Washington, D.C. – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released a report critical of NASA’s handling of sensitive information. The report found that weaknesses in NASA’s export control policy and implementation of foreign national access procedures at some centers “increase the risk of unauthorized access to export-controlled technologies.”

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “NASA continues to struggle with the protection of sensitive information. Our science and technology agencies, including NASA, are frequently targeted by other nations, criminals and cyber vandals.  If NASA continues to treat sensitive information so casually, our nation’s prized aerospace technology could end up in the wrong hands.”  

Last year the Science Committee learned of inappropriate access granted to a foreign national at NASA’s Langley Research Center.  And earlier this year, the National Academy of Public Administration called into question NASA’s efforts to control foreign national access.  NASA’s Inspector General has also issued a report critical of the agency’s handling of sensitive information at the Ames Research Center.   

The GAO report states that the NASA officials responsible for protecting sensitive information “lack a comprehensive inventory of the types and location of export-controlled technologies.” It also criticizes NASA officials for failing to implement recommended policies in a timely fashion.  Further, without timeframes to monitor corrective actions, GAO said it will be difficult for NASA to ensure that these actions will be effective.

The report was requested by House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Subcommittee on Oversight Chairman Paul Broun (R-Ga.).