The Man Behind The Big Report Due Soon On GM’s Recall Crisis – Forbes

Posted: Monday, June 02, 2014

When General Motors’ General Motors’ recall crisis began to boil this winter, CEO Mary Barra appointed former federal prosecutor Anton Valukas to examine the company’s response to faulty ignition switches.

Now, Valukas is preparing to present his report, possibly as soon as this week. Automotive News says the findings could make him a household name in the auto industry.

Reporters Nick Bunkley and Mike Colias say Valukas is expected to provide insight to some of the most significant questions in the way GM handled its internal investigation, and provide an explanation of how so much could have gone wrong.

Thus far, GM has recalled nearly 2.6 million Chevrolet, Saturn and Pontiac small cars for a defect that could cause the vehicles’ ignitions to shut off without warning. There have been 13 deaths blamed on the problem thus far, although federal safety investigators say they expect the toll to rise as they comb through accident data.

Valukas is no stranger to high profile investigations. The Chicago-based attorney served as the U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois, and is probably best known for his work as the examiner in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy case.

His report on the bankruptcy is considered a valuable guide to the events that led up to the 2008 financial meltdown. You can read it here.

Given his reputation for clarity and detail, Valukas may be able to shed light in areas that have perplexed those following the GM recall situation. They include questions such as:

1) Which GM executives and managers knew about the ignition defect? Barra has said she did not learn complete details until Jan. 31 of this year. But federal investigators say GM knew as far back as 2009, and did not give the required notification to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

2) Why did GM approve a part change, but not change the part number? In 2006, GM okayed a redesign by its supplier, Delphi, but the part number stayed the same. Engineers have told Automotive News that this was a “cardinal sin” that apparently kept the company from tracing the defect for years.

3) Why wasn’t a recall issued earlier? There were several instances over the past decade when GM could have recalled all or some of the vehicles with faulty ignitions. Automotive News says that opportunities arose in 2004, 2009, 2012 and 2013, but no action was taken until this winter.

Check out this timeline of key dates involved in the GM recall situation. Once Valukas’ report comes out, we’ll update it with the very latest information.




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