Whoever said that silence is golden obviously was not talking about GM’s refusal to answer certain questions asked by the federal government. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is fighting mad about the whole ignition switch debacle GM has been caught up in lately, and the government agency is firing off all sorts of questions to find out just how much the automaker knew about the bad switches and understand why nothing was done to correct the problem. GM’s preferred response to at least some of the questions is silence, lest it say something that causes a whole new load of problems.
GM’s silence is already becoming expensive since NHTSA is hitting the company with a $7,000 fine for every day the automaker does not answer all of the questions asked. So far, GM has 107 different questions to answer. Those questions were supposed to have been answered back on April 3, meaning that on the 4th the fees began and are continuing to accrue.
Of course, given the humongous size of GM, a mere $7,000 is like a regular person losing a penny. Considering that the company stands to lose considerably more money, and even more of the public’s trust, based on how it handles the resolution of the faulty ignition switches, it should be no surprise that GM is taking its time to respond carefully. In the end, NHTSA is letting GM know that noncompliance is serious, and it is setting an example for other automakers, which lately have been very eager to recall anything faulty on vehicles.
NHTSA is not the only group that is dissatisfied with the information, or the lack thereof, being supplied by GM. Various members of the United States House of Representatives have said that they are not humored by the insufficient answers supplied by GM CEO Mary Barra when she showed up at a Congressional hearing on the recall.
Whether GM sincerely does not have the answer to tough questions or it is playing games to make it appear that way is a topic of great debate right now.