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Key Lawmakers Cancel Hearing; Administration To Supply NASA IG Materials

By | March 12, 2007

      Just a day before a congressional subcommittee was to meet and possibly issue subpoenas in a NASA Inspector General controversy, the lawmakers’ session was canceled because the Bush administration agreed to give the panel documents it sought.

      Otherwise, the House Science and Technology Committee investigations and oversight subcommittee was slated to consider issuing a subpoena for the materials.

      The issue centers on allegations that the NASA IG, Robert Cobb, engaged in improper conduct that was exposed in part by news reports.

      His alleged actions included changing conclusions in IG reports at the request of the agency, derailing investigations and reducing safety audits

      Rep. Brad Miller, (D-N.C.), the subcommittee chairman, announced the meeting was canceled.

      He said the panel reached agreement with the President’s Commission on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) to provide the subcommittee with a requested report on Cobb, with the material to be handed over by April 2.

      According to the panel, since November 2006, the House Science and Technology Committee attempted to obtain a report and briefing on the PCIE’s investigation of the NASA IG after allegations of misconduct by the inspector general were made in November 2005.

      Career employees in his own office raised questions about Cobb’s independence as an investigator, accusing him of lunching, drinking, playing golf and traveling with former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe, another White House appointee.

      “If these allegations are true, this has crippled the effectiveness of the Inspector General in ways that could contribute to not only more waste, fraud and abuse but also impact the safety of the human space flight program,” Miller said. “It is critical that this investigation be completed immediately, and that the Committee obtains the requested documents to see whether additional actions need to be taken.”

      Both goals were achieved under the agreement with the committee that was outlined in a letter from Clay Johnson, PCIE chairman, after pressure from the subcommittee succeeded in forcing the PCIE to commit to a rapid conclusion to the case.

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