Prepared Statement by Rep. Mark Udall - Hearing: Oversight Review of the Investigation of the NASA Inspector General


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Good afternoon. I will be brief in my remarks today. It is truly unfortunate that it is necessary for two congressional subcommittees to convene a joint hearing to examine allegations against the current NASA Inspector General. Over the almost thirty years since the Inspector General Act of 1978 was enacted, it has been the rule rather than the exception that Inspectors General have provided invaluable service to both the Executive and Legislative Branches through their independent audits and investigations.

However, those benefits will be realized only as long as Congress has complete confidence in the integrity and independence of each Inspector General. Without that trust, Congress cannot count on an Inspector General to carry out the independent oversight so vital to the effective operation of our government.

Today, NASA Inspector General Cobb will respond to the allegations made against him and to the findings in the Integrity Committee's report. It is appropriate for him to do so, and in his testimony he raises a number of concerns about the Integrity Committee/PCIE process that warrant scrutiny.

However, the reality is that the Chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, the Chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee's Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, and the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Space, Aeronautics, and Related Sciences have all lost confidence in Mr. Cobb--to the point that each one has asked that he be removed from his position as NASA IG.

Thus, I'm afraid that the necessary relationship of trust between the NASA IG and Congress has been irretrievably broken. As a result, I believe that it will be impossible for me in my capacity as Chairman of the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee to work effectively with Mr. Cobb in the future. That is unfortunate, but that is where things stand at this point.

At the end of the day, the position of NASA Inspector General is not an entitlement. Given Congress's loss of confidence in Mr. Cobb's ability to carry out his responsibilities effectively and independently, I believe that the Administration should try to find another place where Mr. Cobb can serve the nation. He should not remain as NASA Inspector General.

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