HELP is an acronym for Heavy Vehicle Electronic License Plate. It is a research project that was begun 12 years ago and now has matured to a point where we have a public-private partnership corporation established, and HELP is the acronym for the long name. It's a long easier.
We can document tangible evidence of benefits that can result from the investment in Federal intelligent transportation system research efforts.
HELP, Inc., is a case study of the success of ITS -- and I'll refer to intelligent transportation systems as ITS as I do this -- commercial vehicles operations, and the fact that we have an operating system -- we have many customers who are using it now and we are proceeding in a self-sustained form of operation.
To the best of my knowledge, I think we're the only demonstration effort out there that can show that we have taken a Federal research ITS project into a commercially viable operation and moved forward with that.
HELP, Incorporated is a non-profit corporation that is established as a true public-private partnership. We are public-private in that the trucking industry, in particular and the State governments, are together serving on the Board of Directors and helping watching us move forward.
The second part is that we are the public-private partnership and have private sector venture capital involved in moving our technology forward as a result of the research effort that had been done. Our service is voluntary and our customers, which are States and the trucking industry, participate only because we add value to their operations, and the value added, I think, is very important to what we're doing.
In the case of our State customers, it allows them to focus enforcement efforts on areas that need attention -- safety, regulatory problems -- by removing from the traffic stream those who are operating safely and in compliance with regulations.
Secondly, the benefit value added is that it reduces capital and operating expenditures for weigh stations and ports of entry. On the motor carrier side of the equation, they receive benefits in increased operating efficiencies. We are seeing very high positive feedback and driver satisfaction, and, most importantly, lower operating costs for an industry that is so very vital to all of us in moving freight around this country.
The benefits are being realized because the Federal funds authorized by this committee many years ago were used to demonstrate the viability of motion technology and automatic vehicle identification technology, and we have moved forward with those.
However, the benefits are not being provided with ongoing subsidies at this point, and we believe that is important. Our service is self-sustaining, and that occurs because in 1993 when the research effort was done, the Federal Highway Administration and Dr. Johnson's folks wisely made the decision that deployment of technologies was needed but not at the expense of Federal investments at that point, and moved forward with the private sector public-private partnerships. And, as a result, that was the creation of HELP, Inc., which was established and now has 11 member States part of that.
Senator Reid, as a matter of information, Keith Mackey, who is here in the audience from the Nevada Department of Transportation, serves on my Board of Directors. Nevada is the most recent member of our organization. We're just delighted to have him as a part of that. New Mexico, with Secretary Rahn, has been very forward in moving New Mexico into deploying the technology and it works very well.
I think HELP is a tribute to the Federally supported ITS efforts and needs to serve as that. However, I would point out a recent ITS America principle that was adopted related to ITS reauthorization, and that is a statement that says, "Federal funds should be reserved for those programs not being carried out by the private sector." I think we are an example to show that there is a transition that is very appropriate from research dollars to private sector involvement.