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United States Secretary of Transportation

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United States Secretary of Transportation
Seal of the Department of Transportation
Flag of the secretary
Pete Buttigieg
since February 3, 2021
United States Department of Transportation
StyleMr. Secretary (informal)
The Honorable (formal)
Member ofthe United States Cabinet
Reports tothe President of the United States
SeatWashington, D.C.
AppointerPresident of the United States
with Senate advice and consent
Term lengthNo fixed term
Constituting instrument49 U.S.C. § 102
FormationOctober 15, 1966
(57 years ago)
First holderAlan Stephenson Boyd
DeputyDeputy Secretary of Transportation
SalaryExecutive Schedule, Level I

The United States secretary of transportation is the head of the United States Department of Transportation. The secretary serves as the principal advisor to the President of the United States on all matters relating to transportation. The secretary is a statutory member of the Cabinet of the United States, and is fourteenth in the presidential line of succession.[1]

The secretary of transportation oversees the U.S. Department of Transportation, which has over 55,000 employees and thirteen agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.[2] As of January 2021, the secretary receives an annual salary of $221,400.[3][4]

Pete Buttigieg has served as the secretary of transportation since February 3, 2021. He was confirmed by the United States Senate by a vote of 86–13 on February 2, 2021.[5] Buttigieg is the first openly gay man to hold the position, the first openly gay Cabinet secretary and the youngest person to serve as secretary of transportation.[6]


The post was created on October 15, 1966, by the Department of Transportation Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.[2] The department's mission is "to develop and coordinate policies that will provide an efficient and economical national transportation system, with due regard for need, the environment, and the national defense."[2]

The first secretary of transportation was Alan S. Boyd, nominated to the post by Democratic president Lyndon B. Johnson. Ronald Reagan's second secretary of transportation, Elizabeth Dole, was the first female holder, and Mary Peters was the second. Gerald Ford's nominee William Thaddeus Coleman Jr. was the first African American to serve as transportation secretary, and Federico Peña, serving under Bill Clinton, was the first Hispanic to hold the position, subsequently becoming the secretary of energy. Japanese-American Norman Mineta, who had previously been the secretary of commerce, is the longest-serving secretary, holding the post for over five and a half years,[2] and Andrew Card is the shortest-serving secretary, serving only eleven months. Pete Buttigieg is the youngest secretary, taking office at 39 years 15 days old, overtaking Neil Goldschmidt as the youngest secretary, taking office at 39 years 3 months old,[7] while Norman Mineta was the oldest, retiring at age 74.[8] In April 2008, Mary Peters launched the official blog of the secretary of transportation called The Fast Lane.[9] On January 23, 2009, the 16th secretary, Ray LaHood, took office, serving under the administration of Democrat Barack Obama; he had previously been a Republican Congressman from Illinois for fourteen years.[10]

Anthony Foxx was the 17th U.S. secretary of transportation from 2013 to 2017, when Barack Obama was the president. Elaine Chao, who served as the secretary of labor under President George W. Bush, was nominated by Donald Trump on November 29, 2016. On January 31, 2017, the Senate confirmed her appointment by a vote of 93–6. On January 7, 2021, Chao announced her resignation following the January 6 United States Capitol attack, effective January 11.[11] On January 11, 2021, acting Deputy Secretary of Transportation Steven G. Bradbury became acting Secretary of Transportation.

List of secretaries of transportation[edit]


  Democratic (8)   Republican (11)


  Denotes acting Secretary of Transportation

No. Portrait Secretary State of residence Took office Left office President
serving under
1 Black-and-white photo of a balding man in a suit and striped tie Alan S. Boyd Florida January 16, 1967 January 20, 1969 Lyndon B. Johnson
2 Black-and-white photo of man in a suit and black tie John Volpe Massachusetts January 22, 1969 February 2, 1973 Richard Nixon
3 Color photo of a bald man wearing glasses and a suit with a striped tie Claude Brinegar California February 2, 1973 February 1, 1975
Gerald R. Ford
4 Black-and-white photo of an African American man in a suit wearing glasses looking to his left William Thaddeus Coleman Jr. Pennsylvania March 7, 1975 January 20, 1977
5 Black-and-white photo of a man in a suit smiling Brock Adams Washington January 23, 1977 July 20, 1979 Jimmy Carter
6 Black-and-white photo of a man with a wide smile and short curly hair wearing a light-colored suit Neil Goldschmidt Oregon September 24, 1979 January 20, 1981
7 Black-and-white photo of a man wearing a suit sitting at a desk with his hands folded on it and the DOT logo and US flag behind him Drew Lewis Pennsylvania January 23, 1981 February 1, 1983 Ronald Reagan
8 Photo of a smiling woman wearing earrings Elizabeth Dole Kansas February 7, 1983 September 30, 1987
9 Black-and-white photo of a man in a suit and combed-over hair with the US flag behind him James H. Burnley IV North Carolina December 3, 1987 January 20, 1989
10 Smiling man with thinning hair wearing a suit and a blue tie with the US flag behind him Samuel K. Skinner Illinois February 6, 1989 December 13, 1991 George H. W. Bush
11 Smiling man wearing a suit and a red tie Andrew Card Massachusetts February 24, 1992 January 20, 1993
12 Hispanic man with large glasses and black hair with the US flag behind him Federico Peña Colorado January 21, 1993 February 14, 1997 Bill Clinton
13 African American man with short hair and a short mustache Rodney E. Slater Arkansas February 14, 1997 January 20, 2001

Acting United States Secretary of Transportation Mortimer L. Downey III
Virginia January 20, 2001 January 25, 2001 George W. Bush
14 Older Japanese American man with glasses wearing a suit with a red tie with the US flag behind him Norman Mineta California January 25, 2001 August 7, 2006

Acting United States Secretary of Transportation Maria Cino
New York August 7, 2006 October 17, 2006
15 Woman with long brown hair with the US flag behind her Mary E. Peters Arizona October 17, 2006 January 20, 2009
16 Ray LaHood Illinois January 23, 2009 July 2, 2013 Barack Obama
17 Mayor Anthony Foxx, Charlotte NC Anthony Foxx North Carolina July 2, 2013 January 20, 2017
Michael Huerta
California January 20, 2017 January 31, 2017 Donald Trump
18 Elaine Chao Kentucky January 31, 2017 January 11, 2021
Steven G. Bradbury
Oregon January 12, 2021 January 20, 2021
Lana Hurdle
Virginia January 20, 2021 February 3, 2021 Joe Biden
19 Pete Buttigieg Indiana February 3, 2021 Incumbent

Line of succession[edit]

The line of succession regarding who would act as Secretary of Transportation in the event of a vacancy or incapacitation is as follows:[12]

  1. Deputy Secretary of Transportation
  2. Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy
  3. General Counsel
  4. Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs
  5. Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy
  6. Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs
  7. Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs
  8. Assistant Secretary for Administration
  9. Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration
  10. Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration
  11. Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
  12. Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration
  13. Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration
  14. Administrator of the Maritime Administration
  15. Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
  16. Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  17. Administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration
  18. Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation
  19. Regional Administrator, Southern Region, Federal Aviation Administration
  20. Director, Resource Center, Lakewood, Colorado, Federal Highway Administration
  21. Regional Administrator, Northwest Mountain Region, Federal Aviation Administration


  • "Biographical Sketches of the Secretaries of Transportation". U.S. Department of Transportation. August 14, 2009. Archived from the original on March 16, 2011. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  1. ^ a b 3 U.S.C. § 19: Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act.
  2. ^ a b c d Grinder, R. Dale. "The United States Department of Transportation: A Brief History". U.S. Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on July 17, 2004. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  3. ^ "Salary Table No. 2021-EX Rates of Basic Pay for the Executive Schedule (EX)" (PDF).
  4. ^ 5 U.S.C. § 5312: Positions at level I.
  5. ^ O'Connell, Oliver (February 2, 2021). "Pete Buttigieg becomes first openly gay cabinet member after historic Senate vote". The Independent. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  6. ^ Shear, Michael D.; Kaplan, Thomas (December 16, 2020). "Buttigieg Recalls Discrimination Against Gay People, as Biden Celebrates Cabinet's Diversity". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 24, 2021.
  7. ^ Josephs, Leslie (February 2, 2021). "Senate confirms Pete Buttigieg as Transportation secretary". CNBC. Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  8. ^ "Biographical Sketches of the Secretaries of Transportation". U.S. Department of Transportation. August 14, 2009. Archived from the original on March 16, 2011. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  9. ^ "A Chronology of Dates Significant in the Background, History and Development of the Department of Transportation". U.S. Department of Transportation. August 14, 2009. Archived from the original on February 15, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  10. ^ "Ray LaHood—Secretary of Transportation". U.S. Department of Transportation. July 22, 2009. Archived from the original on September 28, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  11. ^ Kaitlan Collins, Jeremy Diamond, Kevin Liptak and Kate Bennett. "Second Cabinet member announces resignation over Trump's response to riot". CNN.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Obama, Barack (January 14, 2009). "Executive Order 13485: Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Transportation". NASA Online Directives Information System. Retrieved January 2, 2010.

External links[edit]

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Order of precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Transportation
Succeeded byas Secretary of Energy
U.S. presidential line of succession
Preceded by 14th in line Succeeded by