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WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the National Academy of Sciences and NASA will both delve into the issue of unintended acceleration to see if they can find the root of the cause.

The total expected cost of the studies? LaHood anticipates it will be $3 million.

The National Academy of Sciences is an independent body that uses top scientific experts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More specifically, The National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council group will examine the broad subject of unintended acceleration and electronic vehicle controls across the entire auto industry. This will be a 15-month review and is not limited to Toyota models.

Basically, a panel of experts will review industry and government efforts to identify possible sources of unintended acceleration, including electronic vehicle controls, human error, mechanical failure and interference with accelerator systems.

The experts will analyze software, computer hardware design, electromagnetic compatibility and electromagnetic interference.

The panel will then make recommendations to NHTSA on how its rulemaking, research and defect investigation activities may help ensure the safety of electronic control systems in motor vehicles, according to officials.

Meanwhile, in another investigation, NHTSA has asked NASA engineers with expertise in areas such as computer-controlled electronic systems, electromagnetic interference and software integrity to specifically tackle the issue of unintended acceleration on Toyota vehicles. This review is expected to be completed by late summer. Apparently, there are currently nine experts from NASA assisting NHTSA, and officials said additional personnel will join the team if warranted.

Both studies will then be peer reviewed by scientific experts, NHTSA indicated. The cost of both studies will come in at about $3 million, including the cost of purchasing vehicles that have allegedly experienced unintended acceleration.

"We are determined to get to the bottom of unintended acceleration," LaHood said Tuesday. "For the safety of the American driving public, we must do everything possible to understand what is happening. And that is why we are tapping the best minds around."

LaHood also asked the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General to review whether NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation has the necessary resources and systems to identity and address safety defects going forward. LaHood wants to know if the ODI conducted an adequate review of complaints of alleged unintended acceleration reported to NHTSA from 2002 to the present.

The IG is slated to determine whether ODI had the appropriate number of personnel and staff expertise to assess and address the technical issues raised by the complaints and whether the data was sufficient to identify specific defects that caused unintended acceleration.

"We are bringing the best minds and talents to resolve this issue," pointed out David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator. "We will not rest until we have identified and addressed any potential vehicle-related causes of unintended acceleration."