On January 12 during the State of the Union address, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his intention to create a Department of Transportation.
On April 1, the Department of Transportation began operations.
Alan S Boyd
On January 16, Alan S. Boyd was sworn in as the first U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Judge James Durfee of the U.S. Court of Claims administered the oath in the East Room of the White House as Mrs. Boyd and President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson looked on. The President said Secretary Boyd's major assignment would be to "coordinate a National Transportation Policy."
A key figure in the establishment and organization of the new department, Secretary Boyd served as the Undersecretary of Commerce for Transportation and had six years’ experience with the Civil Aeronautics Board before becoming the first Secretary of Transportation. During his tenure, the first national highway safety and federal motor carrier vehicle standards were issued and the Urban Mass Transportation Administration was transferred from Housing and Urban Development to the USDOT. He was later president of Amtrak and joined the Airbus Industries of North America.
John A. Volpe
On January 22, Chief Justice Earl Warren administered the oath of office to Secretary of Transportation John A. Volpe in a White House ceremony as President Richard Nixon looked on. Volpe was the first Federal Highway Administrator to later become Secretary of Transportation.
During his tenure, Volpe established the National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) as a separate operating administration and passed laws to modernize the Nation's airport-airways system, upgrade urban transit systems (using the highway trust fund for the first time), and create the national rail passenger system (Amtrak). With Volpe appointee General Benjamin O. Davis, the Federal Aviation Administration instituted an anti-hijacking program. In 1990, the Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, MA, was renamed in honor of then-former Secretary Volpe.
Claude S. Brinegar
Chief Justice Warren Burger administered the oath of office to Claude S. Brinegar along with 19 other cabinet and subcabinet members on February 2. Although President Richard Nixon introduced the Chief Justice at the ceremony he did not stay to watch his nominees take the oath office because of a meeting at the British Embassy.
Secretary Brinegar confronted railroad revitalization and regulatory reform, reauthorization of Federal highway programs, and the impact of transportation on energy consumption and on the environment. During his tenure, he championed legislation that led to the creation of Conrail, the government-owned freight railroad in the Northeast, adoption of a national speed limit of 55 m.p.h. as a fuel conservation measure, and the creation of Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. Later Brinegar became Vice Chairman of the Unocal Corporation.
William T. Coleman Jr.
On March 7, in a White House ceremony attended by President Gerald R. Ford, William T. Coleman, Jr., became the first African-American to serve as Secretary of Transportation. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Coleman’s friend and colleague, administered the oath of office. President Ford told the guests that the new Secretary had a mandate to help save energy, develop mass transportation, strengthen the railroads, and ensure an equitable and stern enforcement of the 55 m.p.h. speed limit brought on by oil shortages. His tenure would be marked by direct involvement in settling highway controversies.
During his tenure, he created the first Statement of National Transportation Policy in U.S. history. He also opened the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's automobile test facility at East Liberty, Ohio, and established the Materials Transportation Bureau to address pipeline safety and the safe shipment of hazardous materials. In, perhaps, his most controversial decision, Coleman allowed limited transatlantic service for the supersonic transport plant, the Concorde, a decision which angered the majority of environmental groups concerned largely with the effects of noise pollution. Close on the heels of the Concorde decision in terms of controversy was Coleman's decision to defer the mandatory installation of airbags in all new automobiles. On leaving the department, Coleman returned to Philadelphia and subsequently became a partner in the Washington office of the Los Angeles-based law firm O'Melveny & Myers. On September 29, 1995, President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1983, with the election quickly approaching, the Reagan administration stopped supporting the IRS's position against Bob Jones University that overtly discriminatory groups were ineligible for certain tax exemptions. Coleman was appointed to argue the now unsupported lower court position before the Supreme Court, and won in Bob Jones University v. United States.
Chief Justice Warren Burger swore in Brock Adams as Secretary of Transportation, in a low key ceremony on February 1 that included the administering of the oath to other Cabinet members.
As Secretary, Adams challenged the auto industry to make dramatic changes in design to achieve greater fuel efficiency and mandated the installation of airbags. He strongly supported significant regulatory reform in transportation, and oversaw a major program for repair and improvement of railway service along the Boston-to-Washington DC, corridor. He also achieved domestic airline deregulation in 1978 legislation. Adams later served as the senior U. S. Senator for the State of Washington.
Multnomah County, Oregon, Circuit Court Judge Irving Steinbock administered the oath of office to Neil Goldschmidt on August 15, with Goldschmidt’s wife Margaret and President Jimmy Carter in attendance.
During his tenure, Goldschmidt oversaw the enactment of regulations for child restraints in vehicles, and established the new Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization established within the Department. Under his term, both the Stagger Rail Act and the Motor Carrier Act were passed, deregulating the railroad and trucking industries, respectively. He also created the National Task Force on Ridesharing to encourage carpooling and vanpooling as ways to save fuel. Goldschmidt served as Governor of Oregon from 1987-1991, and then opened his own law practice.
Drew Lewis became Secretary of Transportation on January 23.
As Secretary, Lewis led the administration’s support for legislation to allow the sale of the government's interest in Conrail. In 1981, the Maritime Administration transferred to DOT from the Commerce Department. During the PATCO (air traffic controllers union) strike in 1981, Lewis, working with the Federal Aviation Administration, helped to keep the air transport system running safely. He provided support that led to passage of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, a comprehensive transportation funding and policy act. The companion Highway Revenue Act of 1982 added a nickel to the gas tax (the first such increase since 1961), with four cents dedicated to restore interstate highways and bridges, and one cent for public transit. The Act also set a goal of 10 percent for participation of disadvantaged business enterprises in federal-aid projects. Lewis went on to chair the Union Pacific Corporation in Bethlehem, PA.
Elizabeth Hanford Dole
On February 1, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor administered the oath of office to Elizabeth Hanford Dole, who became the first woman to serve as Secretary of Transportation. President Ronald Reagan looked on as Mrs. Mary Hanford, Dole's mother held the Bible.
Secretary Dole helped resolve many safety-related issues, resulting in deadlines for installing airbags and other passive restraints in motor vehicles, major increases in seat belt usage by the public and incentives to manufacturers who equip new cars with airbags. She turned over the Federal Aviation Administration's National and Dulles airports in the Washington, DC, area to regional authority and was a leader in privatizing federal assets, including the $1.9 billion sale of government-owned Conrail. Mrs. Dole later served as the president of the Red Cross.
James H. Burnley, IV
Judge Kenneth Starr swore in James H. Burnley, IV, as Secretary of Transportation in the Roosevelt Room of the White House with President Ronald Reagan in attendance on December 3. Burnley served as deputy secretary and general counsel during Secretary Dole's administration and was appointed secretary in 1987 upon her departure.
As Secretary, he emphasized programs to eliminate drug use by issuing regulations requiring testing of employees in safety of security-sensitive positions in transportation-related industries. He implemented policies to encourage greater private sector participation in meeting transportation needs, and supported Coast Guard efforts to upgrade equipment and facilities. Burnley moved on to the law firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts, and Trowbridge.
Samuel K Skinner
U.S. District Court Judge Joel M. Flaum administered the oath of office to Samuel K. Skinner on February 6, in the Federal Aviation Administration auditorium, with President Reagan and Illinois Governor James R. Thompson in attendance.
Dubbed the "Master of Disaster," Skinner handled crises including the Eastern Airlines strike; the Exxon Valdez oil spill; a California earthquake; Hurricane Hugo; and civilian transportation support for Operation Desert Shield/Dessert Storm. He issued a comprehensive National Transportation Policy to guide transportation into the 21st century. During his tenure, legislation was passed to reduce aircraft noise, expand airport capacity, and authorize a landmark Federal surface transportation program. Skinner became White House Chief of Staff in December 1991.
Andrew H. Card
On March 11, Supreme Court Justice Clarence D. Thomas administered the oath of Office to Andrew H. Card under a DC-3 in the main hall of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.
During the summer of 1992, President Bush named Card to head a task force to coordinate Federal disaster recovery efforts following Hurricane Andrew, the most devastating natural disaster in recent American history, sweeping across the Bahamas and devastating the transportation infrastructure and some 200,000 people living on Florida's southeastern coast and in parts of Louisiana. Later in his tenure, Card called for the formation of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, to establish guides for all the data collected by the USDOT, and to publish this information, making it available inside and outside the Government. Card also signed an agreement with the EPA and Department of the Army streamlining the NEPA and Section 404 wetlands permit processes.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist swore in 16 Clinton nominees simultaneously, including Federico Peña as Secretary of Transportation. Federico F. Peña began his service as the 12th Secretary of Transportation on January 21. Peña later served as Secretary of Energy under President Clinton.
During his term, he increased the global competitiveness of the transportation industry; improved the safety of travel; streamlined the Department of Transportation, and invested more in the Nation's infrastructure than any other Secretary serving before him. Among his accomplishments, Peña signed aviation agreements with 40 nations opening lucrative markets for American airlines and cargo carriers as well as fostering easier travel for Americans and tourist to the U.S. He also downsized the USDOT workforce by 11,000 positions, while upsizing transportation infrastructure investments by 10 percent. Upon leaving DOT, Peña joined the private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners.
Rodney E. Slater
In a ceremony held in the Oval Office on February 14, Tennessee Federal District Judge Curtis Collier, a friend of Rodney Slater's from his hometown of Marianna, Arkansas swore in Rodney E. Slater was sworn as the Secretary of Transportation. Slater was nominated to the post after serving as Federal Highway Administrator since 1993. President Bill Clinton said in nominating Mr. Slater to the post of Secretary, "He has built bridges both of steel and of goodwill to bring people closer together." He is only the second person in history to hold both posts – the first was John A. Volpe.
As Secretary, Slater succeeded in gaining bipartisan support in congress for his projects. In particular, the passage of the Transportation Equity act for the 21 Century made a record $200 billion investment in surface transportation. The Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment Reform Act for the 21st Century provided $46 billion to provide safety and security of the nation’s aviation system. He also negotiated 40 Open Skies agreements with other countries. Under his leadership, the first International Transportation Symposium was held, with representatives of more than ninety countries in attendance. After his tenure at DOT, Slater joined the Washington, DC-based law firm Patton Boggs LLP.
Norman Y. Mineta
On January 25, Vice President Dick Cheney swore Norman Y. Mineta in as Secretary of Transportation in the White House Oval Office, with President George W. Bush in attendance. He had been offered the post eight years previously by Bill Clinton, but had turned down. He was the only Democrat to have served in Bush's cabinet and the first Secretary of Transportation to have previously served in a cabinet position. He had served as Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton from 2000-2001. He became the first Asian American to hold the position, and only the fourth person to be a member of Cabinet under two Presidents from different political parties. Mineta had served as member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975-1995.
As Secretary of Transportation, Mineta worked to repair and reopen major highways, seaports, and airports after Hurricane Katrina. He oversaw the closing of and reopening of the national airspace system after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He also guided the creation of the Transportation Security Administration – an agency with more than 65,000 employees – the largest mobilization of a new federal agency since World War II. In mid–December of 2004, Mineta unveiled the Next Generation Air Transportation System plan, a collaboration of six federal agencies to modernize the air traffic system. After leaving the White House, Secretary Mineta served as Vice Chairman of Hill & Knowlton based in its Washington, DC office, providing counsel and strategic advice to clients on a wide range of business and political issues. Recognized for his leadership, Secretary Mineta has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom – our nation’s highest civilian honor – and the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, which is awarded for significant public service of enduring value to aviation in the United States.
Mary E. Peters
On October 17, Joshua Bolten, President George W. Bush’s chief of staff administered oath of office to Mary E. Peters, with the President and Ms. Peter’s husband in attendance. In 2001, the President asked Peters to lead the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). As FHWA Administrator from 2001 to 2005, she placed special emphasis on finding new ways to invest in road and bridge construction, including innovative public-private partnerships that help build roads faster and at less expense. She also was a strong advocate for using new technology to reduce construction time, saving taxpayer money and resulting in safer, longer-lasting roads and highways.
As Transportation Secretary, Peters took a hardline approach to efficient use of taxpayer dollars, made surface and air congestion reduction a national priority and dramatically improved highway safety numbers. She worked with the Administration and Congress to enact a multi-year surface transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU. She also spearheaded efforts to find new ways to invest in infrastructure and advocated the use of new technology to reduce construction time while saving taxpayer dollars and ensuring safer and stronger roads. She advocated the concept of public-private partnerships to improve transportation infrastructure. Peters opened a transportation consulting office after leaving the Department.
Ray H. LaHood
Linda Washington, Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Administration swore Ray H. LaHood in as the 16th U.S. Secretary of Transportation at the Department of Transportation headquarters building on January 23. LaHood’s wife, Kathy, son, Sam, and Assistant Majority Leader, U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin observed the ceremony.
Secretary LaHood changed the way the Department of Transportation viewed its mandate. He shifted DOT’s emphasis on highways to include a larger discussion of mobility options, from high-speed rail to local transit to biking and even walking. Under LaHood, DOT began talking about smart transportation as an essential ingredient in creating more livable and sustainable communities. He emphasized that transportation was inseparable from housing, education, the environment, and the economy. For the first time, the DOT, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development began coordinating policy. In the 21st century transportation model shepherded by LaHood, state and metropolitan leaders have to come up with their own innovative (and cost-effective) approaches to transportation problems, coordinating with the federal government. He is probably best known for his campaign to stop distracted driving. LaHood subsequently became co-chairman of the infrastructure advocacy group Building America’s Future.
Judge Nathaniel Jones swore in Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as the nation’s 17th Secretary of Transportation in a ceremony at U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters on July 2. The ceremony was attended by Foxx’s wife, Samara, and their two children, Hillary and Zachary. Judge Jones used a Bible belonging to Secretary Foxx’s great-grandparents, Peter and Ida Kelly. Secretary Foxx worked for Judge Jones as a law clerk for the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals after law school and invited Judge Jones to administer the oath of office.
As Secretary, Anthony Foxx is working to improve safety in all modes of transportation. He has issued a final rule advancing commercial pilot training, launched the Everyone Is a Pedestrian initiative, and shut down more than 100 bus companies with the most egregious safety and compliance problems. He also announced the federal government would require vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication in new vehicles, which would help improve safety by allowing vehicles to "talk" to each other so they can warn drivers if a crash is imminent. He issued a record $35 million fine against General Motors because of the automaker’s failure to report a safety defect to the government in a timely manner. Foxx has overseen billions of dollars in grants for transportation infrastructure improvements, led efforts for new oil train safety efforts, and strengthened ties with international partners.