WASHINGTON (Jan. 20, 2006) — The Bush administration has nominated Nicole Nason, assistant secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) for governmental affairs, to be the next chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In her role as lawyer for the DOT, Ms. Nason, 35, lobbies Congress on transportation issues.
If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Nason would succeed Jeffrey Runge as NHTSA administrator. Mr. Runge left in September to be chief medical officer of the Department of Homeland Security.
Jacqueline Glassman has been serving as acting administrator.
NHTSA is approaching final decisions on new side-impact crash standards and roof strength regulations and on a major overhaul of the government's fuel economy program.
Sources have said for several months that Ms. Nason was the likely nominee. During that time she did not respond to interview requests.
Joan Claybrook, president of the consumer group Public Citizen, said in the Jan. 19 Washington Post that Ms. Nason, if confirmed, would be in the position of implementing measures that she had opposed as a lobbyist.
A multi-year transportation spending bill enacted last year directed NHTSA to adopt a series of new safety regulations. Auto makers ultimately dropped their opposition to the congressional mandate because they said the requirements are not that different from NHTSA's plans.