U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao has tapped Mala Parker to be Acting Deputy Administrator at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
Parker will serve under FHWA Administrator Nicole Nason as well maintain her current position as Associate Administrator for Highway Policy and External Affairs. She replaces FHWA Deputy Administrator Brandye Hendrickson, who recently left the agency to serve as Deputy Director for the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials.
Prior to joining FHWA in 2017, Parker developed transportation policy alliances across supply chain modes at the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
“I am honored Secretary Chao has entrusted me with the additional responsibilities of Acting Deputy Administrator of FHWA,” Parker said in a statement. “I look forward to working even more closely with the Department’s leadership, my FHWA colleagues, and our stakeholders to build on our efforts to enhance safety and modernize our nation’s roads and bridges.”
FHWA oversees several federal aid programs, including the Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) and National Highway Performance Program (NHPP). Funds from these programs can be used to improve the National Highway System, which handles approximately 55 percent of the country’s vehicle miles traveled and 83 percent of truck travel, including most of the heavy truck movement across multiple state lines, according to the agency.
As Associate Administrator for Highway Policy, Parker oversees the Office of Highway Policy Information, which serves as the federal source for surface transportation data to inform DOT and Congress on policies and performance goals. It is also tasked with “striving to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of data collection and analysis on travelers and the physical, operational and financial condition of our transportation system.”
Parker is also responsible for preparing major reports to Congress on highway policy and for forecasting travel trends for both the private and commercial sectors. She has led efforts at the agency to create a “national dialogue” on highway automation, including focus areas on truck platooning and automated truck freight delivery issues and their effect on traffic patterns and operations.
Before her time at ATA, Parker served as a senior adviser in the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor, as a staff member on Capitol Hill, and as an advocate for the National Association of Home Builders.