WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is calling for answers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) after a report she requested found problems with the agency’s whistleblower protection process.
“If we don’t protect whistleblowers against retaliation, they won’t come forward to identify waste, fraud, and abuse,” McCaskill said. “The same agency that has propelled the hopes and dreams of generations of Americans into space can surely do a better job of protecting those blowing the whistle on internal problems.”
The Government Accountability Office recently released a report that identified numerous issues with NASA’s whistleblower review process, including that it has not fully implemented provisions from McCaskill’s whistleblower protection bill that was signed into law in 2013. McCaskill requested the report after hearing anecdotally about these issues from whistleblowers at NASA.
The report found that NASA failed to review retaliation complaints within the required 30-day window, has no standard process for the Administrator to review cases, and has no specific guidance on how to communicate whistleblower protections to grantees. McCaskill wrote to NASA Acting Administrator Robert M. Lightfoot, Jr. asking what steps NASA is taking to address these problems.
Since her days as Missouri’s State Auditor, McCaskill has long focused her efforts on protecting whistleblowers and weeding out the waste, fraud, and abuse they uncover. McCaskill recently demanded answers from the Department of Energy after receiving documents from a whistleblower that appear to show that the government reimbursed over $24 million to a contractor for costs related to whistleblower litigation. In December, McCaskill called for answers from the Department of Veterans Affairs over how it was responding to reports of whistleblower retaliation in the agency. During her first term in the Senate, McCaskill successfully called for the resignation of the NASA Inspector General following reports of ineffective audit records, retaliation against whistleblowers, and other inappropriate actions.
Read McCaskill’s letter to the NASA Acting Administrator HERE.