NASA flinches, gives Congress docs on Bush appointee's misconduct after subpoena threat
Congressional subpoenas were staved off yesterday by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, when a deal was brokered to turn over the results of an investigation into allegations of misconduct in the space agency's Office of the Inspector General, RAW STORY has learned.
The House Science and Technology Committee, which is now led by Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), announced yesterday afternoon that it was canceling a hearing of its Investigations and Oversight Committee scheduled for tomorrow. The hearing's subject was the drafting of subpoenas related to the investigation of the NASA Inspector General. The release noted that "In lieu of subpoenas, the Committee has reached an agreement with involved parties to receive the information sought."
A spokeswoman for the Science and Technology Committee told RAW STORY that shortly after April 2, the results of an investigation of the NASA Office of the Inspector General, along with the steps NASA intends to take in response to the investigation, are to be received by the Committee. NASA's Inspector General has been under investigation by both the President's Commission on Integrity and Efficiency and the inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The business meeting to take up the issuing of subpoenas was originally necessitated by an unwillingness by parties involved to turn over the findings of their investigation to Congress.
Little public information exists about the allegations of misconduct against the NASA Inspector General. In Feb. 2006, the Washington Post reported on claims that Inspector General Robert W. Cobb had failed to follow up on reported safety violations and had outed whistleblowers to their bosses.
The Post's Guy Gugliotta wrote that "Written complaints and supporting documents from at least 16 people have been given to investigators. They allege that Cobb, appointed by President Bush in 2002, suppressed investigations of wrongdoing within NASA, and abused and penalized his own investigators when they persisted in raising concerns."
Cobb was accused of quashing investigations related to a malfunctioning self-destruct procedure during a space shuttle launch at the Kennedy Space Center and the theft of an estimated $2.9 billion worth of data on rocket engines from NASA computers, the Post noted. Some former subordinates also made statements to the Post on the record, with one stating that he "created a hostile work environment."
Cobb became NASA's Inspector General in early 2002 after more than a year of working as an Associate Counsel to the President. He continues to serve in the post.
NASA did not answer requests for comment.