The Scottish Government (formerly the Scottish Executive) is the devolved government for Scotland. It is responsible for most of the issues of day-to-day concern to the people of Scotland, including health, education, justice, rural affairs, and transport.
The Executive was established in 1999, following the first elections to the Scottish Parliament. It is led by a First Minister who is nominated by the Parliament and in turn appoints the other Scottish Ministers who make up the Cabinet. Executive civil servants are accountable to Scottish Ministers, who are themselves accountable to the Scottish Parliament.
The (then) Executive's plans and priorities are set out in a Partnership Agreement which was drawn up following the 2003 election. At the time, the Scottish Executive Development Department served the needs of transport, housing, planning and building standards in Scotland, and co-ordinated the Executive's work on social justice, equalities and the voluntary sector. Since 2007, transport has its own directorate - the Directorate for Transport.
In January 2006, Transport Scotland was set up as an executive agency of the Scottish Govenment, with the role of managing the motorway and trunk road network, overseeing the rail network and delivery of major transport infrastructure projects (road and rail).
However, transport research activities remains within the Scottish Government's Transport Directorate, whose remit includes:
- Co-ordination of the National Transport Strategy for Scotland
- Liaison with regional transport partnerships, including monitoring of funding
- Sustainable transport, road safety and accessibility
- Local roads policy and casework
- Aviation, bus, freight and taxi policy
- Ferries, ports and harbours.
Current objectives are:
- To ensure better transport links with faster and more reliable journey times and improved connections to help build and sustain economic growth.
- Improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of public transport to provide access to essential services and economic opportunities.
- Provide support for transport services to communities in less accessible or remote parts of Scotland to enable them to share in Scotland's economic prosperity.
- Reduce accidents by promoting road safety and driver awareness.
- Tackle the issues of climate change, healthy living and air quality by promoting public transport and encouraging individuals to shift from the private car to more sustainable, healthy and active forms of transport.
- Supporting the freight industry to reduce emissions by taking freight off road; encouraging the adoption of new low carbon technologies, cleaner vehicles and alternative fuels.
The Scottish Government commissions research across 18 topics, with one of them being transport. Related topics where research is also carried out include the environment, equality, planning, community care and rural issues. Transport research projects are not part of a formal programme but are commissioned to help the Transport Directorate and its agency Transport Scotland to design and implement strategies for meeting transport policy objectives. Research also aims to support the successful development and implementation of major initiatives.