GM’s CEO Came to Congress With Fixes. Congress Told Her to Do More.

Mary Barra testified Wednesday on why the automaker took so long to address a deadly defect.

National Journal
Marina Koren
June 18, 2014, 8:05 a.m.

Mary Barra ar­rived at the Cap­it­ol with a much-an­ti­cip­ated list of fixes on Wed­nes­day.

The CEO of Gen­er­al Mo­tors told the House En­ergy and Com­merce’s Over­sight and In­vest­ig­a­tion Sub­com­mit­tee that her com­pany has taken a series of steps fol­low­ing a re­cent in­tern­al re­port that found the auto­maker took more than a dec­ade to ad­dress an ig­ni­tion-switch de­fect. The faulty fea­ture has been linked to at least 54 ac­ci­dents and 13 deaths, and GM has re­called 20 mil­lion cars so far.

“I told our team as bluntly as I knew how that the series of ques­tion­able ac­tions and in­ac­tions un­covered in the in­vest­ig­a­tion were in­ex­cus­able,” Barra said Wed­nes­day. “I also told them that while I want to solve the prob­lems as quickly as pos­sible, I nev­er want any­one as­so­ci­ated with GM to for­get what happened. I want this ter­rible ex­per­i­ence per­man­ently etched in our col­lect­ive memor­ies.”

In re­sponse to the May re­port, GM has, ac­cord­ing to Barra:

  • Fired 15 em­ploy­ees iden­ti­fied in the re­port.
  • Re­struc­tured its “safety de­cision-mak­ing pro­cess” so that seni­or man­age­ment will be kept in the know about prob­lems.
  • Hired someone to es­tab­lish a com­pens­a­tion fund for vic­tims and fam­il­ies af­fected by the de­fect.
  • Hired a vice pres­id­ent of glob­al safety and 35 safety in­vest­ig­at­ors.
  • Cre­ated a pro­gram called Speak Up For Safety to en­cour­age em­ploy­ees to re­port po­ten­tial safety is­sues.

This last change was the most sa­li­ent for mem­bers of Con­gress at Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing. Last month’s re­port cited a lax cor­por­ate cul­ture with­in GM that gen­er­ated a “lack of ac­count­ab­il­ity and a lack of ur­gency” in ad­dress­ing the de­fect. Barra and the rest of GM, some law­makers say, should fo­cus on fix­ing that work en­vir­on­ment.

Rep. Bruce Bra­ley, D-Iowa, called the at­mo­sphere at GM a “cul­ture of ir­re­spons­ib­il­ity” and said the car man­u­fac­turer has “in­sti­tu­tion­al prob­lems much more far-reach­ing than simply fir­ing 15 em­ploy­ees.”

Rep. Di­ana De­Gette, D-Colo., the rank­ing mem­ber of the sub­com­mit­tee, said that by ter­min­at­ing em­ploy­ees, Barra has “only cre­ated more para­noia with­in the com­pany that people are go­ing to lose their jobs,” mak­ing them less likely to speak up about prob­lems.

Two hours in­to the hear­ing, mem­bers of the com­mit­tee con­tin­ued grilling Barra. The fixes she brought be­fore them may have been a good start in the in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the re­calls, but they’re cer­tainly not the end of it.

What We're Following See More »
“CLINTON MUST BECOME THE NEXT PRESIDENT”
Bernie Sanders Seeks to Unite the Party
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Instead of his usual stump speech, Bernie Sanders tonight threw his support behind Hillary Clinton, providing a clear contrast between Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump on the many issues he used to discuss in his campaign stump speeches. Sanders spoke glowingly about the presumptive Democratic nominee, lauding her work as first lady and as a strong advocate for women and the poor. “We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor,” he said. “Hillary Clinton will make a great president, and I am proud to stand with her tonight."

“MUST NEVER BE PRESIDENT”
Elizabeth Warren Goes After Donald Trump
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a stark contrast from Michelle Obama's uplifting speech, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke about the rigged system plaguing Americans before launching into a full-throated rebuke of GOP nominee Donald Trump. Trump is "a man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone," she claimed, before saying he "must never be president of the United States." She called him divisive and selfish, and said the American people won't accept his "hate-filled America." In addition to Trump, Warren went after the Republican Party as a whole. "To Republicans in Congress who said no, this November the American people are coming for you," she said.

FLOTUS OFFERS STRONG ENDORSEMENT OF CLINTON
Michelle Obama: “I Trust” Hillary Clinton
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"In this election, and every election, it's about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives," Michelle Obama said. "There is only one person who I trust with that responsibility … and that is our friend Hillary Clinton." In a personal and emotional speech, Michelle Obama spoke about the effect that angry oppositional rhetoric had on her children and how she chose to raise them. "When they go low, we go high," Obama said she told her children about dealing with bullies. Obama stayed mostly positive, but still offered a firm rebuke of Donald Trump, despite never once uttering his name. "The issues a president faces cannot be boiled down to 140 characters," she said.

SANDERS BACKER CONFRONTS STUBBORN SANDERS SUPPORTERS
Sarah Silverman to Bernie or Bust: “You’re Being Ridiculous”
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Many Bernie Sanders delegates have spent much of the first day of the Democratic National Convention resisting unity, booing at mentions of Hillary Clinton and often chanting "Bernie! Bernie!" Well, one of the most outspoken Bernie Sanders supporters just told them to take a seat. "To the Bernie-or-bust people: You're being ridiculous," said comedian Sarah Silverman in a brief appearance at the Convention, minutes after saying that she would proudly support Hillary Clinton for president.

‘INEXCUSABLE REMARKS’
DNC Formally Apologizes to Bernie Sanders
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Democratic National Committee issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders today, after leaked emails showed staffers trying to sabotage his presidential bid. "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," DNC officials said in the statement. "These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not—and will not—tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates."

Source:
×