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Lawmakers could press Barra on GM report findings

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 18, 2014 at 8:17 am •  Published: June 18, 2014
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers are likely to express skepticism about some findings of a General Motors' investigation into its mishandled recall of 2.6 million small cars when CEO Mary Barra appears before Congress Wednesday.

According to a congressional aide, members will have more questions about how much Barra knew about a problem with the ignition switches in the cars when she was GM product development chief. Barra said in previous testimony in April that she first learned of the problem late last year. The GM report exonerated Barra and other top executives.

The aide requested anonymity because the questions haven't been made public.

Former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas, who was hired by GM to do the investigation, will also testify. Panel members will question Valukas on his conclusions that a lone engineer, Ray DeGiorgio, was able to approve the use of a switch that didn't meet company specifications, and years later, to order a change to that switch without anyone else at GM being aware, the congressional aide said.

The panel's own investigation turned up evidence that at least five other GM employees were aware that DeGiorgio ordered the company that made the part to change the switch, the aide said.

Barra plans to tell lawmakers that she's taken steps to fix GM in the wake of the small car recall. She authorized a companywide safety review that has led to more than 40 recalls this year that cover almost 18 million cars in the U.S. GM has said that more are possible.

Here are some other questions lawmakers are likely to ask Barra and Valukas:

BARRA

—Q: How does GM plan to change the cumbersome corporate culture laid bare by Valukas's report?

Valukas' investigation found that a pattern of incompetence and neglect within GM kept the ignition switch problem concealed for 11 years. Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, the senior Democrat on the Energy and Commerce investigative subcommittee, said this week she wants to know "what are they going to do to break this culture." Barra has acknowledged that the report drew a "deeply troubling" portrait of GM as an organization. According to her prepared remarks, Barra will tell the hearing that GM has restructured its process for making safety decisions "to raise it to the highest levels of the company," among a number of changes.

—Q: How will GM compensate victims of crashes linked to the faulty switches?

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