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NASA LaRC Internal Memo: CD COMM # 2005-6 Safety Reporting

Status Report From: Langley Research Center
Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2005

To:  (All Employees at Langley Research Center)
From: "Roy D. Bridges, Jr." center-director@larc.nasa.gov
Subject: CD COMM # 2005-6 Safety Reporting
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2005 13:55:28 -0400

CD COMM # 2005-6
Safety Reporting
To:  All Civil Service and Contractor Employees at Langley Research Center

April 20, 2005

I wish to address the issue of "Fear of Reprisal" raised in the Daily Press article last Sunday with regard to the stand-down in our aviation organization in 2003.  While I am not going to rehash all of the events mentioned in the article, I want to let you know that we have strengthened organizational and safety valves at the Center and put new ones in place that can be used to identify safety concerns without fear of reprisal.  Some of these changes include: As a part of the Center reorganization, we have segregated flight operations from the flight research area and have put in place new organizational leadership.  This leadership, as well as the leadership of the rest of the Center, is accountable to me for successfully resolving safety issues.  Langley leaders are being coached how to seek dissenting opinions and maintain an atmosphere to constructively deal with challenges in a timely and effective manner.

In addition to the traditional method of reporting safety concerns through line management, employees now have available numerous avenues at the Center that can be used for safety reporting:  you can contact the Safety and Mission Assurance Office by dialing extension 4SAFE, or filling out either a paper or an electronic version of a Form 164 "Report of Safety/Health Concern."  You can contact a representative of the NASA Engineering and Safety Center; or you can contact the Center Ombuds, Vic Delnore, at extension 41812. All of these organizations are flexible and will receive anonymous reports.  If for some reason you are uncomfortable filing a safety/health concern locally, you may also submit a report to the NASA Safety Reporting System by filling out a paper form, available at various locations around the Center, or by filing electronically at http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/codeq/nsrs/index.htm. Finally, all employees may contact our local Occupational Safety and Health Administration Office at 441-3820.

For those involved directly in flight operations, you may also report safety concerns through the Aviation Safety Officer, Les Kagey, at extension 47816.  He is a member of the Center's Executive Safety Council and has direct access to me for all safety matters.

Using these supporting elements, we have already worked safety issues that have recently been raised regarding the Boeing 757 and proposed Aft Flight Deck (AFD).  We had a major AFD design review in December to address safety issues raised by employees.  Experts were brought in from around the country to support the review.  In all cases where issues have been raised, I have yet to hear about any instance of  reprisal arising from any concerns people have brought forth.  Let me say strongly, I take it as a matter of personal integrity that this Center will not take reprisal for those highlighting safety concerns.

With respect to the issues raised in the paper, while the events occurred before I arrived at the Center,  I personally met with all of those involved.  Clearly, some believe that reprisal occurred; however, independent reviews have not substantiated those allegations.  To protect the privacy of those individuals involved we cannot get into a detailed public review of all the facts surrounding this situation.  Ultimately, we cannot change the results of the events that occurred within our aviation organization.  It is time to move forward and become a better organization and better people.  We can't live in the past.  We must move to a better future while learning as much as we can from past actions.  At the same time I am dedicated to changing any real or perceived "Fear of Reprisal" atmosphere.

We will work these cultural issues together.  As you read this, preparations are underway to begin the next round of Behavioral Science Technology (BST) training at the Center.  BST training will focus on leaders and supervisors at all levels and will be followed with a second survey of Langley employees.  The ultimate goal of BST training is to improve our environment and support mechanisms to enable better communications, and foster a more open environment so organizational and safety concerns can be identified and resolved BEFORE they become issues and certainly BEFORE they become mishaps.

I am committed to continuing the progress we are making.  As human beings, we aren't perfect, but we are committed to reviewing all safety concerns and taking action to get at root causes as well as thoroughly investigating any allegations of reprisal.

In the meantime, if you have safety issues, we want you to use one of the channels mentioned in this CD COMM. Let us know about it so we have a chance to take action.  Reporting safety issues is not only a right, but an obligation of every employee.  While I encourage you to report safety issues through the supervisors and leaders of your organizations, any of the channels may be selected.  The actions taken will not always be popular or please everyone, but we will investigate and do our very best to make things safer.  I personally assure you no one will suffer reprisal for raising a safety issue.  I welcome communication both up and down the chain where people can speak freely.  I will continue to build this new culture within LaRC.

Cordially,

Roy D. Bridges, Jr.

// end //

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