Dozens of former federal officials are playing leading roles in helping carmakers handle federal investigations of auto defects, including those for Toyota’s runaway-acceleration problems. A Washington Post analysis shows that as many as 33 former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration employees and Transportation Department appointees left those jobs in recent years and now work for automakers as lawyers, consultants and lobbyists and in other jobs that deal with government safety probes, recalls and regulations.
The reach of these former agency employees is broad. They are on staff rosters for every major automaker and every major automotive trade group, and they appear as expert witnesses and legal counsel for the industry in major class-action lawsuits over auto safety…
No law bans these officials from moving straight from government into industry. But critics of the revolving-door practice say that it has contributed to flaws in federal oversight and enforcement.