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Investigations :: July 2, 2007

Oversight of the NASA Inspector General


In November 2006, the House Science and Technology Committee began work to obtain a report from the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) investigation of NASA’s Inspector General, Robert “Moose” Cobb (below, right). Members made the request after allegations of Cobb’s misconduct were made in November 2005.

NASA IG Robert "Moose" Cobb

Once the Science & Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight received the report on April 2, 2007, Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Subcommittee Chairman Brad Miller (D-NC) and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Aeronautics and Related Matters, called for Cobb’s removal.

Read their letter to the President»

The PCIE report found that Cobb abused his authority by creating a hostile work environment and appeared to lack independence in his relationships with top NASA officials, and in his review of staff’s work.  The Integrity Committee of the PCIE further felt that NASA Administrator Michael Griffin’s proposed course of action for Cobb was inadequate to address his conduct. The Committee “further believed that disciplinary action up to and including removal, could be appropriate."

Click image to read the complete PCIE report.

Read the complete PCIE report»

Cobb currently remains in office, but his position and the PCIE's findings are the subject of continued investigation by the Committee.

“Chairman Miller and Senator Nelson and I agree that NASA is poorly served by an Inspector General who is not perceived as being completely independent,” Gordon said. “If whistleblowers and the Inspector General’s own staff do not feel that they can trust him or work with him, he cannot possibly be effective. NASA and the nation deserve better.”

Subcommittee Joins Forces with Senate Colleagues on NASA IG Investigation Hearing

Subcommittee Chairman Miller questions witnesses.

Chairman Bart Gordon and Senator Bill Nelson (at left) listen as Subcommittee Chairman Brad Miller questions witnesses. 

(June 7, 2007) – Members of the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and Members of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Aeronautics and Related Sciences held a joint hearing to review the case against NASA Inspector General Robert “Moose” Cobb.

Cobb remains on the job after a six-month investigation by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) found that Cobb had abused his authority and exhibited the appearance of a lack of independence from NASA management.

Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), I&O Subcommittee Chair Brad Miller (D-NC), and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) called for Cobb’s resignation in April, after the Subcommittee reviewed the PCIE report.

“Mr. Cobb must leave,” said Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight. “He has two clients - NASA and the Congress. His office’s work is suspect and Congress doesn’t trust him anymore.”

Read more about the hearing» 

Subcommittee Investigates Destruction of Video Records by Senior NASA Officials During IG Probe

(May 24, 2007) - Members of the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight questioned senior staff at NASA about physically destroying records of a controversial meeting between NASA’s Administrator Michael Griffin and Office of the Inspector General staff.

Despite an assurance of independence, Mr. Griffin called an “all hands” meeting of the NASA IG staff on April 10, 2007. The purpose of the meeting was to dispute the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency’s (PCIE) findings that Robert Cobb, the Inspector General for NASA, had abused his authority.

At the staff meeting, Administrator Griffin told the OIG staff, which was the source of most of the allegations against Mr. Cobb, he didn’t believe Mr. Cobb had abused his office, lacked integrity or committed any “improprieties.” Mr. Griffin outlined his plan for management training for Mr. Cobb.

Michael Wholley, the NASA General Counsel, testified that he intentionally destroyed with his own hands DVDs showing his boss, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, meeting with the staff of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). He told Committee staff that he did it to prevent the DVDs from being obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Read more about the hearing»

On June 14, Miller and Subcommittee Ranking Member James F. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) called for a Department of Justice investigation into Wholley's actions.

Read the complete letter, and supporting documents, to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.


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