Vitter, Inhofe Ask NASA Inspector General to Probe Possible Obstruction of FOIA Requests Seeking Climate Change Records

By Melanie Hunter-Omar | December 4, 2009 | 4:55 PM EST

( – Two ranking Republicans are calling on the inspector general of NASA to investigate the agency’s “apparent obstruction of Freedom of Information Act requests.”
Republicans on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works had written to NASA’s inspector general requesting “all documents and records related to the communications or other interactions with the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU).”
Afterwards, they became aware of “three separate FOIA requests made to NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The requests specifically ask for NASA’s “temperature record and agency emails concerning changes agency researchers made to the temperature record in 2007.”
“It is our understanding that these FOIA requests have been outstanding for two years,” Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Science and Space, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, wrote in a letter to Inspector General Paul Martin on Thursday.
“We request that you investigate the reasons for the delay in not responding by the statutory deadline. This review should include all the communications between the requester and any employee of NASA or its subsidiary organizations concerning the FOIA requests,” they wrote.
“If your Agency has administrative systems, e.g., tracking systems, for FOIA requests, please investigate why such systems failed to highlight or surface a delayed FOIA request and why internal controls have failed to ensure that statutory requirements for the FOIA requests were being met,” the senators wrote.