The investigation into the lack of GM’s response when faulty ignition switches were used in multiple models has now resulted in two of the company’s engineers being put on paid leave. The move was made as GM conducts its own internal investigation into what happened, while at the same time facing an increasingly frustrated and skeptical federal government and public. According to The Detroit Free Press, the two engineers were put on paid leave after GM top brass were briefed by an internal investigator hired by the company, who happens to be former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas.
GM so far has stated that it will not officially identify the engineers who have been put on leave. Representatives say its an “interim step” as the investigation moves forward, saying it is a move that will help the company continue its investigation. The move by the automaker is not entirely a surprise, considering that during the recent Senate hearing on the recall, a single engineer was targeted in questioning by Senator Claire McCaskill. That engineer was accused of covering up the problem with the faulty ignition switches. Even more serious, the auto giant was accused of not releasing critical documents that would have implicated it in several legal cases.
Interestingly enough, GM engineers caught the faulty spring used in the infamous ignition switches and swapped it out for a superior design, but the part number was retained. Senator McCaskill says this move was a deliberate one to cover up the problem if an investigation were ever launched, a theory that has been echoed by others. Ironically, this move has meant that GM has to replace the ignition switches in cars that have the updated spring.
As GM continues to play damage control, it has started up an internal program designed at making its vehicles safer in the future. The Speak Up for Safety program solicits ideas from workers at all levels about how to make any vehicle safer.