There’s been a lot of discussion about accountability in regards to the General Motors ignition switch recall. While today we have the “New GM” as a legal entity, there’s still indication that organizational issues remain at GM. Nowhere has this been more glaring than with the discovery of a document signed by Ray DeGiorgio approving a redesigned ignition lock.
Now, several weeks after this discovery, DeGiorgio and Gary Altman, an engineering manager of the Cobalt program, have been placed on paid leave for their roles leading to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles with faulty ignition switches. The switches are tied to 13 deaths.
Altman oversaw several inquiries into reports of stalling, including his own experience in 2004 where he accidentally bumped the ignition with his knee and turned off the vehicle.
“This is an interim step as we seek the truth about what happened. It was a difficult decision, but I believe it is best for GM,” said CEO Mary Barra. She has been under pressure ever since she testified before lawmakers in Washington that DeGiorgio was still employed at General Motors despite evidence that he may have lied under oath in a deposition brought by one of the 13 crash victims. DeGiorgio testified that he wasn’t aware that GM had made any change to the part, but documents show DeGiorgio approved a design change in 2006.
However, Automotive News reports that the sign-off by DeGiorgio was not an authorization but, rather, a “validation sign-off,” which contradicts the assertion that he lied under oath.
“GM must embrace a culture where safety and quality come first,” Barra said in a statement regarding the introduction of a new safety program called Speak Up for Safety. “GM employees should raise safety concerns quickly and forcefully, and be recognized for doing so.”