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Letter to the President on the Independence of the <em>Columbia</em> Accident Investigation Board

Feb 6, 2003
Science Committee letterhead image
February 6, 2003

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C.  20500

Dear Mr. President:

In the wake of the Shuttle Columbia tragedy, we agree with NASA's decision to promptly constitute both internal and external investigating teams.  The external team - known as the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (AIB) and chaired by Admiral Hal Gehman - has already begun its deliberations....

We would respectfully ask that the charter of the AIB be re-drafted to reflect a broad mandate encompassing contributory causes, management issues, and pressures on the system.  In addition, we would recommend that, to insure its complete independence, the AIB should report directly to you and to the Congress, and that the support staff for the Board should come from agencies other than NASA.  This is not meant in any way to demean the dedication and excellence of NASA's workforce, but to ensure, as President Reagan did 17 years ago, that the AIB would proceed in as unfettered and open a manner as possible.  Finally we would suggest that the membership of the AIB be expanded in a manner similar to that of the Rogers Commission, and that Administrator O'Keefe solicit suggestions for new members from key Members of Congress....

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108th Congress