Valukas Report Puts GM in the Right Direction
The General Motors ignition switch recall has plagued new CEO, Mary Barra, ever since her appointment in late January. In the latest turn of events, the company has received the “Valukas Report,” the findings of an investigation conducted by former U.S. Attorney, Anton Valukas, into the Cobalt ignition switch recall that has been riddled with trouble. According to Barra, GM will act on all of the report’s recommendations.
Again, Barra expressed the deepest sympathy for the victims and their families and friends. She also announced that Kenneth Feinberg would be heading a compensation program for those who have suffered serious injuries due to the issue, and for those families who lost a loved one.
According to Barra, the findings of the Valukas report are “extremely thorough, brutally tough, and deeply troubling.” Yet the report is absolutely necessary for Barra, for GM, and for the auto industry in general, as it contains the best moves for GM to take going forward, and serves as a lesson to other automakers as well.
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“Overall the report found that, from start to finish, the Cobalt saga was riddled with failures which led to tragic results for many,” Barra commented.
According to Barra, 15 individuals were released after it had been determined they acted inappropriately. GM took disciplinary actions against five more.
Tim Solso, GM Chairman, also made some comments: “The Board engaged Anton Valukas to investigate and determine what went wrong while already working with GM’s leadership to make necessary changes. We have received and reviewed Valukas’ very thorough report and are continuing to work with management to oversee the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.
“In addition, the Board also retained independent counsel to advise us with respect to this situation and governance and risk management issues. We will establish a stand-alone risk committee to assist in overseeing these efforts.” Solso added. “The Board, like management, is committed to changing the company’s culture and processes to ensure that the problems described in the Valukas report never happen again.
“The Valukas report confirmed that Mary Barra, Mike Millikin and Mark Reuss did not learn about the ignition switch safety issues and the delay in addressing them until after the decision to issue a recall was made on Jan. 31, 2014,” Solso finished.
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Barra hit on some of the changes that GM has already adopted, and changes that the company will be adopting, to ensure that GM does not make the same mistakes again. Some of these changes include the appointment of Jeff Boyer to Vice President of Global Vehicle Safety, the addition of 35 product safety investigators to the GM team, the institution of the Speak up for Safety program, the creation of a new Global Product Integrity organization, and the restructuring of the recall decision making process.
“Together, we have to understand that the attitudes and practices that allowed this failure to occur will not be tolerated,” Barra stated. “Also, if we think that cleaning up this problem and making a few process changes will be enough, we are badly mistaken. Our job is not just to fix the problem. Our job must be to set a new industry standard for safety, quality, and excellence.”