Thursday, September 25, 2014

U.S. working to fill NHTSA chief job quickly

September 16, 2014

U.S. working to fill NHTSA chief job quickly

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Anthony Foxx. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Washington — U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a Detroit News interview the White House is getting closer to naming a new chief to run the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“We are working on that. I think you can expect some activity on that very soon,” Foxx said in a Detroit News interview late last week, declining to say who is under consideration for the top job.

On Tuesday, two senators on a committee overseeing NHTSA, urged the White House to move quickly.

The job has been vacant since January when NHTSA Administrator David Strickland resigned to join a Washington law firm.

Friedman — who became deputy administrator in 2013 — was named acting chief, but his maximum 210 days running the office on a temporary basis expired. He is still the top official at NHTSA though he no longer holds the title as acting chief.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., urged the White House to make filling the NHTSA administrator job a priority.

“While I believe Mr. Friedman has done a good job of running the agency on an interim basis since the last Senate-confirmed administrator stepped down in January, I would urge the White House to make filling the vacancy for the nation’s top highway and safety official a priority. Especially as the agency evaluates its personnel and financial resource needs, and continues to work to modernize in order to keep pace with an auto industry far more technologically advanced that it, NHTSA needs an administrator and a deputy administrator — not one person doing both jobs,” McCaskill said.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., also said the White House should move quickly to fill the job.

“I am also concerned the president has not filled the vacancy for the position of administrator at NHTSA. The task of addressing any shortcomings at the agency and implementing any necessary improvements may be challenging for a deputy administrator without the endorsement of the president’s nomination and the Senate’s confirmation,” Heller said.

Foxx defended the agency, but said the inspector general’s office is looking at NHTSA’s handling of GM’s ignition switch issues. “If we need to take additional measures we will do so,” Foxx said. The report is expected to be completed by spring, said Joseph Come, the deputy inspector general for audits and evaluation.

The Obama administration left the job of NHTSA administrator open for eight months after its first nominee in 2009 withdrew under pressure from environmentalists. It finally settled on Strickland, a Senate Commerce Committee lawyer.

From The Detroit News: