Toyota's legendary leanness is just what the EPA needs, says EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Pruitt wants to hire Toyota Motor North America's nonprofit consulting arm to help improve administrative efficiency. The only problem is that the EPA also regulates Toyota.
Pruitt told a House panel Dec. 7 that the agency contacted the Toyota Production System Service Center to evaluate management practices and help develop lean processes. The EPA has not conducted a workload staffing analysis in more than 20 years and can't ensure it has the correct number of people, with the correct skills in the right locations, according to a recent audit by the agency's inspector general.
Toyota spokeswoman Karen Nielsen confirmed that Toyota's consulting unit is in preliminary discussions with the EPA.
But public interest groups say the arrangement poses a conflict of interest.
"It's like having the fox as your consultant for how to manage your hen house," David Friedman, director of cars and product policy for Consumers Union, said in a statement. "EPA's inspector general should quickly open an investigation into this matter."