2014 will go down as the year as the recall, but also the year where many glaring issues of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were made evident - mostly due to the GM ignition switch mess. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told reporters on Tuesday couldn’t keep pace at current staffing levels with 75,000 complaints coming in every year.
“It’s no longer reasonable frankly to expect an office with 8 screeners and 16 defects investigators to adequately analyze 75,000 complaints a year,” said Foxx.
Now there appears to be change in the air. The Detroit News reports that President Barrack Obama is proposing to increase NHTSA's budget for its Office of Defects Investigation from $10.7 million to $31 million. The increase would add NHTSA to add add 57 people to a staff of more than 100 and also use stronger data mining and monitoring tools to detect problems faster.
“This is about giving NHTSA the tools it needs,” said Foxx.
However, some folks on the Senate Commerce Committee isn't fully on board with a budget increase.
“We think there are ways too that you could reform and accomplish some things (without higher funding). Clearly, we want to work with them, but it’s going to be tough in this budgetary environment with all the constraints that we’re dealing with to get significant increases in funding for any agency,” said Senator John Thune, R-S.D, chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee.
Others think the increase is a step in the right direction.
NHTSA needs to do something and obviously they are getting a lot of complaints. (NHTSA’s) ability to field all of the complaints has been difficult in the last couple of years — and people paid a price for that,” said Senator Dean Heller, R-Nev.