Message from Leadership

CMTS Chair

Elaine L. Chao, Secretary of Transportation, Chair of the CMTS

Elaine L. Chao

Secretary of Transportation
Chair of the CMTS

Secretary Elaine L. Chao is currently the U. S. Secretary of Transportation. This is her second cabinet position. She served as U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2001-January 2009, and is the first Asian American woman to be appointed to the President's cabinet in American history.

Secretary Chao comes to the U.S. Department of Transportation with extensive experience in the transportation sector. Early in her career, she specialized in transportation financing in the private sector. She began her executive career in public service working on transportation and trade issues at the White House. She then served as Deputy Maritime Administrator, U. S. Department of Transportation; Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission; and, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Secretary Chao understands the critical role of the Department in ensuring the safety of our country’s transportation systems. She is also keenly aware of the key role infrastructure plays in our nation’s economic competitiveness, and in strengthening economic growth in both the urban and rural areas of our country.

Secretary Chao has a distinguished career in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. An immigrant who arrived in America at the age of eight speaking no English, she received her citizenship at the age of 19. Her experience transitioning to a new country has motivated her to devote most of her professional life to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to build better lives for themselves and their families. As U.S. Secretary of Labor, she focused on increasing the competitiveness of America’s workforce in a global economy, promoted job creation, and achieved record results in workplace safety and health.

Prior to the Department of Labor, Secretary Chao was President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America, where she restored public trust and confidence in one of America’s premier institutions of private charitable giving, after it had been tarnished by financial mismanagement and abuse. Secretary Chao also served as Director of the Peace Corps, where she established the first programs in the Baltic nations and the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union.

Secretary Chao earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School and an economics degree from Mount Holyoke College. Honored for her extensive record of accomplishments and public service, she is the recipient of 36 honorary doctorate degrees.

Secretary Chao is a resident of Jefferson County, Kentucky. Prior to her appointment as Secretary of Transportation, she was a Distinguished Fellow at Hudson Institute. She is the eldest of six daughters born to Dr. James S.C. Chao and the late Mrs. Ruth Mulan Chu Chao.

Coordinating Board Chair

Major General Scott Spellmon, CMTS Coordinating Board

Major General Scott Spellmon

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chair
CMTS Coordinating Board

Major General Scott Spellmon, Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Headquarters, has been selected by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to lead the CMTS Coordinating Board. The Coordinating Board is the subcabinet function of the CMTS, made up of over 25 Federal agencies engaged in maritime transportation issues and oversight. General Spellmon will lead much of the day to day policy guidance for the CMTS and oversee the implementation of a 12-month work plan beginning August 1, 2018.

In his capacity with USACE, General Spellmon is responsible for the nationwide USACE Civil Works program which includes water resource development activities such as flood risk management, navigation, recreation, and infrastructure and environmental stewardship. His duties will also include oversight of the USACE mission to respond to natural and manmade emergencies.

CMTS Executive Director, Helen A Brohl, stated, "We are grateful to Secretary Mattis for selecting a great leader and Army engineer to lead the CMTS partnership, and look forward to a productive year supporting the Nation's Marine Transportation System."

Executive Director, Executive Secretariat

Helen Brohl, Exec Director, CMTS

Helen Brohl

Executive Director
U.S. Committee on the Marine Transportation System

On October 17, 2017, Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao signed the CMTS National Strategy for the Marine Transportation System (MTS): Channeling the Maritime Advantage. This new Strategy for 2017-2022 replaces the first national MTS strategy, which was completed in 2008. As we think back to the development of the first strategy, we recognize how far the interagency partnership has progressed in the past 10 years! The 2008 strategy made 34 recommendations — a "kitchen sink" of ideas that sought to include every thought proposed by the member agencies. While it proved challenging to address all 34 recommendations, the mere achievement of gathering 25+ Federal agencies for the first time to address the needs of the MTS was, in itself, a great success. The 2017-2022 National MTS Strategy puts to rest the first strategy with an appendix that includes a final report on the way in which the CMTS and agency members addressed 27 of the 34 actions identified in 2008.

We now move to implement a dynamic program related to 14 actions under 5 priority areas:

  • Optimize System Performance
  • Enhance Maritime Safety
  • Support Maritime Security
  • Advance Energy Innovation and Development
  • Facilitate Infrastructure Investment

The CMTS Research and Development team is already addressing all priority areas by engaging with freight transportation experts at the Department of Transportation to develop a high-fidelity, multi-modal freight flow model that includes the water-side data components. The CMTS will join with the Transportation Research Board to hold a research and development conference at the National Academy of Sciences, June 19-21, 2018, where particular emphasis will be placed on sharing methodologies and data to improving the efficacy of freight forecasting through data harmonization, management, convergence, and collaboration among freight and marine transportation system stakeholders and sectors. (For more information, visit the Transportation Research Board website)

The US Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the US Army Corps of Engineers are leading our Future of Navigation Integrated Action Team (IAT) to enhance navigation safety and service through enhanced marine safety information (eMSI) and harmonization of standards related to navigable waters toward fully implementing eNavigation. Our MTS Data IAT had successfully implemented a maritime tab on and is now working to support the Bureau of Transportation requirements related to port freight performance statistics, as well as enhance interagency engagement and use of automatic identification system (AIS) data. Our ad hoc maritime security team is compiling a list of the myriad of interagency and advisory committees working with maritime security in order to advance security policy-related information sharing. The MTS Infrastructure Investment Team issued the third edition of the Federal Funding Handbook for Marine Transportation System Infrastructure. The most popular of the CMTS publications, this new edition organizes 85 funding programs by type and includes a new "User's Guide" and a FAQ section. The CMTS work plan also seeks to expand stakeholder outreach.

The CMTS is an extraordinary Federal interagency partnership of over 25 active members, including White House offices, and as the organization grows in membership, so does its value. We remain indebted to the many agency members who provide expertise and resources to the Executive Secretariat and CMTS activities.