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NASA JPL Internal Memo: Hold Order: NASA Inspector General Investigation of Censorship

Status Report From: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Posted: Thursday, December 14, 2006

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December 5, 2006

Subject: HOLD ORDER: NASA Inspector General Investigation of Censorship

Caltech recently was notified by NASA that the NASA Office of Inspector General, at congressional request, is conducting an investigation into allegations of censorship of scientific information at NASA. As a result, Caltech/JPL must retain any government documents related to the matters identified below. This email constitutes a "Hold Order" regarding these documents and is being sent to those individuals who we believe may have had dealings with NASA with respect to NASA practices or policies, past or current, affecting dissemination of scientific information to the public.

Any otherwise applicable procedures with regard to document destruction (and all related procedures) are suspended in connection with any of the following records, data, and/or information identified below. Documents covered by this email shall be removed immediately from any pending or future destruction process until further notice (including the removal from and retention of any relevant emails in "Deleted Items" or similar folders). This email is inclusive of all hard copy, electronic, and alternative media on which records, data, and/or information may be stored and also refers to all versions, drafts and copies in existence and in your possession.

All records referring or relating to NASA practices or policies, past or current, affecting dissemination of scientific information to the public and the media must be preserved. These records include:

  • All documents received from or sent to NASA referring or relating to the application of NASA practices or policies affecting dissemination of scientific information to the public in connection with any JPL activities;
  • All documents received from or sent to NASA reflecting or related to any complaints or allegations of wrongdoing regarding NASA practices or policies affecting dissemination of scientific information to the public in connection with any JPL activities; and
  • All documents received from or sent to NASA reflecting or related to the establishment or implementation of any NASA policy or practice with respect to the dissemination of scientific information to the public.

You are specifically instructed to:

1. Retain all records and information identified above, including draft versions of records and information (including materials containing notes or handwritten comments.) While not all of these records may be government records subject to disclosure, all described records should be preserved to avoid destruction of evidence.

2. Create a new email folder in your Personal Folders titled "Censorship Hold Order 2006," and move to that folder all sent or received emails (including deleted emails still residing in your system) and attachments relevant to the subject matters identified above to prevent against their inadvertent deletion.

3. All electronic documents pertaining to the subject identified above shall be copied to and retained in a separate folder labeled with Censorship Hold Order 2006.

In addition to preserving any responsive documents received or sent by the Caltech/JPL Chief Information Officer ("CIO"), the CIO shall take such steps as are deemed necessary to assist other individuals in preserving potentially relevant electronic records, including but not limited to preserving copies of individual emails, home directories, local drives, shared file servers or other locations where responsive documents are found to be located.

Electronic data preservation efforts do not relieve you of your duty to diligently comply with all elements of the hold order. Failure to do so may constitute destruction of evidence and/or destruction of Federal records. No employee will be subjected to retaliation for reporting a compliance concern in good faith or for good faith participation in any investigation or other proceeding related to such a report, even if Caltech/JPL ultimately concludes that there was no violation of any law or regulation.

If you need assistance in determining what is covered by this order, if you know of other Caltech/JPL employees who should receive this order, if you have compliance issues or if you have further questions or need assistance, please contact Victoria Stratman, Office of the General Counsel at 818-354-5712.

Distribution List

Charles Elachi
Dan McCleese
Tom Prince
Moustafa Chahine
Paul Dimotakis
Eric Antonsson
Pete Theisinger
Bill Langer
Blaine Baggett
Steve Kulczycki
Jim Rinaldi
Tom Renfro
Lani Debenedictis

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