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Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report (2012)

Chapter:2 Management Strategy and Priority Setting

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Suggested Citation:"2 Management Strategy and Priority Setting." National Research Council. 2012. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13288.
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2

Management Strategy and Priority Setting

INTRODUCTION

As part of its review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership (21CTP), the committee received presentations from the four participating agencies (Department of Energy [DOE], Department of Transportation [DOT], Department of Defense [DOD], and Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]) and the 21CTP industrial partners. These presentations included detailed responses to the concerns about the program’s overall effectiveness, funding variations, priority setting, partnership performance, and other 21CTP issues raised in the National Research Council’s Phase 1 report (NRC, 2008). The committee also collected information by formulating questions to which the 21CTP provided informative answers. In addition, the 21CTP provided responses to the recommendations from the NRC Phase 1 report (see Appendix C).

In this chapter the committee reviews each of these areas and reports its findings and recommendations. For background on how the Partnership functions, the chapter also includes and summarizes information from the NRC Phase 1 report (NRC, 2008).

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT

Overall management for the Partnership currently rests with the DOE’s Office of Vehicle Technologies (the former name was the Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies [FCVT]), in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). DOE personnel lay out Partnership goals (DOE, 2006, 2010, 2011; further revisions are planned for 2011), lead the discussions for and preparation of the updated 21CTP roadmap and white papers, maintain the information-flow infrastructure (such as websites, e-mail lists), and organize meetings and conference calls. The management of individual projects under the 21CTP umbrella rests with the individual federal agencies that have funded the work. These agencies communicate among one another through the 21CTP information-sharing infrastructure to coordinate efforts and to ensure that valuable research results are communicated and that any overlap of activities among their respective efforts is reduced.

Figure 2-1 illustrates the interrelations among the key parties in setting 21CTP research programs. Government agencies request funding from Congress through the administration and work with the industrial partners and research organizations (including universities and government laboratories) to establish research programs that meet national priorities and the interests of industry partners. However, final funding levels are determined by congressional appropriations, with each agency overseen by different congressional committees. This makes prioritization of all of the 21CTP projects within the four agencies difficult, if not impossible.

image

FIGURE 2-1 Interrelations among participants in the 21st Century Truck Partnership. OMB, Office of Management and Budget. SOURCE: Submitted to the committee by the DOE Office of Vehicle Technologies, January 29, 2010.

Suggested Citation:"2 Management Strategy and Priority Setting." National Research Council. 2012. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13288.
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The committee requested that the budgets for the 21CTP projects of all four agencies be provided for its review, but only the DOE was able to provide a budget for 21CTP activities (see Chapter 1, Table 1-2). Because there are no specific 21CTP budget lines at the EPA, DOD, and DOT, the committee is not aware of a specific list of 21CTP projects and corresponding funding levels for these agencies; it never received a well-defined list of such projects and budgets. Even in the case of the DOE, light-duty vehicle and heavy-duty vehicle work overlaps in some cases, in areas such as combustion or lightweight materials, and so there is at times some difficulty in defining exactly what projects are considered part of the 21CTP, although leveraging the results of light-duty work for heavy-duty vehicles is appropriate. In addition, it was difficult for the committee to ascertain the level of resources that is being contributed by the private sector.

In the case of the DOE, technology programs are developed to meet a cascading series of goals that begin at the President’s National Energy Policy and culminate (at the program level) with specific technology goals. Figure 2-2 illustrates that pattern schematically.

The DOE focuses its technology research and development (R&D) investments specifically in high-risk areas or on activities with uncertain or long-term outcomes that are of national interest but would most likely not be pursued by industry alone. Program activities include research, development, testing, technology validation, technology transfer, and education. These activities are aimed at developing technologies that could achieve significant reductions in vehicle fuel consumption and the displacement of oil by other fuels that ultimately can be produced domestically in a clean and cost-competitive manner.

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FIGURE 2-2 Department of Energy goal setting process for technology programs. SOURCE: DOE, Responses to Committee Queries on 21CTP, Management and Process Issues. Transmitted by e-mail from Ken Howden, DOE Office of Vehicle Technologies (formerly the Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies [FCVT]).

Suggested Citation:"2 Management Strategy and Priority Setting." National Research Council. 2012. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13288.
×

image

FIGURE 2-3 Some areas of common interest among the collaborative government agencies in the 21st Century Truck Partnership. Acronyms are defined in Appendix I. SOURCE: Submitted to the committee by the DOE Office of Vehicle Technologies, January 29, 2011.

In DOE vehicle research, which specifically addresses the national issue of energy security and the increasing pressures of the rising global consumption of oil, the Office of Vehicle Technologies has involved the affected industries in planning the research agenda and identifying technical goals that, if met, will provide the basis for commercialization decisions. The government’s approach is intended to allow industry-wide collaboration in precompetitive research, which is then followed by competition in the marketplace.

The Partnership provides a forum for the exchange of technical information among the industry and government partners involved in heavy-duty transportation. At present, the coordination of initiatives takes place as part of this information exchange.

Specific areas in which the government partners have already coordinated initiatives include the following:

•   Diesel fuel sulfur standard development—with coordination between the DOE and EPA on appropriate sulfur levels for low-sulfur diesel;

•   Idle reduction activities—with cooperation between the EPA and DOT and their focus on deployment, and the DOE with its focus on technology R&D;

•   Development of heavy-duty truck fuel efficiency standards—with coordination between the DOT and EPA to create the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles,” issued on October 25, 2010 (EPA/NHTSA, 2010), which led to a final rule issued on September 15, 2011 (EPA/NHTSA, 2011);

•   Truck aggressivity—with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) using the 21CTP as a forum for approaching all key government and industry participants involved with the issue; and

•   Hybrid powertrains—with the DOE and EPA pursuing different technologies for hybridization, e.g., hydraulic hybrids at the EPA and electric hybrids at the DOE.

Figure 2-3 illustrates the general collaborative structure of the four government agencies and some areas of interest among them.

The full Partnership meets by conference call monthly, or at times biweekly, and meets face-to-face about four times per year. The Partnership’s Executive Committee is made up of three industry members, one from each of three industrial sectors: truck original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), engine manufacturers, and hybrid/system component manufacturers (NRC, 2008).1 Agendas for the conference calls typically include discussion of topics such as the following:

•   Open funding opportunities (to bring these to the attention of members who may wish to apply),

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1 According to an e-mail from Michael Laughlin, 21CTP, to John H. Johnson, committee chair, dated May 17, 2011, Executive Committee conference calls are scheduled monthly to discuss issues related to 21CTP management and operations, and one full Partnership call per month is scheduled to discuss issues relevant to the entire group.

Suggested Citation:"2 Management Strategy and Priority Setting." National Research Council. 2012. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13288.
×

•   Budget activities in the federal sector (where appropriate),

•   Technical accomplishments or plans for individual areas of interest to the heavy-duty trucking industry,

•   News articles of interest to the industry,

•   Industry/government events (e.g., the Society of Automotive Engineers [SAE] Government-Industry Meeting, the SAE Commercial Vehicle Congress, and so forth) and any Partnership participation plans,

•   Other Partnership activities (such as face-to-face meetings, special visits to laboratories or other facilities, and reviews such as the National Research Council review) and planning and participation in DEER (formerly “Diesel Engine-Efficiency and Emissions Research,” now “Directions in Engine-Efficiency and Emissions Research”) conferences.

These meetings typically last no more than 2 hours, with time reserved for industry partners to speak among themselves, for government personnel to speak among themselves, and for industry and government to speak together.

The foregoing description of the overall program management process, originally published in the NRC Phase 1 report (NRC, 2008), has been updated here to reflect the current Partnership practices. It reflects the Partnership’s responses to questions from the committee during this Phase 2 review dated November 4, 2010.

The original Partnership structure—which has been characterized as a virtual network2 of agencies and government laboratories, with agency personnel meeting frequently and industry partners meeting periodically for limited sharing and communication—was judged to be far from ideal. Accordingly, in the NRC Phase 1 report, the committee found that, in summary, the 21CTP effectiveness could be improved by:

•   Adhering to the agreed program budget spanning the agencies,

•   Appointing a full-time executive director to provide project management and set unified priorities,

•   Setting realistic programmatic goals and objectives with stretch targets, and

•   Empowering the 21CTP Executive Committee with authority to act collaboratively across agencies on program decisions and implementation, using a rigorous go/no-go process.

The formal Partnership response to this Phase 1 assessment was that “The Partnership continues to examine its organization and management structure as part of its ongoing self assessment efforts” (in Appendix C in this report, see Phase1 Finding and Recommendation 2-1 and the 21CTP response).

On November 4, 2010, the Partnership elaborated further on the program management structure as follows: “By design, and de facto by statutory mandate, the 21CTP itself has no direct control over research activities, funding, or regulations in any of the participating agencies or by its industrial partners. Rather, each participating agency follows its own organizational structure and policies for both decision making and funding for research and development.”

Overall, the committee found the Partnership’s responses to the 51 NRC Phase 1 report recommendations to be very satisfactory, particularly with regard to the move toward funding the development of vehicle hardware and the demonstration of advanced concepts deemed to be of merit. Although the specific responses to two program management recommendations were somewhat disappointing (in Appendix C, see Recommendations 2-1 and 2-2 and the 21CTP responses), the committee understands that the Partnership was indeed formed as a virtual network, with each agency responsible for its own activities and budget, and that gives the DOE a very limited mandate. Within this limited mandate, the DOE has an effective process for reviewing and managing its own projects and for maintaining focus on the stated Partnership goals. Interagency collaboration is mixed, however: under the 21CTP umbrella, collaboration between the DOE and DOT appears strong, whereas that with and between the EPA and DOD is weak, as one would expect, because the two agencies have different objectives. The collaboration between the EPA and DOT on the NPRM on heavy-duty vehicle fuel consumption standards (EPA/NHTSA, 2010) was strong.

In addition to the committee’s hearing a DOD presentation at its meeting on November 15, 2010, a committee subgroup visited the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC), in Warren, Michigan, on January 10, 2011, to review 21CTP-related projects. Although the DOD places a high priority on reduced energy consumption, it is necessarily focused on the needs of the soldier, with exemptions from emissions regulations and emphasis on high power density and JP-8 fuel. Consequently, there is little synergy with the needs of the commercial heavy-truck industry.

The national laboratories conduct many DOE programs as part of, or synergistically with the 21CTP. Examples of such programs include those on advanced combustion engine research, fuels research, aftertreatment, propulsion materials, lightweight materials, hybrid simulation, vehicle parasitic loss, and unregulated pollutants projects. In addition to developing new technologies in the respective areas, these programs foster ongoing technical interchange with industry at the working level, thereby facilitating collaboration

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2 The committee and others have referred to the organization of this program as a “virtual network” or “virtual structure” or “virtual management” because there are no clear lines of authority across the various agencies. As discussed in the NRC Phase 1 report (NRC, 2008) and in this chapter, there is no overall management structure with authority vested in a central manager whose direction is followed by other agency managers associated with the Partnership.

Suggested Citation:"2 Management Strategy and Priority Setting." National Research Council. 2012. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13288.
×

between the national laboratories, the government agencies, universities, and industry. This collaboration ensures that the national laboratories know industry’s needs and have its input while ensuring that industry has knowledge of the developing technologies at the national laboratories.

Combustion modeling is an outstanding example of a technology developed collaboratively at the national laboratories and universities that has been adopted to fulfill the needs of industry for modeling to improve on and develop new combustion systems, identify promising engine operating configurations, and reduce hardware testing. By continuing to focus programs in the national laboratories on the fundamental aspects of the needs of industry and/or government agencies, timely transition of mobility technologies from the laboratory to practice can be facilitated.

PRIORITIZATION OF PROJECTS

The organizational structure of the 21CTP precludes any systematic prioritization of research projects for the total program. Each of the four agencies included in the 21CTP has its own separate budgets and priorities. The industrial partners also have their own needs, priorities, and resources. As a consequence, the program-wide prioritization that does occur is the result of a complex interaction (summarized in Figures 2-1 through 2-3) among government agencies, the industrial partners, the national laboratories, and the Congress and the Office of Management and Budget.

In summary, the primary intent of the 21CTP is to facilitate communication among the many partners to avoid duplication of effort, to communicate technical achievements, and to provide financial support to assist in moving new technology through development to commercialization.

In the NRC Phase 1 report, the committee recommended the creation of “a portfolio management process that sets priorities and aligns budgets among the agencies and industrial partners” (NRC, 2008, Recommendation 2-2). In response, the Partnership stated that although this recommendation “will be considered … the ability to directly align budgetary decisions across the agencies, however desirable, may be outside the scope of this voluntarily collaborative organization” (see Appendix C). For the reasons cited above, the committee concluded that, although indeed highly desirable, such a portfolio management process is simply not likely to happen with the decentralized nature of the Partnership.

Although prioritization across agencies is unlikely to happen in any meaningful way, the DOE has focused much of its 21CTP effort going forward on three SuperTruck projects, two funded with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, Public Law 111-5) funds and one receiving DOE internal funds. These projects, detailed in Chapters 3 and 8, are directed towards demonstrating feasibility, fuel efficiency, and emissions compliance with full vehicle hardware, as recommended in the NRC Phase 1 report. The committee applauds the prioritization of available ARRA and DOE funds on these projects.

In the process of moving a new concept from research idea to commercial product, DOE research organizations use the general process shown in Figure 2-4. The “Basic Research” steps are clearly dominated by DOE laboratories and “Commercial Research and Design” by industry. Research results and budget proposals are thoroughly reviewed. Those not approved or having marginal benefit go into the “Valley of Death” where they remain until circumstances change.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

In summary, the 21CTP is operated as a virtual network of agencies, industry, and government laboratories, and it is difficult in many cases to identify individual Agency priorities and budgets. As in the Phase 1 review, the committee is con-

image

FIGURE 2-4 Department of Energy project management and innovation process. Acronyms are defined in Appendix I. SOURCE: Submitted to the committee by the DOE Office of Vehicle Technologies, January 29, 2011.

_____________________

2 The committee and others have referred to the organization of this program as a “virtual network” or “virtual structure” or “virtual management” because there are no clear lines of authority across the various agencies. As discussed in the NRC Phase 1 report (NRC, 2008) and in this chapter, there is no overall management structure with authority vested in a central manager whose direction is followed by other agency managers associated with the Partnership.

Suggested Citation:"2 Management Strategy and Priority Setting." National Research Council. 2012. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13288.
×

cerned about the lack of stable year-to-year funding. However, despite its unwieldy structure and budgetary process, it has made significant progress, and the outlook for continued success is bright, barring any major funding issues.

Following are the committee’s findings and recommendations with respect to the management, strategy, and priority setting of the 21st Century Truck Partnership.

Finding 2-1. The 21CTP is a virtual organization facilitating communication among four agencies, government laboratories, and industry, but it has no direct control over research activities or funding across the agencies or by its industry partners. The committee continues to believe that the lack of single-point 21CTP authority is far from optimal, although it recognizes that this is necessary because of the various Congressional committees that the agencies report to and that provide their budgets.

Recommendation 2-1. The DOE is urged to continue to improve the functioning of the 21CTP “virtual” management structure in every way possible. Such improved functioning would include strengthening interagency collaboration (particularly that involving the EPA and DOD)3 and documenting and publishing specific 21CTP activity within all four agencies.

Finding 2-2. The EPA, DOD, and DOT did not have a well-defined list of the projects and associated budgets that were included under the 21CTP umbrella. This stems in part from the virtual nature of the Partnership and partly, particularly within the DOE, from the natural overlap in activities on batteries, hybrids, materials, and other areas between the activities for light-duty vehicles and the 21CTP. While many of these activities are reviewed at the annual DOE Merit Review and at Directions in Engine-Efficiency and Emissions Research (DEER) conferences, and the new SuperTruck projects include an annual reporting requirement, there is no dedicated report for the 21CTP.

Recommendation 2-2. The DOE should issue a brief annual report documenting the specific projects within the 21CTP and the progress made. The annual report should provide references to published technical reports from the involved agencies. This would especially help outside groups, future review committees, the Congress, and others to understand the structure, activities, and progress of the Partnership.

REFERENCES

DOE (U.S. Department of Energy). 2006. 21st Century Truck Partnership Roadmap and Technical White Papers. Document No. 21CTP-003. Washington, D.C.: Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies.

DOE. 2010. Updated 21st Century Truck Partnership Roadmap and Technical White Papers. Working draft, September 1, 2010. Washington, D.C.: Office of Vehicle Technologies.

DOE. 2011. Updated 21st Century Truck Partnership Technical White Papers. Working draft, February 25, 2011. Washington, D.C.: Office of Vehicle Technologies.

EPA/NHTSA (Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). 2010. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles. Dockets No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0162 and No. NHTSA-2010-0079, October 25, 2010. Available at http://www.regulations.gov.

EPA/NHTSA. 2011.Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles, Final Rules, September 25, 2011. Available at http://www.nhtsa.gov/fuel-economy.

NRC (National Research Council). 2008. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

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3 Subsequent to the committee’s review of 21CTP programs, the DOE and the DOD entered into the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance (AVPTA) partnership on July 18, 2011. See, for example, “DOE, Army Alliance Underlines Achieving Energy Security” by Chris Williams, available at http://www.army.mil/article/62727/. Accessed October 18, 2011.

Suggested Citation:"2 Management Strategy and Priority Setting." National Research Council. 2012. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13288.
×
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Suggested Citation:"2 Management Strategy and Priority Setting." National Research Council. 2012. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13288.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Management Strategy and Priority Setting." National Research Council. 2012. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13288.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Management Strategy and Priority Setting." National Research Council. 2012. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13288.
×
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Suggested Citation:"2 Management Strategy and Priority Setting." National Research Council. 2012. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13288.
×
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Suggested Citation:"2 Management Strategy and Priority Setting." National Research Council. 2012. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13288.
×
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In July 2010, the National Research Council (NRC) appointed the Committee to Review the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Phase 2, to conduct an independent review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership (21CTP). The 21CTP is a cooperative research and development (R&D) partnership including four federal agencies-the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-and 15 industrial partners. The purpose of this Partnership is to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, increase heavy-duty vehicle safety, and support research, development, and demonstration to initiate commercially viable products and systems. This is the NRC's second report on the topic and it includes the committee's review of the Partnership as a whole, its major areas of focus, 21CTP's management and priority setting, efficient operations, and the new SuperTruck program.

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