NASA Gets New Inspector General

NASA Gets New Inspector General

The just-released witness list for December 3rd’s House Science and Technology hearing on “Independent Audit of NASA” lists Acting NASA Inspector General (IG) Thomas Howard as one of the witnesses, but by then the new NASA IG should be on board — if only for a few days.

Paul Martin was confirmed by the Senate on Friday for his new post as NASA IG. The Blog of Legal Times reports that Martin said he is looking forward to the job and “has to get up to speed on all the space lingo” as he reports for duty on November 30. Martin has been deputy IG at the Justice Department.

Martin replaces Robert Cobb, whose controversial tenure included strongly negative reports about his conduct from the Integrity Committee of the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency in 2007 and about his office’s lack of effectiveness from the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) in 2008. Calls for his resignation — including from influential Members of Congress— went unheeded during the George W. Bush Administration, but Cobb finally left after President Obama took office.

Pursuant to the Inspector General Act of 1978, most government departments and agencies have IGs, who are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. They are independent of the department or agency to which they are assigned, reporting to the President. President Reagan drew attention to the IGs by firing all of them on his first day in office so he could replace them, according to his press secretary, James Brady, with people he knew to be “meaner than a junkyard dog.” The sobriquet remains to this day.

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