This news story was one of the featured news reports on the latest Google News highlights. EETimes is a wonderful channel to communicate technical information to the public. I guess GM is squeezed between a rock and a hard place: "criminal activity" vs. "incompetence and neglect". Neither one of them are good.
I find it interesting that a report at this level blames individuals, and by implication individuals lower down in the organization: "Repeatedly, individuals failed to disclose critical pieces of information that could have changed the lives of those impacted by the faulty ignition switch."
Individuals, repeatedly = corporate culture issue
Responsibility has to rest with the top management and ultimately the board.
Having worked to top management in a lot of corporations, I gather this is the result to push for short term profits over anything else. Wikipedia cites NPR stating "General Motors was aware of this potential problem, and holding meetings about it, as early as 2005, but decided against fixing it because it would take too long and cost too much money." GM are not alone. This happens in a lot of corporations.
Corporate top management, including the past ones, need to stand up and be counted, and ultimately, prosecuted. They take risks and are paid for it, and there is a downside.
@gadgetry ...individuals lower down in the organization: "Repeatedly, individuals failed to disclose critical pieces of information that could have changed the lives of those impacted by the faulty ignition switch."
Had these individuals voiced their concerns they might have been branded as "shyte disturbers" and fired that much sooner.
@Zeeglen: Agreed. I was recently employed at a company where I was tasked to work on cooling a "production approved" circuit which "worked" under the "right" conditions but had a little problem of SMD resistors falling off when too hot (300F +/- 100F). Yet, when properly cooled, it failed to function because this circuit needed the high resistor heat to cause some of the nearby SMD capacitors to breakdown enough to pass a needed RF signal. So this circuit, after passing an initial burst of RF signals, would not start working again until two or so minutes of resistor heating had passed. The present circuit design had "functioned" for a few years at the site and the only problem needing to be fixed was some SMD resistors falling off too soon before the calculated MTBF. I found a simple solution and showed some lower "powers that be". By adding a 1/16 watt pigtail resistor to the circuit, a multitude of RF sins were corrected and this quick fix would allow the additional cooling of the circuit to do its work without causing any RF dropouts. Being new to the company, I did not realize the major faux pas I had made just by insinuating that there may be a design problem with a production circuit that successfully passed through several layers of engineers and all the hoops, loops, tests, and endless meetings of the company's perfect lock step design process that prevented all mistakes (oh the audacity, what impudence I showed). Later I was told by some fellow workers and lower management that finding this new problem would likely cause a Government examination, document changes, board redesigns, board swap outs, retesting, and the Government would not look too kindly on this new costly problem (I "created") popping up during the company's upcoming contract review (oddly, the Gov. waved those tedious heat/power tests). Over the next few months I had the feeling of being a dead man walking and all the air being sucked out of the room. Certain upper/mid management and engineers now would not speak to me as before or acknowledge my presence as they would with others new hires and I was relegated to correcting documents in my small room. A fellow new hire admitted later that he had the heads up for weeks from management that I was not going to have my contract renewed. I had just finished training this "problem safe" shot gunning/board swapper how to fix the same circuit to the component level since I was supposedly being moved to "a new project" (later not funded) and needed to hand off all my current projects. Strangely, many of the original engineers of this wonderful circuit had either bailed to other projects or other companies just before I came on board. Sorry, but I digress, wasn't the question why do lower employees self-censor and why are problems not reported up the chain for management to correct?
It is sad sometimes how the upper management doesn't have a good ears to the problems and no wonder lot of problems will never reach the top brass. It is important to reward the people in companies who identify the bad stuff as much as who does the new things.
What you are seeing is just one tiny aspect of why GM should have gone through the full bankruptcy process - including breaking it up into smaller units. To paraphrase the oft used political slogan "GM is alive but its customers are dead."
The individuals involved are going to have a hard time getting new jobs.
Apart from having been publicly named, can you imagine trying to explain the contents of the "reason for leaving your last company" box on the application form? (Assuming you can get anyone to let you that far.)
Anybody who's read "On a Clear Day, You Can See General Motors" is unlikely to have been surprised by the internal failings revealed by the report. The real problem in this case is that government CAFE regulations forced GM to sell cars they couldn't afford to build properly.
I propose that a whistleblower of the year award be created by GM for the person who eascalates the most important issue to senior management each year. If employees were trying to speak truth to power, rather than hiding it, these problems would quickly get addressed. I'd bet that the size of the recalls would also shrink if issues were escalated quickly.
The June 23, 2014 How GM Silenced Its Whistle-Blowers cover story of Bloomberg Business Week makes it clear that GM strongly resisted recall initiatives and punished quality control staff who sought to remedy issues they observed. I'm glad that determined investigators managed to uncover problems that should have been reported long ago.
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