Congressional Blog on Recalls, Deaths, and Blame
Michael R. Lemov, an attorney with a long history of safety work has written a blog for the Hill. His article “50 million cars recalled, hundreds dead, who is to blame” notes the role of Congress.
“Yet there is another co-conspirator that also has “shared culpability” for the General Motors, Toyota, Honda and other botched recalls, such as Chrysler Jeep’s potentially flammable gas tanks.
That party is the finger- wagging Congress itself, specifically, the House and Senate Appropriations committees. They have starved the federal safety agency for staff and funding for decades. NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigations (ODI), the office responsible for policing and correcting safety defects, is funded at about $10 million a year to oversee the 265 million cars now on the roads in America. It has about 60 professionals, including engineers and investigators, assigned to the job. Its staff and expertise are simply no match for the skills and size of the car companies and particularly the complex, computerized cars with new technologies now coming off the assembly lines. And NHTSA’s $10 million congressionally-authored budget for the defects office has remained virtually the same for a decade.
The underfunding by Congress insures that the safety agency will be slow, incompetent and subject to halfway deals with the car companies in order to attempt to comply with its huge responsibilities.““Lemov is the author of the forthcoming book, “Car Safety Wars: 100 Years of Technology, Politics and Sudden Death” (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press/Rowman& Littlefield) He was formerly chief counsel of the House Energy and Commerce, Oversight and Investigations subcommittee.”