Volkswagen Chief Executive Matthias Müller, who in 2015 became CEO after the company was hit with a scandal for evading emissions standards, condemned the experiments as “unethical and revolting.” Stating they had nothing to do with scientific research, he added that “there are things that you just don’t do.”
Volkswagen claimed that poor decisions were made by a few negligent employees, who funded an independent car lobby group, EUGT, to conduct illegal experiments and that management had no knowledge of the experiments.
The fact remains, however, that this scandal was 100% preventable. VW outsourced the activity by paying an outside research group, which is a failure in vendor risk management. Operations can be outsourced to a vendor, but the ownership and accountability for the risk cannot be outsourced and belongs with VW, who funded the study.
The activities and funding were known by managers on the front lines and would have been uncovered and prevented through an enterprise risk management process.