, and accident reports. Data, queries, and reports are updated multiple times per year, and updates are tracked and reported in the ‘what’s new’ section of the website, clearly indicating to the user how the data is maintained. This page is a valuable asset to the public, private, and non-profit sector, as it serves as the only dataset of its caliber on national railways.
- FRA also publishes both open and closed waiver requests from companies seeking waivers to President Obama’s 2009 ‘Buy America’ initiative on its Buy America webpage. This initiative encourages companies to buy from domestic suppliers. By publishing both open and closed waiver requests, and enabling the public to leave comments through a simple web-based form, the FRA bolsters transparency, and encourages public discourse.
FRA is also aiming to publish the following information:
- Further congressional testimony to be published beyond what is published by OST.
- FOIA Logs
- FOIA Frequently Requested Records