General Motors internal probe details years of missteps on deadly ignition switch

Jun 06 2014, 09:53 IST
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General Motors' defective switches are linked to at least 13 deaths General Motors' defective switches are linked to at least 13 deaths
SummaryA 325-page report on GM's mishandling of deadly switch details missteps by employees, officials.

defective switch but never changed the part number, are spelled out in great detail in the report.

DeGiorgio talked with the internal investigators on May 7 and 8, yet he repeatedly said he could not remember key details, including his signature on an order authorizing supplier Delphi Automotive PLC to alter the part, the report said.

REVIEWED MILLIONS OF DOCUMENTS

The investigation, which involved a review of 41 million documents and 350 interviews, concluded "there is no question" that DeGiorgio knew he was approving a change in the switch.

While DeGiorgio did not share his knowledge of the ignition switch change with other GM employees, a footnote in the report indicates that there "were a handful of other engineers in other departments" who were copied on emails describing the changed part. It suggests they simply did not process the information. The report does not name these individuals and says they did not hold key positions like DeGiorgio.

The report casts a harsh light on the role played by GM engineer Brian Stouffer, who led a lengthy internal investigation into switches that dragged on for two and a half years.

In the last phase of his inquiry, Stouffer, who retired earlier this year, received emails from Delphi, the switch supplier, that pinpointed when a parts change had been made with a change in the parts number.

Stouffer's investigation, which ended in late 2013, was overseen by three senior managers, all of whom were detailed in the Valukas report and all of whom have since left the company.

Attempts to reach Stouffer were unsuccessful. The Valukas team interviewed him for the report.

The report criticized Stouffer for misreading internal accident data during his long-running inquiry. It said he missed fatality reports that might have helped GM identify problems with ignition in the Saturn Ion - issues that were not spotted until February 2014, after GM did its first ignition switch recall of the Cobalt.

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