GM Report Blames One Engineer – Rubbish
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.
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
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