General Motors has determined through an internal probe that the faulty ignition switch started with and remained unfixed largely because of Ray DeGiorgio, the engineer in charge of the defective parts. According to a report of the investigation conducted by former federal prosecutor Anton Valukas, DeGiorgio approved an ignition switch that he knew was faulty and then secretly signed off a change years later.
The 325-page report also found that the engineer misled coworkers who were looking into crashes and customer complaints. DeGiorgio, whose name was mentioned 207 times in the report, is one of 15 employees that GM has dismissed over what chef executive Mary Barra described as a "pattern of misconduct and incompetence."
The report said that the engineer’s poor judgment, subpar engineering work and dreadful memory were to be blamed for the "catastrophic results" – dozens of crashes and 13 deaths. The report said that DeGiorgio could have saved lives by ultimately fixing the faulty part, but the approach he had taken also delayed detection of the defect.
Valukas wrote in the report that DeGiorgio changed the ignition switch to solve the issue in later model years of the Cobalt, but “failed to document it, told no one, and claimed to remember nothing about the change."
Valukas also found that DeGiorgio made a "deliberate" decision to have the part number unchanged, which is a violation of GM policies and have thrown probers off the track for years.
The report said there is no question that DeGiorgio knew that the ignition switch failed to comply with GM's specifications when he approved it in 2002. DeGiorgio told probers in March and in May that he didn't realize it was a safety risk since the parts concerned worked without incident during testing. [source: automotive news - sub. required]