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Highlights

The turmoil in financial markets and the economic downturn has brought significant financial stress to the auto manufacturing industry. The economic reach of the auto industry in the United States is broad, affecting autoworkers, auto suppliers, stock and bondholders, dealers, and certain states. To help stabilize the U.S. auto industry and avoid disruptions that could pose systemic risk to the nation's economy, in December 2008 the Department of the Treasury established the Automotive Industry Financing Program (AIFP) under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). From December 2008 through March 2009, Treasury has allocated about $36 billion to this program, including loans to Chrysler Holding LLC (Chrysler) and General Motors (GM). GAO has previously identified three principles to guide federal assistance to large firms: define the problem, determine the national interests and set goals and objectives, and protect the government's interests. As part of GAO's statutorily mandated responsibilities to provide timely oversight of TARP activities, this report discusses the (1) nature and purpose of assistance to the auto industry, (2) how the assistance addresses the three principles, and (3) important factors for Chrysler and GM to address in achieving long-term viability and the challenges that they face to become viable. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed Chrysler's and GM's restructuring plans and financial statements, as well as Treasury documents related to AIFP. GAO also reviewed the terms and conditions of the federal loans to identify risks to the government and compared these loan provisions to GAO's principles for providing federal financial assistance to large firms. In addition, GAO interviewed representatives of Chrysler, GM, Ford Motor Company (Ford) and the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), and officials from the Departments of the Treasury, Transportation, and Energy. GAO also conducted semistructured interviews with a panel of individuals identified by the National Academy of Sciences for their expertise in the fields of auto industry trends and data, labor relations, vehicle manufacturing, and corporate restructuring. GAO provided a draft of this report to the Departments of the Treasury, Transportation, and Energy for their review and comment. These agencies provided technical clarifications, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. GAO also made a draft of this report available to Chrysler and GM officials for their review and comment. Chrysler and GM officials provided technical corrections and clarifications, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. GAO is not making recommendations in this report.

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