The Obama administration has moved to conduct an extensive review of the agency that is in charge with regulating the auto safety after it mishandled a public campaign.

The news comes from a US official who spoke to Bloomberg on condition of anonymity and follows several mismanagement issues – including the fact that it was scrutinized by a US congress panel for its involvement in the GM ignition switch debacle. Now, the cup spilled after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration botched a rather easy feat: to inform the public about a potentially lethal airbag flaw. According to the source, the Transportation Department has been tasked to find out if the federal regulator is swift enough to detect early on threats to public safety.

The congressional scrutiny also comes as the US auto industry has recalled more vehicles than ever before, with the US lawmakers panning the NHTSA for not accepting responsibility for its mistakes and, more importantly, being very slow in reacting to a GM ignition switch defect that has been linked to 29 deaths so far.

Also, last week the NHTSA did a bad job in publicizing a potential threat that involved almost 8 million vehicles equipped with airbags that have potentially defective inflators that could send metal debris flying through the cabin at high velocity. The agency first said there were fewer vehicles involved, then took some models out and brought in 3 million cars and ultimately frustrated owners because the website that showed the recall lists was down for days after the announcement.

Via Bloomberg


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