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New FRA Administrator will have to Lean In

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced late last week that President Obama intends to nominate Sarah Feinberg, the current Acting Administrator of the Federal Railway Administration, as the new permanent head of the agency. While I am personally excited to see a bright and talented woman take the helm of this key regulatory agency for the industry, I am concerned that she faces a tough road ahead.

In the last two years the FRA has issued no less than five safety advisories and three Emergency Orders mandating new safety rules, all without the usual process of seeking public comment and input to ensure that the new rules will truly enhance safety in a meaningful way and not unduly burden industry without worthwhile benefits. The latest Amtrak accident is generating new pressure for additional regulation, and may put Congress in a position where they are unable to adopt the much needed extension for PTC implementation as a result.

All of this makes for a pretty tough job for the new FRA Administrator. I wish Administrator Feinberg all the best as she takes on this important role – she will need all of the “Lean In” skills she can muster to navigate through all of the stakeholders and issues before the FRA. For another interesting commentary on the challenges FRA faces, see Frank Wilner’s latest commentary in Railway Age by clicking here.

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead written by Sheryl Sandberg