One of the issues addressed during the Congressional inquest into Toyota's recalls was the matter of automakers hiring ex-employees of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. California Senator Barbara Boxer is looking to curb this practice with new legislation that would restrict ex-NHTSA employees from working for automakers for at least three years after their departure.
"I am deeply concerned about the all-too-cozy relationship between former NHTSA officials and the auto industry," said Boxer. "My legislation would address this 'revolving door' by preventing automakers from having undue influence on agency decisions,"
Legislators have begun to question what seems to be a common practice of automakers hiring ex-NHTSA officials. Some fear the practice allows automakers to exert an undue influence on legislative issues related to recall issues, along with safety or emission standards. Boxer believes ex-NHTSA officials could be using their influence to slow the implementation of new mandates, which are typically expensive for automakers to incorporate into their product portfolio.
Boxer's bill proposes a three-year period where ex-NHTSA employees cannot work for auto companies "in any capacity" that involves communication with NHTSA. If an individual is caught communicating with NHTSA inside that window, a $55,000 fine could be levied, along with a fine of at least $100,000 docked against his or her employer.
NHTSA officials point out the Obama administration has already enhanced ethics rules for government employees, and prohibits former agencies from contacting colleagues about official business for two years.
Source: The Detroit Free Press