Results from an internal investigation looking into the untimely ignition switch recall at GM have been released, finding that incompetence and misdiagnosis, not a conspiracy, were the root causes.
“Overall the report found that, from start to finish, the Cobalt saga was riddled with failures which led to tragic results for many,” said CEO Mary Barra. The investigation was undertaken by former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas who was given full access to GM records and employees.
In response to these recalls, GM has let go of 15 employees who were found to have acted negligently, and disciplined an additional five. Of those fired from the company, over half were senior executives or higher. The company has also launched a compensation program under Kenneth Feinberg for those who have lost loved ones or who have suffered serious physical injuries as the result of an ignition switch issue.
In terms of responsibility, the Valukas report finds that there was no deliberate conspiracy to cover up the facts, and there is no evidence of a trade-off between safety and cost.
Other steps taken by GM to change its safety procedures include the promoting of Jeff Boyer to new vehicle safety chief, the hiring of 35 extra safety investigators, the introduction of the ‘speak up for safety’ program and a restructuring of the safety decision making process.
GM says that issues will now come further up the ladder much faster, so the highest level of management will be more involved. This was driven by the report’s conclusion that the company’s highest executives, Mary Barra, Mike Millikin and Mark Reuss, did not learn about the ignition switch safety issues until after the decision to issue the recall was made on Jan. 31, 2014.
The first signs that there was a a problem in the ignition switch came 11 years ago, and since then GM has confirmed at least 13 fatalities as a result of the problem. In those cars, the key can inadvertently turn to the “off” position, causing the airbags to not deploy in the result of a crash and a loss of power steering. In total, 2.6 million cars were recalled for this issue starting in January of 2014.
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