The White House has renominated California safety expert Vernon L. Grose to be a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, a position he held for 10 months on a recess appointment when he was unable to win Senate confirmation.
Grose, who calls himself a political independent, once served with White House counselor Edwin Meese III on then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan's select committee for law-enforcement problems. Although his safety credentials are extensive, many at the board regard him as fractious and disruptive.
His recess appointment -- so-called because President Reagan made it while Congress was in recess -- took effect Dec. 12, 1983. It ended when the Senate adjourned last Oct. 12 without confirming him. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) never held hearings because of Democratic objections that Grose was really a Republican in independent's clothing and the five-member board had its quota of three Republicans. It is unknown what position the committee's new chairman, Sen. John C. Danforth (R-Mo.), will take on Grose's nomination this time around.
In the meantime, Grose has found work as a $252-a-day safety consultant for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration while occasionally visiting his old office at the safety board. "I'm without secretarial help," he said.
Some board officials are known to be offended by Grose's holding prayer meetings in his federal office, although none would say so on the record. Grose described himself in an interview Friday as "a committed believer in Jesus Christ in the tradition, I would say, of Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln or George Washington."
The prayer meetings all occur before working hours, after he jogs, Grose said: "I run to keep physically in shape, and I pray to keep spiritually in shape."
Last July, while a member of the safety board, Grose arranged to have himself invited to West Germany to survey safety technology there during a period that coincided with his daughter's wedding in Vienna.
In a letter to a West German official, he wrote, "My travel expenses to and from Germany would be paid by the NTSB if I had an official invitation." His official travel voucher shows that he was reimbursed $956.52 for European travel between Sept. 16 and Sept. 30. He claimed "personal leave and business" between Sept. 17 and Sept. 27. His daughter was married Sept. 24.
"As far as I'm concerned," Grose said yesterday, "the question is, was there something professionally exchanged? . . . My visit to Europe paid off handsomely in terms of professional enhancement and interchange." After his trip, Grose wrote a report for the board entitled "Survey of Safety Technology in the Federal Republic of Germany," which discussed such automotive safety issues as child safety seats, drunken drivers, passive restraints and speed limits.