NASA is refusing to release records of any investigations into their astronauts.
The secrecy of the U.S. space agency has reemerged as an issue after the international news coverage of a possible crime committed on the International Space Station by Astronaut Anne McClain. McClain was accused of hacking her wife’s banking information during a nasty custody fight.
Dolcefino Consulting requested five years of completed investigative reports in a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act.
The NASA Office of Inspector General says in their mission statement that they, “independently report to the Administrator, Congress, and the public,” and that the Office of Investigations, “investigates allegations of crime, cyber-crime, fraud, abuse or misconduct having an impact on NASA programs, personnel and resources.”
In a letter dated November 8, 2019, James Ives, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations denied our request for any completed investigations to protect the “privacy interest of third parties.”
“This agency is given tens of billions of dollars from taxpayers every year and that makes them accountable to the public, period,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “The OIG’s job is not to protect NASA from scandal, but to protect the public.”
NASA has not been immune from scandal. In 2007, Astronaut Lisa Nowak was arrested in Florida and charged with attempted kidnapping, burglary with assault and battery.
The fight between Summer Worden and Astronaut Anne McClain became national news this year. McClain dropped her attempt to gain rights for a child that was born before the couple met, but Judge Dunson has refused to sign the order ending the dispute.
It has been more than a month since Judge Dunson got a simple order to sign and she has refused. “We think the judge is abusing the power of her office to punish Summer for speaking out about decisions in that court,” says Dolcefino. “Summer is having to fight courthouse retaliation and NASA secrecy at the same time and that is outrageous for this mother.”
The OIG has failed to disclose the status of the McClain investigation. The media has described the allegations against her as the first possible crime in space.
“If the OIG tries to hide the results of its work, we may be forced to go to federal court to let the sunshine in,” says Dolcefino.