Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi is leaving FMCSA.  -  Photo: FMCSA

Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi is leaving FMCSA.

Photo: FMCSA

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi, who was nominated to head the agency, is leaving the administration to accept a position as a deputy mayor of New York City.

New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams unveiled a team of deputy mayors on Dec. 20, naming Joshi as deputy mayor for operations. According to the FMCSA, she will remain in her current role at DOT for the next month. The agency has not had a confirmed administrator since Ray Martinez stepped down more than two years ago.

Joshi has extensive experience in New York City government. She has previously served as chief regulator of New York City’s for-hire vehicle industry and as executive manager in city agencies charged with oversight of the New York City Police Department and Department of Corrections. Prior to being named FMCSA deputy administrator, Joshi was general manager of the New York office of Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants and visiting scholar at NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation policy.

Joshi, who President Biden appointed deputy administrator shortly after taking office, was on track to become FMCSA administrator. Her nomination had cleared a hurdle in late October when the Senate Commerce Committee voted to forward her nomination to the full Senate, where it was expected to be confirmed easily. Her nomination received the unequivocal support of both the American Trucking Associations and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

Musical Chairs

The news ends hopes that the musical chairs of the last two years of FMCSA leadership was coming to an end.

Joshi is the third acting chief of FMCSA since Ray Martinez stepped down two years ago, and one of several to have left the agency unexpectedly since it was formed more than 20 years ago.

It's not immediately clear who may replace Joshi. One possibility is Jack Van Steenburg, FMCSA executive director and chief safety officer, who is the most senior career official at the agency and the first to hold the title executive director. Another could be Earl Adams Jr., FMCSA chief consul, the most senior political appointee. Or DOT and the White House could have someone else in mind.

“We are very grateful for Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi’s leadership this past year at FMCSA and know that she will bring the same commitment, expertise, and vision to her new role,” said a DOT spokesperson in a statement emailed to HDT. “She has engaged with truck drivers and the motor coach industry to chart a clear path for FMCSA to address our supply chain challenges, improve driver safety and job quality, and has built a strong team at FMCSA who will help build on this foundation.”

Addressing the supply-chain crisis has been among Joshi's roles this year, as in this meeting with port officials.  -  Photo: FMCSA

Addressing the supply-chain crisis has been among Joshi's roles this year, as in this meeting with port officials.

Photo: FMCSA

“Meera Joshi has led FMCSA through historic times — as an unprecedented global pandemic, countless natural disasters, a cyberattack on a major domestic pipeline, and widespread workforce shortages challenged the freight economy in ways never before seen,” said American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear in a statement reacting to the news of her departure.

“Throughout her tenure, the trucking industry has found Deputy Administrator Joshi to be a candid, collaborative, and valued partner in government,” Spear continued. “Her use of data and stakeholder input drove a sound policy process designed to meet real-world needs. Her leadership has helped to ensure our industry could continue to safely serve the American people and meet the demands of the economy during these incredible times.”

Previous FMCSA Chiefs

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was created by the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. That law created the FMCSA within the Department of Transportation, giving truck and bus safety equal status in DOT with the other transportation modes. It wasn't until 2001 that the first administrator was confirmed.

2001: Joseph Clapp confirmed as first FMCSA administrator

2003: Annette Sandberg became the second administrator; she stepped down in 2006.

2006: John Hill was confirmed as FMCSA administrator.

2009: Anne Ferro was confirmed as the fourth administrator. She remained chief for five years, stepping down in 2014.

2016: T.F. Scott Darling III, who took over as acting administrator after Ferro in 2014, was finally confirmed as administrator.

2018: Ray Martinez became the sixth administrator, confirmed more than a year after Trump took office. He stepped down in October 2019 and the agency has only had acting chiefs since then.

2019: Jim Mullen stepped in as acting administrator after Martinez departure but left the next year.

2020: Wiley Deck assumed the role of deputy administrator and acted as the agency chief.

2021: Meera Joshi was named deputy administrator (the third since Martinez’ departure) and was nominated for administrator.

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