"This is an interim step as we seek the truth about what happened. It was a difficult decision, but I believe it is best for GM," said CEO Mary Barra in the statement. GM recently created a new program called Speak Up for Safety that asks workers for ideas to make vehicles safer.
An early indication that some engineers might be in trouble came during the Senate hearing into the recall. Senator Claire McCaskill singled out a specific engineer for allegedly covering up the problem and claimed that the automaker held back important documents in legal cases. Barra admitted during the questioning that she was waiting for the results of the internal investigation before deciding what further action to take.
Much of the issue can be traced back to a spring that GM changed in its faulty ignition switches, but the part number wasn't altered. Senator McCaskill claims this is a sign of a cover-up. Not changing the number also led to a third round of the recall because the company couldn't identify which cars had properly functioning switches.
Recent reports indicate that regulators believe GM isn't being fully compliant in the investigation. The automaker didn't answer about a third of the 107 questions posed to it by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the organization has levied $28,000 in fines against the company. Scroll down to watch McCaskill's questions to Barra and read the announcement. We've contacted GM for more information about the engineers, and we'll update this story when he hear back.
Two engineers placed on paid leave as part of ignition switch probe
DETROIT – General Motors is creating a Speak Up for Safety program to recognize employees for ideas that make vehicles safer, and for speaking up when they see something that could impact customer safety, CEO Mary Barra said today.
"GM must embrace a culture where safety and quality come first," Barra said. "GM employees should raise safety concerns quickly and forcefully, and be recognized for doing so."
Barra spoke at an employee town hall meeting on Thursday, announcing the internal Speak Up for Safety campaign. The campaign is intended to remove perceived and real barriers to candid conversations between employees and their leaders as a step to foster a "safety first" culture.
Reporting issues only matters if there is follow-up - and Barra said the Global Vehicle Safety Group will be accountable to take action or close issues within a prescribed time period.
"We will recognize employees who discover and report safety issues to fix problems that could have been found earlier and identify ways to make vehicles safer," she said. Details will be announced in the next 30 days.
Separately, Barra confirmed two GM engineers have been placed on paid leave following a briefing from Anton Valukas, the former U.S. attorney overseeing an independent investigation into circumstances leading to a safety recall of 2.6 million older GM cars for ignition defects.
"This is an interim step as we seek the truth about what happened," Barra said. "It was a difficult decision, but I believe it is best for GM."
About General Motors Co.
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.