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Software Transportation United States

Volkswagen Boss Blames Software Engineers For Scandal (bbc.co.uk) 479

hattig writes: Today VW's Michael Horn is testifying to Congress and has blamed the recent scandal on engineers saying: "It's the decision of a couple of software engineers, not the board members." However, 530,000 cars in the U.S. will need to be recalled for significant engine modifications, not a software fix. Only 80,000 Passats are eligible for the software fix. There is no word on the effects these modifications will have on the cars' performance, fuel consumption, etc. The BBC reports: "The issue of defeat devices at VW has been a historic problem, points out a Congress panel member questioning VW US chief Michael Horn. In 1974, VW had a run-in with US authorities regarding the use of defeat devices in 1974, and in December 2014 it recalled cars to address nox emissions."
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Volkswagen Boss Blames Software Engineers For Scandal

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  • Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @01:42PM (#50687989) Homepage Journal

    The previous events seem to point towards a problem in the company's culture, rather than just a couple engineers. Maybe I'm too cynical. But that's what it "smells" like.

    • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @01:45PM (#50688017)

      Perhaps. Although there is always going to be a temptation to cheat on things like tests.

      Still, process and checks should have been able to catch this. It may be that the engineers did it, but the managers failed to enact a process to catch it because it was overhead and not important.

      • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by soft_guy ( 534437 ) * on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:14PM (#50688305)
        More likely managers ordered the engineers to do it because of pressure from higher up.
        • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:58PM (#50688621)

          That's why You always ask for such orders in writing. And always make copies. Bureaucracy is the process of constant preparation for an eventual litigation.
          If You don't get the orders, get out while You still can, because You WILL be held responsible for it. Be happy if You only get sacked, and not sued into oblivion.

          • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @03:25PM (#50688809)

            That's why You always ask for such orders in writing. And always make copies. Bureaucracy is the process of constant preparation for an eventual litigation.
            If You don't get the orders, get out while You still can, because You WILL be held responsible for it. Be happy if You only get sacked, and not sued into oblivion.

            Depending on the corporate structure, you doom your career with the company if you ask for such orders in writing.

            • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Jack Griffin ( 3459907 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @04:07PM (#50689207)

              Depending on the corporate structure, you doom your career with the company if you ask for such orders in writing.

              If you are pursuing a career in a company that you know behaves in such ways then you get what you deserve. Give it to me in writing or I'm happy to find a job elsewhere.

              • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by pkinetics ( 549289 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @06:42PM (#50690215)
                That assumes you wouldn't get blackballed in the industry as a troublemaker, or some other subtle keyword passed back and forth thing.
              • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @09:15PM (#50690833)
                What then? That's really why this is blowing up so much. Seriously. VW is going to get fined a couple of billion. That's not even chump change. Nobody at that level gives two shits about pride, and the average consumer will forget this same as they forgot Toyota's acceleration problems. What _has_ come out is that _everyone_ was cheating, they were just better at it so that when they got caught there was some doubt and nobody got in real trouble. So what the hell do you do if you're an engineer and this is industry practice?

                It's like a buddy of mine who used to drive truck and followed the rules. He went from company to company and they all promised him he'd never drive over limit. And when he didn't they eventually stopped giving him runs. For all you're talk that's not the way the real world works.
            • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by magarity ( 164372 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @05:24PM (#50689783)

              You don't have to outright ask for orders in writing; just notify manager via email of the progress you're making on the emissions cheat project and ask an innocent question. Print out and keep the reply as proof management is complicit.

              • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Pubstar ( 2525396 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @11:31PM (#50691287)
                I work as a contractor for the goverment. Anytime a Civilian gives me an order I know is wrong over the phone or in person, I email them paraphrasing what was said and ask a stupid question about it. I then use that email to forward to my Civ POC to get things sorted out. Its been a live saver several times.
            • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by painandgreed ( 692585 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @06:04PM (#50690025)

              Depending on the corporate structure, you doom your career with the company if you ask for such orders in writing.

              Never ask, just do it and send them back an email saying "I did X as you instructed me to but the problems Y and Z are still there, do you want me to do anything about it?" to create a paper trail.

              • This. Also make sure the e-paper trail can't be easily erased. It may not be enough to send one email to one person, send a few CCs to fellow team members, maybe a BCC to your own private outside email account, though that last can also get you in trouble for divulging company secrets. So, maybe sneakernet the emails out. If they'd demand that you break the law, they'd also lean on the system administrators to "clean" the company's servers, and never mind Sarbanes-Oxley. You'd hope system administrator

          • Assuming you are not working for the military asking for written orders is sure to raise a few eyebrows and it is really not necessary as long as you take care to document the exchange.

            1. Make sure the meetings time and date is recorded on the companies calendar system.

            2. Write up a report on the meeting and file it in the companies records system.

            3. Write a email to team-members explaining that you will be diverting resources to work on this project order by Management.

            4. Comment the code to make it cle

        • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @07:24PM (#50690447)

          More likely managers ordered the engineers to do it because of pressure from higher up.

          Bosch has openly said that they warned VW about the code in their ECU's being illegal in 2007. The VW management don't get to plead ignorant on this.

      • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Daemonik ( 171801 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:23PM (#50688363) Homepage
        The engineers did it because the CEO on down told them to make it happen or go find another job. There were far too many sensors on the car involved with this cheat for anyone to believe it was just a few rogue engineers.
        • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by tgatliff ( 311583 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @03:26PM (#50688819)

          Bosch Egrs wrote and tested the software and not VW. Someone at VW requested the change and paid Bosch to do it. Also, Bosch later sent a letter to VW telling them it would be illegal if they deployed this software. So apparently just a couple software engineers at VW not only write software but also come up with "innovative" ideas on companies largest project, manage their largest vendor, perform project management meetings with that vendor, and receive/answer the physical mail. No wonder they they made "mistakes". Other than attending board meetings, those couple of engineers basically run the entire VW company!!

        • Re:Cultural? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Copid ( 137416 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @06:59PM (#50690303)
          Is this the one place where embedded automotive code has no traceability? Nobody knows who checked in the mods, who approved the changes, and whether that approval is traceable back to a defect/requirement/change request? Was I totally misunderstanding how the automotive industry handled its microcontroller firmware? It seems to me "Where did this code come from, who approved it, and what was the justification?" should be just about the easiest questions in the world for this type of engineering shop to answer. Maybe things could get sketchy when the manager who approved it points a finger at unwritten orders from his superior, but until that point, the paper trail should be completely clear. Right?

          Right?
      • As a Software Engineer... What possible motivation would they have had? Emissions isn't their problem. It's the Mechanical Engineer's problem. They should be getting requirements for the control interfaces from the Mechanical/Automotive Engineers.
        • It is very easy to get yourself into this situation as a software engineer. The other engineers don't ask you to cheat. This happens:

          1. Some engineer figures out that since "x" isn't working, they need a "test bypass" function to keep the program going forward. By itself, this is really common. The engine might be running on a test stand, and most of the car is missing. As such, the software has to have a "test bypass" function to deal with the missing gas peddle, brakes, transmission, etc.

          2. The progra

          • Except that in this case someone had to design in a toggle for it that somehow knew when it was being emissions tested. Also a standard part of any QA process or Software Safety Standard is that no test bypass-type code is left in the final product.
      • by uncqual ( 836337 )

        Managers should have been very suspicious how VW could get by without Urea Injection when competitors seemed to need it. Even if it wasn't an intentional "defeat" system, there should have been suspicion there was some sort of bug that needed fixing.

        It sounds like, at best, management was very happy to willfully ignore the maxim that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" hence management is certainly to blame for poor judgement (through many levels of management).

    • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @01:52PM (#50688079)

      I need to agree. Germans take a lot of pride in Engineering as a culture. To say the German Engineers took short cuts just to pass US tests seems more unlikely than a strict Wink-Wink-Nudge-Nundge from the Bosses to the engineers with the side effect of or-else.

      • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:10PM (#50688255)

        Which is how I have seen it done elsewhere. If your company follows the Jack Welch style "fire the bottom 10%" mandate, and you are the guy that refuses to stand up for things like principles, guess who is going to be related "below expectations"? It's not just speculation, this sort of thing really happens.

        Then someone gets in trouble, they blame someone irrelevant, "fix" the problem (that was discovered) and drive on. Meanwhile massive cheating, lying or intentional ignorance continues to happen on other things.

        • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @03:15PM (#50688737)

          Having been the guy who got made into the scapegoat and got a swift kick out the door, I can tell you this is true in some places. I didn't get fired, but they sure made it in my best interest to leave, ostensibly because I was set up to fail by the process and I failed to realize they really didn't want to fix the problem soon enough. Being true in some places does not make it universal. MOST places I've worked actually made it a point to accurately find and fix "problems" as they came up and didn't waste the time and effort necessary to find the scapegoat to blame in a sea of CYA documents.

          I suspect that VW just doesn't have the corporate culture of ethics over profit, at least at some level. What's happening now is they are in the midst of figuring out exactly what happened. Who did what, who authorized what and who can CYA the most effectively. Problem here is that *somebody* or a group of *somebodies* broke the law in a really big way and there is a real risk of being walked out of the building in handcuffs. This is when corporate lawyers start echoing the standard refrains of "Don't destroy any records", "where is your search warrant" and "don't talk to investigators or the press without a lawyer present" lines to everybody.

          Somebody is likely going to jail, or at least facing criminal charges in both the EU and the USA.... Expect there to be a lot of finger pointing from here on out.

          • Re:Cultural? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @05:37PM (#50689869)

            This is when corporate lawyers start echoing the standard refrains of "Don't destroy any records", "where is your search warrant" and "don't talk to investigators or the press without a lawyer present" lines to everybody.

            Somebody is likely going to jail, or at least facing criminal charges in both the EU and the USA.... Expect there to be a lot of finger pointing from here on out.

            I agree withe everything up to "don't talk to investigators or the press without a lawyer present." Never forget that a corporate lawyer doesn't represent you, he or she is their to protect the corporation and will throw you under the bus at the first opportunity. Anytime a lawyer is sent to "help" the first thing to ask is "Who you represent?" followed by "are you my lawyer?" and "is everything we say confidential and privileged?" if the answer to the last two isn't yes and yes they are not on your side.

      • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:39PM (#50688493) Journal

        I need to agree. Germans take a lot of pride in Engineering as a culture. To say the German Engineers took short cuts just to pass US tests seems more unlikely than a strict Wink-Wink-Nudge-Nundge from the Bosses to the engineers with the side effect of or-else.

        Completely agree. Not to mention that most engineers work to a functional specification. The software controlling what the emissions control computer reports is a pretty simple concept: pull readings from the on-board sensors and push them onto the output bus. Anything that deviates from that would need to have been driven explicitly by somebody. Code that detects emission testing equipment and conditions doesn't just get added by a couple of engineers on a whim.

        I'm sure that a program manager was given the EPA requirements and told "You must meet these (by any means)." That PM passed them on to the engineering team with clear instructions that the limits must be met, one way or another.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )

          The software controlling what the emissions control computer reports is a pretty simple concept: pull readings from the on-board sensors and push them onto the output bus. Anything that deviates from that would need to have been driven explicitly by somebody. Code that detects emission testing equipment and conditions doesn't just get added by a couple of engineers on a whim.

          It's possible (and likely) that engineering teams were given tasks to make things that would never be used in production. Team A told to optimize power, ignoring efficiency and emissions. Team B to optimize emissions, ignoring power and efficiency. Team C optimizing efficiency. The rationale is that you define the envelop, the maximums for each, with the hardware that's headed to production. Then in software you can tweak for markets (where the US is more strict on some things than Europe, and Europe m

          • I don't know why everyone isn't seeing what obviouslly really happened...

            The ECU had a number of pre-defined fuel maps... Then the Top Gear production office calls and says "We need a car in JeremyClarkson size. So someone in management calls down and says "Ja, Werner, please machen ein ECU ready fur TopGear bitte, mach schnell!" but it's friday night and Werner has a date with a couple of Medchen in Dirndle so he switches the fuel map, cranks out a .hex file, and then goes out for sexy-time with the ladie
    • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:04PM (#50688179)

      Actual the software was from Bosch. However, the Bosch guys said it would be illegal to use this specific feature. Looks like someone did not get the memo ;-)

    • Re:Cultural? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mhkohne ( 3854 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:05PM (#50688197) Homepage

      I believe the old saying 'A fish rots from the head' is applicable here.

    • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:33PM (#50688445) Homepage

      The link does not go to the article. Could somebody post the actual link?

      Here are some other sources:
      http://www.newser.com/story/21... [newser.com]
      http://www.theguardian.com/bus... [theguardian.com]
      http://www.npr.org/sections/th... [npr.org]

  • Uh huh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KermodeBear ( 738243 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @01:43PM (#50688001) Homepage

    Yeah, I'm sure, a few rogue software guys got together and said, "Gosh, how can we cover for the people who built the engine that isn't as efficient as it is supposed to be? Surely there's no legal ramifications for cheating on federal emissions tests!"

    It doesn't make sense on too many levels. What a bunch of crap.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      And this is what sociopath does; concocts elaborate, vile and usually illegal schemes, convinces a bunch of underlings to execute them, and then, when caught, tries to throw them under the bus.

      It's why sociopaths should be outlawed from all management positions of any kind, right down to crew shift chief at McDonald's.

      • My last boss was the best kind of sociopath. He once overheard some employees talking about how maybe someday his car would lose control and he would Paul Walker himself, so he started spying on them and pulled some emails where they made similar jokes and fired them.
        • Re:Uh huh. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by nytes ( 231372 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:52PM (#50688595) Homepage

          We had a president at our company who had monthly meetings with all the managers where they had doughnuts and just chatted.

          One meeting he asked everyone to be candid and say if they had any concerns about upper management or the direction of the company. The following week, everyone who spoke up at that meeting was fired.

      • Re:Uh huh. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:35PM (#50688459)
        Are you suggesting only hiring psychopaths as managers? If you eliminate both the sociopaths and the psychopaths, where are you going to find managers?
    • Re:Uh huh. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @01:48PM (#50688049)
      "Yeah, I'm sure, a few rogue software guys got together and said"...

      More like - "The beancounters won't let us add a few hundred Euro in hardware so we can pass emissions tests, and the boss promised us a large bonus if we can do it with software. Hey! I've got an idea."
      • "and the boss promised us a large bonus if we can do it with software, and he says "I don't want to know HOW you do it, just do it, lalalalalalalala"

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        To sell cars in the US VW had to pass the test.
        VW passed the test.
        I actually wonder if they did break any laws or regulations. They without a doubt broke the spirit of the law but...
        The simple truth is that the EPA probably has a regulation stating that the car can not have any special emissions testing modes that cause the care to perform in a way different than if driven under normal circumstances.
        It is possible that the engineers did not know the law but simply knew the test.

      • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:56PM (#50688605)

        and the boss promised us a large bonus if we can do it with software

        Now I know this is fanfic because no-where in any real company have I, as a software engineer, been promised a bonus for doing ANYTHING.

      • Re:Uh huh. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @03:18PM (#50688755)

        Actually, I think part of the problem is that either they didn't have enough space available for the extra emissions hardware needed to do it right (urea injection), or it would have driven the cost up too much. The cars this affects are their smallest cars, which don't have much extra space in the engine bay, and probably have a lower profit margin as well; on larger models like SUVs, this stuff probably isn't a problem.

    • by dargaud ( 518470 )
      Yeah. It's not complicated: get a dump of their SVN repository, list who inserted the modifications. Now they face jail serious time. Do they want to say who asked / authorized those modifications ? There you go.
    • It doesn't make sense on too many levels. What a bunch of crap.

      don't be ridiculous. they did it for the 8% pay increase at the end of the year.

    • by g01d4 ( 888748 )
      At best it's a fig leaf to cover management's criminal intent with (what for most people would be gross) incompetence. It can sometimes soften the blow depending on who your friends are.
    • Re:Uh huh. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bhv ( 178640 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:24PM (#50688367)

      Think a little bigger:

      "The two men, Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi’s chief engineer, and Wolfgang Hatz, developer of Porsche’s Formula One and Le Mans racing engines, were among the engineers suspended in the investigation of the emissions cheating scandal"

      I doubt these gents have been software engineers for a long time.

      Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/vw... [wsj.com]

    • Re:Uh huh. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @03:25PM (#50688811)

      It's not about efficiency, it's about emissions, which runs counter to efficiency. It's the whole problem with diesel engines to begin with: if you want better fuel economy, you have to increase combustion temperature. Doing so with diesel gives you higher NOx emissions. So you have to lower combustion temps to keep those down, but then you sacrifice mpg and also horsepower (both of which are very important to drivers for fairly obvious reasons).

      If the company could, they'd maximize fuel economy and power and ignore emissions, but that would give you huge NOx emissions, which causes serious smog problems (Paris has much worse smog than most American cities from what I hear, because of all the diesel engines).

      There really isn't a great solution to this it seems. Urea injection is supposed to help a lot though. But it seems like the best answer is to give up on diesel for small passenger vehicles and stick with gasoline or just move to EVs.

  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The-Ixian ( 168184 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @01:47PM (#50688031)

    That company executives rarely know what is going on in their organization.

    What do they get paid to do again?

    As an executive, you take on the responsibility and risk for your department/BU/company/team/whatever and the people under you. *That* is why you get the big bucks, not for any other reason.

    If somebody you are responsible for screws up, it is YOUR JOB to know about it!

  • Oh, bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @01:47PM (#50688033) Homepage

    Software engineers have little natural incentive to make the car perform differently for testing than for regular use. If the car is incapable of meeting emission standards without this sort of hack then that's an issue for the mechanical engineers, not the software guys. There's no reason to believe this was the result of anything but orders from on high.

    • Re:Oh, bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

      by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @03:02PM (#50688641)

      As a mechanical engineer this is pretty simple. The efficiency of an engine is related to the temperature difference. To get higher efficiency in a diesel you need higher compression. The problem is at high temperature you get NOx formation. There is nothing wrong with the mechanical design. They are near what is possible with thermodynamics. Im sure the ME's reported to the bosses if you want this efficiency and power you won't meet the emissions. Someone higher up made the call to cheat.

  • Bullshit ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @01:49PM (#50688059) Homepage

    Aren't there actual mechanical parts of the engine which simply weren't even implemented and then this kludge was done in software?

    You can't design this way of cheating without people who know the details of the engine signing off on it.

    This is so much bullshit it isn't funny.

    A software engineer could not have made the decision to leave off the components which were supposed to make clean diesel.

    This is purely about finding a scapegoat.

    • Re:Bullshit ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Doke ( 23992 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:04PM (#50688185) Homepage

      Yes. They omitted the diesel exhaust fluid (urea) injection system. I heard it saved about $400 per car.

  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @01:49PM (#50688061) Journal

    If they were really engineers they would be civilly and legally responsible and would have to carry malpractice insurance.

    • by deKernel ( 65640 )

      Do the professional societies actually recognize "software engineers"? The last time I looked into it, the professional engineering group for the state I lived in would not allow me to take the second test because they didn't consider time in software engineering as effective on-the-job experience.

  • Hardware blames software, etc.
  • When everything comes out, it will be unsurprising if you can't just re-use the conclusions of the Challenger investigation.

  • by Pseudonymous Powers ( 4097097 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @01:54PM (#50688107)

    Fritz: Hey, Hans, you know how we are both software engineers working for Volkswagen?

    Hans: What a strange question, Fritz. But yes, I suppose I do know that.

    Fritz: Well, I was thinking, these new U.S. emissions standards are actually pretty stringent, and I don't think our diesels can pass them.

    Hans: Yes, this is obvious. So?

    Fritz: Well, what if we changed the software so that, while the cars were being tested, they behaved in a completely uncharacteristic way so that they could appear to comply with the standard?

    Hans: You mean if we wrote a test-detection and -subversion routine into the car's firmware?

    Fritz: Yes, of course.

    Hans: But how would we personally stand to benefit from that?

    Fritz: Well, we'd be able to sell more cars in America that way.

    Hans: We? You mean Volkwagen. Sure, until they caught on. But Fritz, we're just engineers--we get paid the same either way.

    Fritz: Well, we could tell the executives about it later, and maybe they would reward us.

    Hans: No, trust me, the executives won't want to know about it.

    Fritz: Yes, they do certainly value integrity over the bottom line. Completely unlike an engineer. Oh well. I guess we'll just have to do it without telling them, and for no good reason at all.

    Hans: Yes, that sounds reasonable.

  • by uCallHimDrJ0NES ( 2546640 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:00PM (#50688151)

    First rule of leadership: Everything is your fault.

  • Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    As possible pointed out elsewhere, the collaboration between hardware and software is needed for such a scheme to work.
    Properly detecting the condition of being under test would definitely require collection from multiple hardware sensors.
    Also, didn't they perform the QA testing on such software? Doesn't this require testing units and a testing program to be agreed upon across departments?
    Or did they blindly put some untested software in control's of car's electronic and engine?

    It seems impossible to me tha

  • Yea Right. If someone found and 'undocumented feature' that allowed turning on the emissions cheat I could believe it was just the software developers. But this has a direct impact on the vehicle's performance that would have been caught by multiple levels of the organization. There are more heads to roll yet in this issue not the least of which is the software developers that didn't call foul when asked to code it it.

  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:05PM (#50688195) Journal
    Come on Volkswagen execs, you really expect us to believe that?
  • Do you want to work on iconic cars like the VW Bus? Design the next one, and then we'll throw you under the bus!

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:16PM (#50688313) Homepage
    If upper management is not aware that lower level employees are engaging in a massive fraud against their customers, than that means:

    1) Upper management are morons that have no idea what is going on in their company. It's the equivalent of a farmer claiming he had no idea that his 'organic' corn is actually bio-engineered and covered with Round-Up.

    2) That they personally are directly and legally responsible by failing to manage their employees. The buck stops at the BOSS, not the janitor.

    3) Are also committing the Wage-Theft by not doing their official declared job of MANAGING their employees.

    Claiming ignorance, stupidity, and incompetence is not a valid legal defense.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:20PM (#50688347) Journal

    I'm thinking there should be a new motto for corporations in late-period capitalism:

    "Nothing is True; Everything is Permitted."

  • The software engineers created and implemented a strong change management and tracking system where every line every bit of code change done by every engineer can be tracked years after the fact, with absolute certainity.

    The upper management has always created documents that are secret, which are lawyered to provide sufficient deniability to people who sign them, if they ever let it get to the level of signature. The whole culture built on "how can I grab as much money as possible" "how can do as little a

  • Bullocks. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SvnLyrBrto ( 62138 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:24PM (#50688375)

    This isn't some little project where one or two rogue engineers can throw a commit into github without oversight. We're talking about a major, multi-million dollar engineering project that spans both software and hardware, goes into a production run of many thousands of vehicles, and is regulated by many governmental bodies across multiple countries.

    At a minimum, you'd need the involvement of:

    The software engineers
    The hardware engineers
    The integration engineers
    The software QA testers
    The hardware QC testers
    The integration testers
    The production engineers
    The production QC testers
    Various compliance managers
    Whoever is submitting the test vehicles to the government testers in each country.
    The managers and supervisors of all of the above

    With that many people involved... and that's probably a conservative list... it's hard to believe that there wasn't some C-level approval or direction. Massive fraud in a major engineering project doesn't bubble up from one rogue employee or two. It's rolled from the top down.

  • by rwyoder ( 759998 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @02:28PM (#50688403)

    According to this article: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/... [yahoo.com]

  • May be the top honchos don't know much about the source control procedures. The software engineers can reconstruct the entire change history of how the device was created and implemented. The check-in comments, code comments, pull requests, merge authorizations are all there for ever indelible. The software engineers who are left holding the bag can turn around and finger everyone in their chain of command who knew it, who authorized it, who took care not to leave meeting notes etc.

    It should turn out to be a lesson for all top management who think they can throw the nerds under the bus. It should also turn out to be a good lesson for all software engineers to create a complete record of change history. Even if you get a oral order to implement something and the boss refuses to leave *any* paper record, and you are not really in any position to defy the boss, leave it in the source. Leave comments and pull-req messages saying "Adolf and Erwin asked me to make this change".

  • by hambone142 ( 2551854 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @03:25PM (#50688803)

    In my position as an engineer for one of the largest computer companies in the world, I would find this situation to be impossible.

    Yes, the "Board" wouldn't know about the software issue. However, any software engineers would report to a technical manager that would know what was going on. That manager would then report to a superior who would be given a synopsis of any issues. If something halts the release of a new product, it usually gets attention higher up the management chain for tracking and corrective action.

    Typically, most organizations like this would have a "code review" meeting where peers, with management present would walk through each line of code being written, checking for errors before releasing to production. Any revisions would also go through a similar review process.

    Changes would be documented so corrections wouldn't be omitted in the rewrite process. Each code revision code would have linked to it, the changes made for that particular code revision.

    So yes, "top management" wouldn't know of the code issues but *lower management* WOULD.

    Saying that a "couple of engineers" caused this situation is ludicrous.

  • Pressure from management, to do one of two things: 1) Deliberately cheat, 2) Demand what is only possible by Deliberately cheating.
  • by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @04:41PM (#50689477)

    Of course, it's the engineers fault for following orders.

  • by easyTree ( 1042254 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @04:54PM (#50689581)

    Hitler's ghost blames holocaust on single soldier.

    Sorry Mike.

  • by Murdoch5 ( 1563847 ) on Thursday October 08, 2015 @09:06PM (#50690809)
    Don't blame the managers, directors, marketers, or anyone else. Blame the people who have the least control over what they do, software development has become an industry of everyone else telling us how and what to do and we just get stuck with the work.

    Which is why I tell all my bosses that I control the code and that's all there is to it.
  • by Kohlrabi82 ( 1672654 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @12:35AM (#50691415)

    What's the point of having managers if they don't take responsibilty? My impression always was that upper management gets paid big bucks because their main job is to take responsibility for the company, in good AND bad times. It's bad enough that a lot of managers just leave like a whipped dog when the slightest problem arises, but not taking responsibility for your company's strategy and staff while in cahrge is another level.

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