• Apr 16th 2014 at 8:01AM
  • 32

Barra announced that she's creating another group within the company that will monitor new products for safety issues.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra continued to make changes Tuesday, which she said would help lead the embattled company out of a crisis caused by deadly defects in some of its vehicles.

On the eve of the New York Auto Show, Barra announced that she's creating another group within the company, the "global product integrity organization," that will monitor new products for safety issues. Mark Reuss, the company's vice president of global product development, will head the new group.

"This is a group that, may parts of it, will be dedicated to reviewing products going through the pipeline now, and in the future," said Barra who was making her first public appearance since testifying before Congress two weeks ago.

The group will work in tandem with Jeff Boyer, who was appointed last month to the newly created position of vice president of global vehicle safety. Barra touted several internal initiatives she's made at General Motors in the wake of the widening recall crisis – which has affected more than 2.5 million cars and caused at least 31 car accidents – including Boyer's appointment.

But much like she did in her testimony before two Congressional committees, Barra wouldn't answer questions on whether the company would create a fund to compensate victims. Nor would she answer whether GM would support new laws that required automakers to report more information to federal regulators, saying she needed to wait for an internal investigation to be completed.
One day earlier, Barra ousted two high-ranking executives from their positions, including Selim Bingol, the former senior vice president of communication. The moderator at an automotive forum, hosted by the National Auto Dealers Association and J.D. Power, poked at Barra's initial explanation of the move: "There's a PR crisis, you replace the PR chief. But that has nothing to do with the crisis. Really?"

Barra ousted two high-ranking executives from their positions, including Selim Bingol.

"He's moving on to pursue other interests," she said, "but beyond that, that's an issue between employee and company."

Among other updates provided Tuesday, Barra said the company's work with Kenneth Feinberg, a lawyer renowned for working as a mediator between victims and companies, remains on track for some sort of conclusion by the end of May.

On suspending two engineers last week whose work was with the heart of the ignition-switch defect, Barra said, "Let me be really clear, these are real people with real careers, and I'm personally dedicated to making sure we have true facts of what happened ... We agonized over that decision, but we thought that was the right thing for the individuals and right thing for the company at this time."

Four days after an email released by the House Energy & Commerce Committee showed that a chief investigator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had described GM as "slow to act" on at least six safety-related issues between 2011 and 2013, Barra said the company had improved its efforts to comply with regulators.

The company did not answer all questions posed by NHTSA investigators by an April 3 deadline.

"I'm getting very good feedback on receptiveness with what they're seeing now," Barra said. "Jeff Boyer is having regular sessions with NHTSA, and they've made some suggestions on how we can improve, and we'll implement them immediately."

Yet General Motors still has not complied with a special order issued by NHTSA. The company did not answer all questions posed by investigators by an April 3 deadline, and continues to accrue a $7,000 per day fine.

NHTSA is one of several federal entities conducting an investigation of the company, which knew of problems with the flawed parts as early as 2001 but did not announce a recall until this February. A House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, and the Senate Commerce Committee held hearings in early April, and the Department of Justice has indicated it will probe potential criminal wrongdoing.

On Tuesday, Barra said she had no knowledge of whether the DOJ had requested documents from the automaker, nor knowledge of whether any had been turned over.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Such a large organization and didn't already have a safety team? Next we find out they didn't actually have an accounting department.
      • 1 Year Ago
      real individuals with real careers, who exhibited real negligence that led to real deaths. noone gives a wet **** about their careers Mary. keeping GM alive has been a charity effort that isnt paying off.
      • 1 Year Ago
      What?!?! This is like Bush's response to 911! A new group is not needed! They had ALL the data already, they just chose either not to communicate or not to act. Pftht.
        • 1 Year Ago
        BDS : Bush Derangement Syndrome - infected carriers display harsh symptoms for years and years.
          • 1 Year Ago
          Liberals reaction to every problem in the past 15 years "Its Bush's fault" Hint to libs, that train has sailed....Barry's second term is shaping up just like GWB's.
      • 1 Year Ago
      so wait.. youre telling me all this time, they didnt have such a unit monitoring safety? what the ever living ****
        • 1 Year Ago
        No car company does, safety is just part of the overall design of the car and the teams that design them. The team leader has the responsibility to make sure the product is ready for market and that includes safety items. Whoever signed off on that part being used AFTER they found out it was bad, needs to be shown the door and FAST so GM can get past this.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Better late then ___ , Oh, nevermind.
      Sooper Edd
      • 1 Year Ago
      What does it matter if you create 100 "Safety Organizations" while employees brush things under the rug, lie about it and as a company not take responsibility ? Hey GM, here's a novel idea, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY, instead of trying to dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge the fact people died because of your negligence.
      • 1 Year Ago
      "internal investigation" - translation - burn as much evidence as we can "these are real people with real careers" ... "We agonized over that decision" - translation - Its better to burn some engineers than burn our executives I really want GM to pull out of this, I love Cadillac, the Corvette, and Buick, but I'm having a real hard time trusting anything these GM executives are saying. I don't think Mary is "new GM," I think she is simply old GM with a new gender. Please prove me wrong. :-(
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well I'm glad they're doing something - company culture needs to change and heads need to roll. Not sure the VP of PR is really the person to blame though. "This is a PR crisis" isn't HHS right way to describe it; this is an engineering and cover-up crisis that has caused a lot of bad PR - shooting the messenger doesn't really solve any problems.
        • 1 Year Ago
        They should staff this organization with all the VP's that let this happen in the first place. Pay them 50k a year that might get their attention.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just like the government. Create another division or agency to overlook and make sure another division is doing its job in the same damn company. Mistakes like this shouldn't happen anyway, and if they do, it shouldn't years to rectify.
      • 1 Year Ago
      One more layer to buffer Barra from telling the truth. However, it looks like Barra spent a little of her salary, went to the mall and got some glamour shots--not that it helped that much.
      William Weisberg
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is just another dog and pony show by GM. Good luck douche bags.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Seriously? More of the "old" GM thinking.
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