Federal Manager's Daily Report

An IG audit has found potential dangers to NASA employees in the way the agency purchases and stores materials which “can be toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive and, if poorly managed, can result in personal injury, property damage, or require costly clean-up.”

Auditors randomly sampled 100 items from each of four NASA centers’ inventory and found that the centers “did not accurately record all hazardous materials when delivered, stored, and consumed.” Across the four, between 10 and 25 of those items could not be located, and auditors also found instances of containers lacking labels or being stored in ways not meeting standards for hazardous materials.

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At one center “we found a storage room with chemicals on rusty and corroded metal shelving within a building that houses research laboratories. The severely corroded shelving resulted from leakage in an overhead water line.” At another, an outdoor hazardous waste holding facility “was not adequately protected from adverse weather and employees did not consistently monitor when waste was scheduled for disposal from the facility.”

The report also found instances in which NASA was not following its own policies regarding higher-level approval of purchases of hazardous materials; at one center, auditors identified 20 purchases of such materials, including three involving known carcinogens, on government purchase cards against the center’s policy.

“In our judgement, the agency’s management of hazardous materials is an institutional risk due to the health and safety risk to personnel, potential environmental contamination, regulatory requirements, and the agency’s responsibility for hazardous materials from acquisition through disposal,” it said.

It said that management concurred or partially concurred with its recommendations and that it considers them resolved pending proof of implementation.

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