Lawmakers press GM on report’s findings
By MARCY GORDON and TOM KRISHER AP Business Writers June 18, 2014 9:52AM
FILE - In this file combination made from file photos, General Motors CEO Mary Barra testifies before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, left, and former U.S. Attorney Anton R. Valukas testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on April 20, 2010, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Barra and Valukas will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committees oversight subcommittee on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Charles Dharapak, File)
WASHINGTON — House members say they still have many questions about General Motors’ delayed recall of small cars, including whether the company’s culture has truly changed.
A House subcommittee heard testimony Wednesday from GM CEO Mary Barra and attorney Anton Valukas, who recently completed an internal investigation on the recall of 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other cars.
Congress wants to know why it took GM more than a decade to recall the cars, which have defective ignition switches. GM blames the switches for 13 deaths.
It’s Barra’s second appearance before the committee. In April, Barra appeared but deferred many questions until Valukas’s report was completed. Valukas turned in the 315-page report earlier this month.
The report concludes that a lone engineer, Ray DeGiorgio, was able to approve the use of a switch that didn’t meet company specifications, and years later, ordered a change to that switch without anyone else at GM being aware.
But lawmakers say they need to know more.
“The report does not answer all the key questions. It does not fully explain how the ignition switch was approved without meeting specifications and then redesigned in 2006,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat from Colorado. “It does not fully explain why stalling was not considered a safety issue within GM. And most troubling, the report does not fully explain how this dysfunctional company culture took root and persisted.”
DeGette said senior executives, including Barra, should have acted sooner to change the company’s culture.
Republican Rep. Fred Upton says this week’s recall of another 3.4 million cars with faulty ignitions shows the problem didn’t end with the first recall.
Barra assured lawmakers that she was deeply disturbed by the report’s conclusions and has taken immediate action. The company has dismissed 15 people connected with the recall and has initiated a safety review that has led to a record 44 recalls of 18 million cars in the U.S. so far this year.
“I never want anyone associated with GM to forget what happened,” Barra said. “This is not another business challenge. This is a tragic problem that should never have happened and must never happen again.”
Krisher reported from Detroit. AP Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin contributed from Detroit.