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GM-Recall Response by NHTSA to Be Reviewed by U.S. Audit

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. agency overseeing the recall of 1.4 million General Motors Co. cars for a deadly ignition-switch defect will be the subject of an audit by the Transportation Department’s inspector general.

Inspector General Calvin Scovel said today he would review how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration handled the events leading up to last month’s recall. It will be the fourth time since 2002 that NHTSA’s safety-defects office has been investigated.

“Our office stands committed to working with Congress and Secretary Foxx in reviewing NHTSA’s programs and identifying opportunities to enhance its oversight and performance,” Scovel said in a statement posted to the office’s website.

GM notified NHTSA on Feb. 7 that it was recalling the Chevrolet Cobalt and the Pontiac G5, citing reports that jostling the key could cause the cars’ engines to stall and air bags to fail to deploy. The largest U.S. automaker expanded the recall Feb. 25, adding four models: the Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. The recall includes 1.4 million vehicles in the U.S. and about 200,000 additional vehicles sold in other countries.

Earlier today, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx asked Scovel to investigate how NHTSA handled the inquiry into GM, having “received numerous requests from Congress, the public and the press asking whether NHTSA acted in an expeditious and timely manner.”

The department isn’t aware of any information to suggest that NHTSA acted improperly, Foxx said. The department and the inspector general should do “an internal, due diligence review” of the agency’s actions between 2003 and Feb. 7, 2014.

“An audit by your office will ensure that DOT and NHTSA have a full understanding of the facts,” Foxx said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Plungis in Washington at jplungis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net Romaine Bostick, Michael Shepard

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