The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has said car manufacturer GM must pay $35 million over its fatal ignition switch defect. The automaker has said it will pay the fine after it failed to act with adequate speed, according to the DOT, in recalling vehicles that had the fatal switch, which reportedly has led to deaths.

It comes as part of an agreement GM has with the DOT over its "timeliness" inquiry into whether the auto company was forthright with its information and informed the government of the defect within five business days of discovery.

GM admits that it did not inform the government agency of the defect in the allotted time, and it also has agreed to deliver to the DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration "full access to the results of GM's internal investigation into this recall."

It reverses the company's previous statements that it would not be releasing to the DOT the full report.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in announcing the fine that "What GM did was break the law ... They failed to meet their public safety obligations."

No criminal charges have been filed against GM.

Likewise, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) David Friedman told reporters that GM employees ranging from engineers "all the way up through executives" knew of the defect and related information years before the recall of 2.6 million vehicles.

The recall has sparked a nationwide debate over the auto industry's record on safety and transparency. The stalwart pushing back against public pressure by GM had led many to question the company over its commitment to maintaining the safety of its customers and risking injuries and deaths by their slow response that led to the recall of the millions of autos.

Although GM has faced the brunt of the controversy, understandably, some American legislators have also put some of the blame on the NHTSA for not seeing the defect earlier.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut criticized NHTSA for failing to spot the defect earlier. "There is no question NHTSA bears part of the blame, a large part," he said.

The victims of the defect have not yet received any support from GM, although the company has said it is looking into how to compensate victims and their families.

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