A congressman with a key role in NASA oversight says he is investigating some whistleblowers’ complaints himself because he does not trust NASA Inspector General (IG) Robert Cobb with the job.
Rep. Brad Miller
(D-N.C.), chairman of the House Science and Technology subcommittee on investigations and oversight, said rather than give tips on possible violations at the agency to the inspector general, he has instructed his investigators
to tackle complaints
on their own
Miller, as well as Sen. Bill Nelson, (D-Fla.), chairman of the Senate S
ommittee, and Sen. Claire McCaskill
(D-Mo.), a former Missouri s
uditor, called for Cobb’s resignation in early June and asked U.S. President George W.
Bush to fire him. Cobb has said he will not resign.
The President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE),
an association of federal inspectors general,
in a January letter to Clay Johnson, deputy
management of the Office of Management and Budget,
Cobb retaliated against employees who questioned whether he had an inappropriately friendly relationship with
former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe.
determined IG Cobb engaged in an abuse of authority
,” the letter said. “The
[Integrity Committee] viewed this as more than an aggressive management style or a way of expressing dissatisfaction with employee performance but as arbitrary or capricious conduct, which affected the rights of senior employees to a nonhostile and abusive
Miller said Cobb cannot
fairly filter and investigate complaints within the agency
of his management technique and known close association with NASA officials.
“We’ve made it very clear,” Miller said late last month
. “We’re not going to ask Inspector General Cobb to conduct oversight.”
Cobb, a presidential appointee, will leave office in January 2009
. Until then, Miller said, his office plans to function without Cobb’s input.
“It’s pretty clear that for the next year and a half
there will, in effect, be no IG at NASA,” Miller
Officials with Miller’s office said since Cobb refused to resign they have started two
investigations that under normal circumstances would be given to the inspector general.
The subcommittee has five full-
. Typically, subcommittee investigations are conducted with the assistance of the agency inspector general or Government Accountability Office. Tips
not specifically related to subcommittee investigations
are typically handed over
to the IG or
ounsel of the agency in question
Cobb declined to comment on Miller’s actions
, but said his office of 80 investigators and 100 auditors
currently is involved in 275 cases and 28 audits
At a rare joint
hearing of the House Science and Technology Committee and the Senate Commerce C
three of Cobb’s former employees said he blocked investigations and created a contentious work environment through an excessive use of profanity and name-
Cobb said employees are reacting to his oversight of their work.
“The road to producing disciplined work at the high standard I demand has resulted in some discord,” Cobb said in
. “Some employees have not appreciated having their work tested inside the office to make sure it is founded in fact and law rather than personal opinion.”