(Washington, DC) – Science & Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) today released a letter to the President calling for the removal of Robert Cobb as inspector general of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Aeronautics and Related Matters both signed the letter. 

The action resulted from a report from the Integrity Committee of the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) that found Mr. Cobb had abused his authority by creating a hostile work environment and had created the appearance of a lack of independence in his relationships with top NASA officials and in his review of his staff’s work.

“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.”

“It is our position that Mr. Cobb must be removed for the good of NASA and the nation,” Rep. Miller and Sen. Nelson wrote in their letter.  “The Record of Investigation demonstrated that the office environment has seriously deteriorated and is affecting the staff’s ability to conduct audits and investigations for fear of verbal abuse and ridicule.”  The Integrity Committee documented several incidents in which Mr. Cobb used profanity, threats and intimidation against his staff.

Additionally, there were also numerous incidents that, as a group, were sufficient to create an appearance of a lack of independence from NASA officials by Mr. Cobb.  The Committee found that in these interactions, Mr. Cobb had not met the benchmarks for IG performance.

“Without both an appearance of and actual independence, neither his staff nor NASA employees will be able to trust Mr. Cobb.  Trust is an essential element for any IG because he will not receive information if the perception is that he cannot be trusted,” Rep. Miller and Sen. Nelson said.

“We’ve been trying to get answers regarding this investigation since November,” Chairman Gordon said in promising to keep up the pressure. “If change for the better doesn’t come soon, the Committee will take further steps to see that the NASA IG’s office is put back on the right track.”