The N.C. Department of Transportation dates back to the establishment of the State Highway Commission in 1915. In 1941, the North Carolina General Assembly created the Department of Motor Vehicles, consolidating services previously provided by the Secretary of State and the Department of Revenue.

The Executive Organization Act of 1971 then combined the State Highway Commission and the Department of Motor Vehicles to form the N.C. Department of Transportation and Highway Safety. In 1979, "Highway Safety" was dropped from the department's name when the Highway Patrol Division was transferred to the newly created Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.

Today, NCDOT employs more than 14,000 people who oversee all modes of transportation in North Carolina, including highways, rail, aviation, ferries, public transit, and bicycle and pedestrian transportation. The department also oversees North Carolina’s Division of Motor Vehicles.

NCDOT’s operations are led by the Secretary of Transportation, a member of the governor’s cabinet. A 19-member Board of Transportation is the department’s governing body and is responsible for assisting in the transportation decision-making process and approving fund allocation. Board members are appointed by the governor.

Units within the department are aligned according to six strategic functions:

Organization, Monitoring, Communication and Control

This overarching function is responsible for overseeing and evaluating the day-to-day operations of the department to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.

The department’s Chief Operating Officer is responsible for the oversight and management of departmental operations. The Office of Inspector General oversees risk management and auditing functions, as well as operational performance and best practices within NCDOT.

The Strategic Management Committee, comprised of the department’s executive staff, is responsible for developing strategic direction, and the Organizational Governance Office ensures that the committee’s initiatives are carried out by the responsible units.

Transportation Strategy and Investment Analysis

This function develops, monitors and manages strategic plans and investment alternatives based on the long-range multi-modal transportation needs of the state.

Transportation Business Administration

This function provides the day-to-day business administration and supportive services of the agency.

Process Management

This function provides the technical services needed to improve delivery of projects, programs, services and initiatives.

Transportation Program and Asset Management

This function provides the day-to-day central management, expertise and administration of highway and multi-modal transportation programs.

Transportation Program Delivery

This function manages the day-to-day delivery of the projects, programs, services and initiatives that NCDOT manages.