GM Report Blames One Engineer – Rubbish

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If you have been following the GM recall fiasco news, you know the Valukas report basically places the blame on one engineer. That’s rubbish. Here’s why.

GM Report Blames One Engineer - Rubbish

GM’s ignition switch recall leaves a deadly legacy.

A quick update for those not following the news. The Valukas report says Ray DeGiorgio as the lone engineer who manipulated the system and hide the problem. It spells out numerous instances where DeGiorgio either lied to other GM engineers and/or ignored critical communications. Instead, DeGiorgio appears to have been focused on a cold weather start issue with the ignition switch.

Ray DeGiorgio – Fall Guy

GM Report Blames One Engineer - Rubbish

Ray DeGiorgio

While yes, DeGiorgio was a big part of the problem and his personal pride helped conceal the problem, GM dismissed a total of 15 people. DeGiorgio played a role, no doubt. But, we shouldn’t place all the blame on him.

We decided to call a retired GM engineer for his insight into the matter since putting all the blame on DeGiorgio didn’t smell right to us. Our source, who choose to be anonymous, worked on the truck side for 37 years. He either meet or knew some of the people involved.

He said, “no way” when I asked if DeGiorgio could have hidden the entire problem on his own. GM has all sorts of design review meetings, he said, that the defective switch would have been discussed at. His boss knew of the problems.

Supporting his claim is the fact Gary Altman was also fired. Altman was the lead program person in charge of that program. Altman simply HAD to be aware of the problem. Why wouldn’t you address the problem? Our source says there was so much pressure to release the Cobalt at that time, they most likely hid the problem. In their defense, he says nobody could foresee, at that time, what the problem would grow into.

The Valukas report disagrees with this assessment and says that “there’s no evidence that anyone else knew the switch was out-of-spec at the time.”

Using a bit of common sense here, if you were trying to hid a problem, would you document that you talked about it at a meeting? Nope. Again, it doesn’t smell right to us.

Problem Inadvertently Fixed

To DeGiorgio’s credit, he did fix the problem and ordered a new part. However, he was working on fixing the cold weather start issue. During that time, he discussed with the Delphi Automotive about increasing the torque on the switch. Making this change, probably saved many more lives. But, DeGiorgio never changed the part number, alerted his bosses (or so we are lead to believe) and to this day denies remembering making the change.

DeGiorgio’s downfall looks to be a case of pride and unwillingness to own up for errors. This speaks to his character and it looks like he lied under oath. Also, background checks into his college history have shown he lied on his application. Apparently, he said he got a Master’s degree in management from Central Michigan University. The school can’t back up that claim.

Management System to Blame

The scapegoat seems to be DeGiorgio. However, the larger problem is GM’s management system. This system has been attacked by outsiders for years as being too slow and having a lack of accountability.

Our source says the truck side was great for many years until the politics and car guys took over.

“When I worked on the truck side in the 1990s, it was open and honest. We all worked hard to get the best quality vehicle to the customer,” our source told us. “If we got an inkling of a problem, we would all get solve it. We did what was best for the customer.

The car guys just lunged around and didn’t care. Then, their sheer numbers took over in the 2000-10s and the truck side and GM wasn’t as much fun. It wasn’t about the customer anymore. It was all about the politics. You would be shocked at how much politics is in the upper levels of GM.

Politics overwhelmed the products and the products suffered.”

We are seeing the result of this lack of focusing on the product through the sheer number of recalls GM has been issuing. The days when GM didn’t release a recall seem few and far in between.

This recall fiasco is a terrible black eye for GM and it is our hope, Barra will use this as a mandate to make substantial changes to the management team. The fact is, like it or not, these recalls make the whole industry look bad. GM needs to continue to own up to their mistakes and clean house. We will all be better for it.

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. Randy says:

    GM is strictly a “political vehicle” and essentially a branch of government to funnel money to the EU. If the financial statements of GM were audited under the pre Sarbanes Oxley area of 2002, it would be declared a financial fraud which in fact it is. Still at least half of America believes they are in the business to make and sell cars….it is analogous to the mafia setting up a legal store front to launder the money for illegal operations.

  2. smokey says:

    “When I worked on the truck side in the 1990s, it was open and honest. We all worked hard to get the best quality vehicle to the customer,”

    This show how bad GM is. The guy thinks GM was building quality trucks in the 90s. I drove them and if that’s what he thinks is quality GM is a dead dog.

    Toyota is going to take over for sure.

    • Aaron says:

      Toyota’s not taking anything over. Unless they very soon start to add more manufacturing, they aren’t going to get any bigger. Nissan, however, is aggressively moving towards growth come hell or high water. Meanwhile, Ram is making a huge comeback and seeing growth as well – as is the whole Chrysler line.

  3. mk says:

    one look at the new 2014 reading up on the gmtruck forum shows they are not any better in 2014 as in the 2000 era and 1990’s.

    Look at the 1990’s, GM sold a ton of P.O.S. Cavaliers dirt cheap at 10K selling price. Not very quality vehicles a rattletrap bucket but they sold since cheap. Now that GM vehicles are no longer cheaper than say Mazda or Hyundai, etc. or whomever, they are not selling as well either. Give me quality and I will buy a 2014 chevy silverado for more money than a comparable tundra – not happening anytime soon I don’t think?

    From 1990 to 1996 I worked for GM and got to visit the Detroit MI headquaters building. I tell you what, never saw in my life such high class establishments in my life and tons of middle/upper mgmt. in suits and ties in my life. Tons of wasted money in that era for sure.

  4. Simon says:

    The article says that Central Michigan says they cannot back up the claim that Ray got his Master’s there – I can say – that Ray did take several classes there – I know that because I took those classes with him. Central keeps denying in many articles that he attended school there – that is false.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Good to know. I wonder if they can’t say if he graduated or not. Really interesting that Central DOESN’T know.


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