At this point, there's little question that General Motors deserves the bulk of the blame for not recalling the millions of vehicles affected by the ignition switch problem earlier than it did. And to a large degree, GM is facing the music and accepting blame for its mistakes, even if that acceptance won't bring back the 13 or more deaths attributed to the faulty components. But does GM deserve all the blame?
Fingers are now being pointed at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the government body responsible for investigating potentially problematic vehicles and ordering recalls where necessary. But according to the administration and the Department of Transportation of which it's part, NHTSA is not to blame.
In fact, while GM has fired 15 employees over the ignition-switch debacle, The Detroit News notes that NHTSA has not dismissed or even disciplined a single employee for not having caught the problem sooner. Both NHTSA chief David Friedman (pictured above, right) and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (behind Friedman) say that the government is not to blame, and needn't be held accountable for not having ordered a recall because it could not have known there was a problem. This despite, NHTSA officials having alerted the agency to the issue back in 2007.
NHTSA may have to face some difficult questions and potential repercussions soon, however, as the commerce committees in both the House and the Senate plan to hold hearings into the matter later this year.