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Obama administration looks for new NHTSA administrator

by Justin King

Deputy administrator David Friedman not expected to be chosen for the job.

The Obama administration is reportedly seeking a new leader for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The agency has been directed this year by an interim deputy, David Friedman, however he is not being considered for the permanent nomination as the official administrator, unnamed sources have told Reuters.

The NHTSA first came under fire for years of inaction as fatalities associated with General Motors' defective ignition switches continued to rise. The agency now faces additional criticism for failing to identify years of problems with Takata airbag inflators, then allowing automakers to handle the airbag recall on a regional basis.

Safety advocates have argued that the NHTSA should be more proactive in uncovering potential defects, rather than waiting for automakers to spot their own problems. Critics have also claimed the agency appears to be unprepared to deal with new forms of defects that are related to software issues and complex electronics.

After grilling the NHTSA a second time during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, Representative Fred Upton suggested the necessary reforms at the NHTSA should begin with new leadership.

The Obama administration is expected to make a formal announcement in the near future.

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