About the DfT Executive Agencies and Trading funds

The role of Executive Agencies and Trading Funds

The Department's executive agencies and trading funds are central to delivering the Government's transport priorities and services.

Executive Agencies

Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA)


VCA tests and certifies new models of vehicles and components against European and United Nations safety and environmental performance standards. It also provides a service to manufacturers who wish to be certified as meeting international quality, environmental and safety management system standards.

VCA publishes the definitive data on emissions, fuel consumption and noise. This helps people decide what vehicle to buy and enables in-service testing of car emissions. This information also supports the Department and the Inland Revenue in applying Vehicle Excise Duty schemes linked to vehicle fuel consumption.

Highways Agency (HA)


HA is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the strategic road network, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport. This comprises 9,380 km/5,863 miles of motorways and trunk roads in England, on which over 170 billion vehicle/km journeys are made each year.

HA's aim is 'Safe roads, reliable journeys, informed travellers' which supports the DfT objective of a transport system that works for everyone. The agency:

  • improves road safety;
  • makes journeys more reliable through better network management and information; and
  • respects the environment.

HA also has an international role, building good working relationships and sharing expertise with other overseas road administrations. This helps promote the value of UK knowledge and best practice across the world to support UK industry.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)


MCA delivers and implements the Government's maritime safety strategy. The agency co-ordinates search and rescue at sea through Her Majesty's Coastguard, and checks that ships meet UK and international safety rules. It works to prevent loss of life at the coast and at sea, to ensure that ships are safe, and to prevent coastal pollution.

Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA)


The GCDA is a non-profit making executive agency which aims to be the first choice supplier of secure transport, distribution and mail related services to Government, the wider public sector and other approved customers.

Trading funds

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)


DVLA maintains an up-to-date record of all those who are entitled to drive various types of vehicles, together with a register of all vehicles entitled to travel on public roads. It is responsible for driver licensing, the collection of vehicle excise duty and vehicle registration policy for Great Britain.

DVLA also contributes to Government policies and to broader objectives, such as an improved environment and modernised, customer-focussed services.

Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA)


VOSA works with Traffic Commissioners to improve road safety and the environment and to safeguard fair competition by promoting and enforcing compliance with commercial operator licensing requirements.

VOSA is responsible for:

  • processing applications for licences to operate lorries and buses;
  • registering bus services;
  • operating and administering testing schemes for all vehicles, including the supervision of the MOT testing scheme;
  • enforcing the law on vehicles to ensure that they comply with legal standards and regulations;
  • enforcing drivers' hours and licensing requirements;
  • supporting Traffic Commissioners to help them make informed decisions on operator licensing, vocational drivers and bus registration requirements;
  • providing training and advice for commercial operators; and
  • investigating vehicle accidents, defects and recalls.

Driving Standards Agency (DSA)


DSA promotes road safety in Great Britain by improving driving standards, through testing drivers and driving instructors. The DSA has continued to contribute to the target for reducing road casualties set in the Government's road safety strategy, Tomorrow's Roads - Safer for Everyone.

For related documents, pages and internet links, see the column on the right.