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NASA Internal Memo: Message from the Administrator - October 24, 2007

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2007

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Message from the Administrator - October 24, 2007

Since becoming NASA administrator, I have been an advocate for openness and transparency in the pursuit of NASA research and analysis. As a general practice, NASA research and data should be widely available and subject to review and scrutiny.

I have been made aware that a request from the Associated Press for information from a NASA safety survey of airline pilots was withheld under the Freedom of Information Act. The request was for raw data and other aspects of the ongoing project. In a letter to the news organization, one of the several reasons for denying the request for the data cited concerns for "public confidence" and for the "commercial welfare" of air carriers. This rationale was based on case law, but I do not agree with the way it was written. I regret the impression that NASA was in any way trying to put commercial interests ahead of public safety. That was not and will never be the case.

We are reviewing this Freedom of Information Act request to determine what, if any, of the requested information may legally be made public. We should focus on how we can provide information to the public - not on how we can withhold it. Therefore, I have asked NASA's Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Research, Lisa Porter, to look into this situation, including ensuring that all survey data are preserved, and report to me as soon as possible.

Since NASA was created 50 years ago, the American people have witnessed the space program's triumphs as well as its tragedies -- usually on live television. In keeping with that spirit, we want to ensure that all our activities are as open to public scrutiny as our space flights.

Michael D. Griffin
Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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