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GM suspends two engineers, intros 'speak up for safety' program

Engineers -- not upper-level managers -- appear to be taking the blame for ignition-switch debacle.

General Motors has placed two engineers on paid leave as part of its ongoing investigation into the ignition-switch debacle.

The decision was reportedly made following a briefing from the lead investigator, former US attorney Anton Valukas, as the company continues to search for answers regarding what went wrong.

Legislators have also pressured the company to identify and fire anyone who may have been responsible for making the decisions that allowed the issue to remain unaddressed for more than a decade.

It is unclear if Valukas' investigation has identified any higher-level managers who may have pressured engineers to make cost-cutting decisions. Recent reports suggest the company had been pushing its engineers and suppliers to shave pennies from production costs, in a quest to match component prices that could have been achieved by sourcing directly from China.

"This is an interim step as we seek the truth about what happened," said GM CEO Mary Barra. "It was a difficult decision, but I believe it is best for GM."

The company has also announced a new initiative, "Speak Up for Safety," that aims to recognize employees for ideas that make vehicles safer. At an employee meeting this morning, Barra told workers the campaign will attempt to remove "perceived and real barriers" to candid conversations between employees and managers, particularly when someone spots a potential safety issue.

"GM must embrace a culture where safety and quality come first," Barra added. "GM employees should raise safety concerns quickly and forcefully, and be recognized for doing so."

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