US: officials say NHTSA needs restructuring, not more money image

According to US lawmakers, the US congress is unlikely to increase the budget of the auto safety regulatory agency the NHTSA, instead tasking it to reform its investigation system while it also deals with one of the most complex recalls in the country’s history.

In a bid to provide more funds to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s defect investigations office, the Obama administration has called the Congress to lift the budget with another $20 million a year, tripling the division’s $10 million budget that has not been modified in almost a decade. The agency’s new administrator also used the Senate hearing on Tuesday in Takata’s defective airbags case as a platform to plead once more for more funding as it sees the NHTSA overwhelmed by a record-setting run of large-scale safety campaigns, including the potential replacement of 34 million defective airbags produced by Japan’s auto safety parts manufacturer Takata Corp.

But lawmakers from both parties instead rebuffed the call, saying the agency first needs a restructuring plan, even though they supported the response to Takata’s decisions regarding the deadly accidents involving its airbags. “NHTSA isn’t following basic best practices and these are problems that can’t be solved by throwing additional resources at the problem,” commented the Republican Chairman of the Senate commerce committee, John Thune of South Dakota.The lawmakers cited a U.S. Transportation Department inspector general report that said NHTSA has ineffective executives, untrained staff and lacks the ability to properly assess information from both consumers and automakers concerning potential safety flaws. NHTSA’s administrator in turn showcased a strategy to make 44 improvements to its operations within a year.

Via Reuters