Office of Operations Freight Management and Operations

Position Description for a State-Level Freight Coordinator

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Purpose of Document

With the growth in freight volumes and associated needs and requirements across the country, many State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are hiring professionals to serve as freight specialists and coordinators within their respective organizations. Some State DOTs have also created distinct freight offices or taskforces to deal with current and projected freight demand.

Recognizing this, FHWA reviewed existing position descriptions and incorporated the information from the AASHTO/FHWA Partnership Meeting in Columbus , Ohio into a "freight coordinator" position description that States and MPOs can use in its entirety or in part when filling freight positions. FHWA recognizes that freight positions and their responsibilities will vary by organization. Some positions will have more management responsibilities and possibly a team of freight specialists working in a fully staffed freight office. In other organizations, the freight position may just be one person.

In using this document, States and MPOs are free to use the entire document as they develop position descriptions, or draw upon specific job elements that are relevant to their unique situation.

Position Description for a State-Level Freight Coordinator

The person in this position will serve as the Freight Coordinator for their State. This position is responsible for developing and implementing efforts to improve freight mobility, freight infrastructure, and related operations throughout the State as part of one integrated, multimodal system regardless of funding or ownership (i.e., public, private, or mixed public-private) within the State.

The Freight Coordinator will be responsible for ensuring that all State transportation agencies and divisions integrate freight mobility considerations into their day-to-day business practices and seek opportunities to promote synergies with other statewide policy initiatives. This person will also coordinate public-private, State-local and State-federal freight transportation investment decisions and activities on a statewide and State-to-State basis.

Major Duties:

Possible major freight duties include those related to program management, analysis, communication/coordination, strategic planning, budget/finance, and training. In some organizations, the emphasis on any one of these duty areas may be higher or lower, and may be adjusted as needed. In some organizations, depending on the nature of the position and the organizational needs, some of these duties may not be needed at all or handled by other staff members or managers.

Program Management

  1. Administer a statewide multimodal freight mobility program, including all transportation modes, e.g. highways, air, marine and rail, and involving multiple public agencies and private businesses, and ensure these programs are in concert with strategic objectives.
  2. Establish all facets of the program, including development of freight mobility policies, screening criteria to establish project priorities, environmental impacts, staffing, budget requests, and administrative rulemaking.
  3. Develop and carry out strategic business and operations plans for the organization’s activities in improving the movement of goods to and through the State.
  4. Lead the development of system and demand management strategies to optimize the throughput of goods.
  5. Advise and/or act for the organization’s management on key events and issues affecting freight movement in the State.
  6. Specifically incorporate environmental impacts into program activities and identifies needed resources and strategies to mitigate those impacts.


  1. Analyze State and regional transportation modal and logistics systems.
  2. Analyze transportation, land use and distribution policies.
  3. Analyze legislative bills and budgets and propose legislative initiatives or changes to advance freight movement.
  4. Oversee and initiate data collection and analysis efforts and share the results of these efforts with decisionmakers to help them make informed decisions.
  5. Monitor freight shipments into, out of, or through the region/State. Analyze this movement to determine where problems exist and where improvements can be made.
  6. Conduct studies and provide tools that effectively address freight and freight movement issues in planning, investment and programming decisions.
  7. Act as project manager to oversee and provide technical assistance on special data and analysis projects so that information needs are efficiently met.
  8. Act as a technical resource and data expert for freight planning and analysis.
  9. Act as a central point of contact for freight movement data across all modes.
  10. Establish freight performance measures for the State that are compatible with and can be integrated into existing transportation performance measures. Ensure sufficient data acquisition is part of that process.
  11. Identify freight research topics that lead to projects, programs, or funding partnerships that enhance the movement of freight. Manage independent freight studies.

Communication and Coordination with Constituencies

  1. Communicate, inform and seek input from freight customers (shippers, carriers, and government officials) using methods such as targeted e-mail lists, surveys, interviews, focus groups and forums.
  2. Establish relationships and act as a resource and advocate for freight issues with other governmental organizations and the private sector.
  3. Act as key point of contact for freight issues, regionally and statewide. As the main point of contact for freight interests in the region/State, interact at the national level with other Freight Coordinators/officials, initiating dialogue as needed, as well as coordinating with economic development agencies, the private sector, and other stakeholders to create a united front for making freight transportation improvements.
  4. Establish and foster cross-region/State, cross-agency, cross-sector and cross-modal partnerships to achieve the regional/statewide vision and goals. This will involve joint planning for freight mobility and security, coordination of freight transportation investment decisions and funding partnerships, and development and implementation of regional and/or corridor-wide projects. Within this duty, work with all other freight stakeholders to identify shared interests and synergies, as well as differences (such as differences in the planning horizon among the public and private sectors) and ways to overcome these differences.
  5. Meet regularly with the State leaders and/or their staff, the State DOT management team, other State agency heads, legislators and staff, local elected officials, federal agencies and the private sector to set policy and implement the State’s freight agenda.
  6. Establish and lead external and internal stakeholder groups, as needed, in support of planning efforts, including policy, leadership or technical groups comprised of elected community and business leaders from the State and other States.
  7. Lead the development of innovative partnerships (public/public and public/private) to implement transportation system improvements promoting efficient freight movement.
  8. Represent the organization on freight movement matters, including public interaction and with national committees (e.g., the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and the Transportation Research Board).
  9. Serve as an intermodal and freight planning and programming resource for the State DOT, other State agencies, regional and local agencies, port districts, and the public. This includes responding to requests for information on passenger and freight intermodal facilities and connections.
  10. Develop legislative and policy proposals for alternative-financing programs aimed at supporting the needs of shippers and carriers regarding intermodal freight infrastructure.
  11. Respond to inquiries from legislators, public agencies, and the private sector within the scope of assigned responsibilities.
  12. Conduct customer interviews, focus groups, and strategic planning sessions throughout the State to identify target markets’ unmet needs and associated performance metrics.

Operations Initiatives

  1. Evaluate transportation management and operations initiatives and practices and propose options for improving freight movement.
  2. Engage freight constituency at the local, State, and regional level to understand freight dynamics and movement patterns and recommend operational solutions.
  3. Create and implement State DOT design standards that recognize interactions between the State DOT system and freight users, e.g. trucking companies, rail and ports.

Planning Initiatives

  1. Oversee and/or direct all levels of State DOT staff to manage major freight-related planning studies.
  2. Ensure freight interests are represented in long-range facility planning and local and regional transportation system planning. This includes reviewing strategies, transportation plans, and other materials.

Policy Development

The emphasis in this duty area may be higher or lower, depending on the level of the Freight Coordinator position in the State and organizational needs. Duties may vary from advising on matters regarding policy to developing policy.

  1. Represent the State in reviewing or developing national policies regarding freight movement.
  2. Formulate statewide freight policies in conjunction with various stakeholders (e.g. shippers, carriers and other government or industry agencies) to create effective and efficient freight movement by:
    • Increasing visibility of freight issues at State and federal levels,
    • Streamlining processes in freight movement,
    • Improving safety, and
    • Acting as a consultant to local jurisdictions on freight issues.
  3. Act as an advocate for freight interests and needs in the State, working regionally when necessary, to advance freight projects. In order to do so, the Coordinator will need to understand the various audiences that may be involved and how to articulate different messages to different audiences in order to promote freight interests. The Coordinator will also need to be aware of the various freight projects within the State and track the progress of these projects.
  4. Provide statewide leadership in implementing federal and State legislation related to freight, intermodal and statewide transportation. This may include working with senior management and advisory committees, developing work programs and contract scopes of work, managing contracts, and working with federal, national, State and metropolitan transportation staff and programs.
  5. Direct and coordinate the development, evaluation, and implementation of policies for the State’s role in freight movement.
  6. Direct and provide technical and policy analysis, especially of the impacts of policy decisions and legislation. Provide technical support to the organizations on transportation, demographic, land use, and economic development issues.

Strategic Planning

  1. Set [Advise on the development of] the freight vision and goals for the State by identifying and understanding emerging trends (statewide, nationally, and internationally) and technology opportunities.
  2. Create a strategic plan for freight system investment and operational improvements to be included in the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP).
  3. Build an economic case for freight initiatives and develop financial plans and recommendations to support them.
  4. Develop and implement a plan to increase federal, State and local investment in the regional/State freight system.
  5. Ensure strategic direction for freight movement programs is reflected in State policy goals advocating efficient land use, promoting equity, strengthening the economy, and protecting the environment.
  6. Establish management control systems and performance targets for freight movement.


  1. Develop and administer the budget that supports the organization’s strategic goals and objectives related to freight movement.
  2. Identify and support innovative financing opportunities to leverage non-traditional funding sources to supplement local, State and federal transportation improvement project funds.


  1. Lead development and implementation of training and education on freight issues and the importance of freight for the public and private sectors as well as the general public. This will also include seeking currently available opportunities and building awareness of these opportunities.


Add specific job elements that are relevant based on organization structure.

  1. Manage the freight program, including hiring staff, assigning and directing work, evaluating performance, and providing training.
  2. Lead a multidisciplinary freight movement group.

Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Knowledge and understanding of the freight industry and freight movement. This includes having an understanding of private sector logistics, the freight movement industry, infrastructure for the various modes, and the government’s role in freight movement. Must also understand the relationship of freight movement to the economy, environment and communities.
  • Facilitation and organizational knowledge and expertise. Able to bring all stakeholders together and facilitate dialogue to begin to identify mutual interests, share ideas, and work together.
  • Articulate and influence. Able to articulate needs and influence political and business leaders, and all stakeholders in order to advance freight interests and improvements.
  • Public speaking and interpersonal communication capabilities. Able to establish and build relationships necessary to advance freight movement. Able to speak to people, make presentations, and lead discussions at different levels and different constituencies to advance programs and objectives. Requires excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Understanding of transportation programming, project development, design and funding processes and mechanisms. In order to make changes to improve freight transportation, must understand the elements of transportation projects, from project development, through design and implementation. Must also understand current funding processes and mechanisms in order to be able to recommend changes to the processes. Must also have knowledge of innovative finance and its applicability to freight projects.
  • Negotiation capabilities. Able to work with potentially disparate interests and facilitate differing interests to work together for the advancement of freight transportation. Requires strong mediation and consensus-building skills. Demonstrated ability to effectively apply logic and creativity in decisionmaking processes and successful application of motivational and negotiating skills.
  • Visionary thinker. In order to meet the responsibility of setting the freight vision and goals for the State, must be able to understand the present and think in terms of improvements for the future.
  • Data analysis and interpretation capabilities. In order to be able to provide decisionmakers with information in an easy-to-use format, must be able to analyze complex data and draw meaningful conclusions. Will also need to be able to identify where there are gaps in data and what additional data needs to be collected to bridge those gaps.
  • Project management expertise. Demonstrated ability to manage a complex regional/Statewide program, provide new perspectives, and/or develop and implement new initiatives.
  • Educational expertise. Must have knowledge of the educational system in terms of university curriculums and adult learning formats. Must also have knowledge of different processes to be used for educating freight professionals and must be aware of current educational opportunities.
  • Regulatory Knowledge. Familiarity with federal and State regulations that apply to and impact the work of the organization and its mission, goals, programs, and policies.
  • Supervision. Demonstrated ability to supervise a multi-disciplinary professional staff, participate in public forums, represent the organization in advanced transportation systems matters, and serve in a consulting and coordinating capacity with other departmental functional areas statewide.


Candidate should have completed academic course work at the university level.

If a management position, then the candidate should have equivalent training and experience in the area of supervision and management principles.

Office of Operations