Poor Records Thwart Investigation of Federal Safety Agency

An investigation into whether the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made good use of about $900 million on research projects has stopped, in part because the safety agency’s records are “incomplete.”

The investigation was started in August 2008 by the inspector general of the Transportation Department, which includes the safety agency.

The investigative body was looking into how N.H.T.S.A. spent research funds in contracts or grants to “states, universities, commercial entities and nonprofit organizations for their behavioral and vehicle safety research.”

The investigators said they wanted to know whether the safety agency had a system to “prevent fraud, waste and abuse,” funded projects “based on their likelihood to reduce the number and severity of crashes” and systematically “evaluated and disseminated project results to improve safety.”

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