Walter B. McCormick Jr., president and CEO of American Trucking Associations, said Hart is an "outstanding choice."
"(Clyde Hart) brings to this new agency a solid transportation and legislative background and a wealth of knowledge that is critical to the trucking industry. Clyde’s appointment to this important position sends a clear message that our industry will get the attention it deserves."
The appointment by Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, which took effect May 22, temporarily shifts Hart from maritime to trucking, with the title of acting deputy administrator.
The move puts Hart in charge of the safety agency without requiring him to go through the Senate approval process that is required for the top job of administrator. DOT officials have acknowledged having a hard time filling the administrator’s post, since whoever took that job probably would lose it when the new administration comes in next year.
Hart has long experience in trucking legislation and policy, first as an attorney at the former Interstate Commerce Commission, and later as the senior Democratic counsel of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. He was confirmed by the Senate as the maritime administrator in 1998.
"Clyde’s experience both on Capitol Hill and within the Department of Transportation position him well to deal with the immediate challenges facing FMCSA," said Slater. "His willingness to take on this challenge and to address key safety issues, the top transportation priorities of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, is to be commended."
With Hart taking over, Julie Cirillo, formerly acting Deputy Administrator of FMCSA, will now serve as the Acting Chief Safety Officer. His work at maritime will be handled by deputy administrator John Graykowski.
DOT did not say how long Hart will serve in the post.