Congress

Not-so-joint hearing?

With some fanfare earlier this week, the House Science and Technology Committee’s investigations subcommittee and the Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee announced a joint hearing for next Wednesday afternoon regarding the actions of, and investigation into, NASA inspector general Robert Cobb. While the hearing is listed as a joint one on the Senate Commerce Committee’s calendar, it’s no longer on the House calendar. Instead, there’s now a hearing titled “The NASA Administrator’s Speech to Office of Inspector General Staff, the Subsequent Destruction of Video Records, and Associated Matters” on the schedule for Thursday, May 24. Having been in meetings all day yesterday (and again today), I haven’t been able to learn more about whether the joint hearing is, indeed, now a Senate-only affair, and whether this was a strategic move to hold separate hearings on the distinct but related issues, or if something else triggered the move.

4 comments to Not-so-joint hearing?

  • D. Messier

    Cobb brought a lot of this on himself with his own behavior, which is completely unacceptable in the workplace. Still, if this was seen as an isolated incident, Congress would probably have let NASA handle it internally. But, this is seen as indicative of the way the administration has run agencies in general and handles oversight in general. The Democrats seem intent on exercising oversight that the president and the previous repub Congress failed to do.

    Mr. Anon is probably right in stating that this is one of the lesser problems that NASA is facing. Unfortunately, Congress probably can’t solve those larger problems. NASA has to find a more affordable architecture and Bush needs to step up to the plate with a sufficient budget. Bush launched an overly ambitious program, implemented it in a very expensive way, and hasn’t given NASA near the amount of resources it needs. This is his iniitiative and he needs to find a way out.

    When was the last time Bush actually mentioned this program publicly?
    What do you suppose the reaction would be if he did? He’s an immensely unpopular lame duck. He has very little credibility. He’s spent a fortune on an unnecessary war that he ran incompetently. He’s run up a massive debt. He’s reluctant to spend more on fundamental things like securing our food supply. Meanwhile, gas prices are up and the effects are rippling through the economy (food prices are up about 5.5 percent in California). Bush gets out and starts talking about spending billions more on lunar bases and the reaction will probably not be real good.

  • Tom

    Bush gets out and starts talking about spending billions more on lunar bases and the reaction will probably not be real good.

    And that’s the very reason why we won’t hear anything more about this. The only ones who will discuss this are politicians with NASA constituents in their districts, and even then, they are treading the topic lightly.

    I’m afraid that the only thing we’ll see from VSE is a lame shuttle replacement. I would even wager that priority shifts in the next year or two will push initial operations to the 2020 timeframe, unless of course an EELV launch option is adopted soon.

  • I agree with D. Messier. The best thing Mr. Bush can do for the space program right now is keep his mouth shut. The second best thing would be to cough up more money, or make some difficult decisions behind the scenes. Neither of those are going to happen, so keeping quiet is the best we can hope for. . . .

    — Donald

  • anonymous

    “Unfortunately, Congress probably can’t solve those larger problems.”

    Yes and no. There’s a lot that even lowly Congressional (and White House) staffers could do to force NASA to revisit ESAS and examine (or have independent groups examine) alternatives to Ares I/Orion/Ares V, and to set decision criteria (e.g., performance/mass targets for Ares I/Orion) for future funding gates.

    Not to get off-topic, but the same tools that Congress is using to reign in the Bush Administration on Iraq, including both independent studies/reviews/commissions (like the Baker/Hamilton Commission) and setting criteria for releasing or approving tranches of funding (like the upcoming September review on Iraq), could easily be applied to NASA/Griffin/Constellation.

    Unfortunately, Congress is off chasing potty-mouthed IGs, funding lunar robotic offices with nothing to do, creating duplicative legislation for prize advertising, calling workforce hearings that they themselves don’t attend, and making demands for space “summits” that are never followed through on.

    Quite the waste of taxpayer dollars and votes. Sad. Really sad.

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