Ispettore generale della NASA sotto inchiesta

Se fosse confermato (e per ora non lo è) si aprirebbero scenari inquietanti…

Se fosse vero questo tizio avrebbe anche sulla coscienza la morte di sette astronauti, la distruzione del Columbia e lo stop della costruzione della ISS per oltre tre anni!!! Un vero delinquente!!

La notizia come riportata dal New York Times

February 4, 2006
Investigator at NASA Faces Inquiry Over Safety

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 — NASA’s chief investigator is being investigated by a federal watchdog agency on charges that he retaliated against whistle-blowers and failed to look properly into safety and security issues at the space agency, officials said Friday.

NASA was notified by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency that its Integrity Committee was looking into the actions of the official, Robert W. Cobb, a former White House ethics lawyer who was appointed the agency’s inspector general in 2002.

The Washington Post reported Friday that in documents it had obtained and in interviews with current and former NASA employees, Mr. Cobb was accused of declining to investigate some security and safety issues taken to his office.

In an interview, Robert Mirelson, an agency spokesman, declined to comment further on the investigation, saying only that NASA management would “cooperate fully.”

Madeline Chulumovich, executive officer for the NASA inspector general’s office, said Mr. Cobb “is proud of, stands behind and is accountable for the work of the NASA office of inspector general.”

She read a statement saying the office had been dedicated to promoting an atmosphere where safety concerns were fully addressed and had done a significant number of audits and investigations.

Mr. Cobb declined to be interviewed, but said in an e-mail message sent to those in his office on Wednesday that the inspector general’s office at the Department of Housing and Urban Development had been assigned to look into the accusations on behalf of the President’s Council.

"According to the Integrity Committee’s letter, the allegations are that I ‘failed to investigate violations of safety concerns and retaliation by whistle-blowers,’ " he said in the e-mail message, first posted on the Web site. He went on to urge his staff to cooperate fully.

According to one complaint filed to the Integrity Committee by an employee within the inspector general’s office, Mr. Cobb chose not to pursue a 2002 theft of space shuttle information from computers at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama by someone living in another country.

When the person who removed the information shipped it to a third country, some staff members objected when Mr. Cobb declined to report the incident to the Commerce Department as an illegal transfer of intellectual property. When told that the data could be worth as much as $1.9 billion, Mr. Cobb “just looked straight ahead and kept silent,” the complaint shows.

Complaints about Mr. Cobb’s performance started coming last year into the office of Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, said Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for the senator. Mr. Nelson is known for his interest in NASA and space issues.

“Senator Nelson reviewed the matter,” Mr. McLaughlin said, “and determined some of the issues raised were serious and decided to forward what we had to the President’s Council on Integrity.”

In addition, The Post reported that some employees accused Mr. Cobb of bullying subordinates and penalizing investigators in his office who persisted in raising concerns he had dismissed. Former employees accused him of disregarding his office’s mandate to investigate waste, fraud and abuse, The Post reported.

The Post report said some former NASA employees and others felt Mr. Cobb was too friendly with former agency Administrator Sean O’Keefe and may have stopped investigations and suppressed audits to avoid embarrassing agency leadership.

Mr. O’Keefe, who is now chancellor of Louisiana State University, said in a telephone interview that his relationship with Mr. Cobb was “very professional and above board.”

“We established a working relationship in which we could find patterns of problems and attack them early,” Mr. O’Keefe said.