Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), will go back to Congress to testify and provide further details regarding the delayed recall of millions of vehicles with defective ignition switches that caused 13 deaths.
Barra will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations panel on June 18, according to an anonymous staffer because the hearing is not yet announced to the public.
Former U.S. Attorney and current chairman of Jenner & Block LLC Anton Valukas, who led the internal investigation of General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) regarding the cause of the delay of the recall, is also expected to testify before the Congress.
Barra appeared before the Congress in April regarding the recall related to the defective ignition switches that was delayed for more than a decade. In her written testimony, Barra said she can’t tell why it took years for General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) to announce the safety defects under its small car program, but she emphasized that the automaker will find out.
At the time, she informed the Congress that the automaker engaged the services of Valukas to “conduct a thorough and unimpeded investigation of the actions” of General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) regarding the problem.
“As soon as l learned about the problem, we acted without hesitation. We told the world we had a problem that needed to be fixed. We did so because whatever mistakes were made in the past, we will not shirk from our responsibilities now and in the future. Today’s GM will do the right thing,” according to Barra’s written testimony at the time.
She also expressed her sincere apologies to those affected by the recall, most especially to the friends and families of those who lost their lives or were injured.
GM internal investigation findings
General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) presented the findings of Valukas’ internal investigation last week. The findings were described by Barra as “brutally tough and deeply troubling.” Barra said Valukas’ report is “extremely thorough’ given the fact that he examined millions of pages of documents and interviewed hundreds of employees regarding the recall.
Valukas’ internal investigation found a “pattern of incompetence and negligence” among the employees that should have been responsible for dealing with the recall on a timely manner.
“Repeatedly, individuals failed to disclose critical pieces of information that could have fundamentally changed the lives of those impacted by a faulty ignition switch. If this information had been disclosed, I believe in my heart the company would have dealt with this matter appropriately,” according to Barra.
GM fired 15 employees involved in the recall delay
General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) terminated the employment of 15 employees relating to the recall. The majority are senior executives involved in the decision-making process regarding the recall. The automaker did not identify all of the fired employees, but confirmed that engineers Raymond DeGiorgio and Gary Altman are among those who failed to perform their responsibilities.
According to Barra, many people including engineers, investigators and lawyers within General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) were aware about the defective ignition switches, but nobody raised the problem to the highest level within the automaker.
“Overall, the report found that, from start to finish, the Cobalt saga was riddled with failures which led to tragic results for many,” said Barra.