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Bill restricts NHTSA workers from taking carmaker jobs

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Bill restricts NHTSA workers from taking carmaker jobs

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington -- A California senator wants to bar former auto safety regulators from going to work for an automaker for at least three years after leaving government service.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., today introduced legislation that would close the "revolving door" between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and automakers.

"I am deeply concerned about the all-too-cozy relationship between former NHTSA officials and the auto industry. My legislation would address this 'revolving door' by preventing automakers from having undue influence on agency decisions," Boxer said.

The legislation would prohibit former NHTSA employees, for at least three years, from working for auto manufacturers in any capacity that required written or oral communication with the agency.

NHTSA spokeswoman Julia Piscitelli said the administration already has toughened ethics rules.

"The Obama administration enacted the toughest ethics rules in historyto close the revolving door. The administration extended the ban prohibiting senior appointees leaving government from contacting employees of their former agency about official business from one to two years. And no political appointee is allowed to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration," Piscitelli said. "We look forward to working with Congress further on these issues."

The revolving door issue has come to light during recent inquiries into the safety of Toyota vehicles, Boxer said.

Two former NHTSA officials work in Toyota's Washington office, and Boxer noted concerns that former NHTSA employees are using their influence to benefit automotive manufacturers and impeding the enforcement of safety standards and regulations.

Toyota spokeswoman Martha Voss declined to comment.

Individuals who violate the new requirements would be subject to current penalties under government-wide ethics laws. Those penalties are $55,000 for an individual.

Manufacturers would also be subject to civil penalties, including a fine of $100,000 or more.

Automakers didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

dshepardson@detnews.com (202) 662-8735

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100428/AUTO01/4280411/1148/auto01/Bill+restricts+NHTSA+workers+from+taking+carmaker+jobs#ixzz0mVdXcVrJ

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Kinda runs afoul of various 'Right to work' guidelines in some states.

While there is the question of ethics, its only natural for people to move between the NHTSA and car companies. You work at things you have experience with.

Why is this a bill, anyway... wouldn't this come as a document one signs before starting work for the NHTSA? Is the NHTSA going to pay people for 3 years to not work?

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