July 19, 2011

JPL Closes Ombuds Office

Following the retirement of Lewis Redding, NASA's first Ombudsperson, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA has announced that it will shutter the Ombuds office indefinitely. The announcement came in an email to all JPL employees from Director Eugene L. Tattini:


July 18, 2011

TO: JPL Employees

FROM: Eugene L. Tattini

SUBJECT: Ombudsperson Role

Since the retirement of the JPL Ombudsperson, senior management has conducted a review of the role, responsibilities and level of activity of this office. Based on this review, we determined that the Laboratory has existing organizations in place, such as in Human Resources, the Employee Assistance Program, and the Ethics Office, through which employees can raise issues and concerns in a discreet and confidential manner. While we have decided not to fill this position at this time, we strongly encourage all of you to take full advantage of the service mentioned above should the need arise.
(Exclusive to the Ombuds Blog.)

Prior post: JPL Ombuds Will Retire.

Update 8/23/11 (tweet):  NASA Scientific Integrity Plan: lots of whistleblower refs, nothing about ten NASA ombuds offices. 1.usa.gov/mRDSpN


  1. Wrong. HR is not a confidential office. Hopefully those rocket scientists can see through this bad decision.

  2. That is disappointing that JPL took that course of action and failed to apparently understand that as much as those offices serve distinct purposes employees do not always reach out to those offices because those offices are formal, are offices of notice, or simply can't provide help in the most common of conflicts in the workplace involving respect, civility, conflict management, etc. If some employees don't trust those offices and don't have anywhere to turn internally they may turn externally for help. JPL just created a huge liability/risk.

  3. Very disappointing to see JPL choose this, especially when the other NASA sites do have ombuds available. It is well known that employees avoid HR for help with harassment issues so the problems will be ignored or fester.