NASA PAO Is Hiring Another Political Appointee

Editor's update: As was reported last week, NASA is hiring yet another political appointee at the NASA HQ Public Affairs Office. Joe Pally, a former government PAO official, has now been formally hired. He has been given an email address [jpally at hq.nasa.gov] - with his position listed as "Public Affairs Specialist" and has an assignment: SOMD (not ESMD as was earlier reported).

Editor's note: The Orlando Sentinel was first to confirm - and expand upon - our original NASA Watch post on Friday.

Political appointee gets NASA media job, Orlando Sentinel

"The space agency confirmed Friday that Joe Pally, a former press officer with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, had accepted the job."

Editor's 19 Feb note: Joe Pally's position is reportedly handling press activities for ESMD. Pally is also a friend of current NASA Deputy Press Secretary Jason Sharp - Sharp is number 3 in the PAO management hierarchy and is also a White House political appointee. In 2003 Sharp was working at the White House as a staff assistant (scroll down list for other names and salaries).

Meanwhile, a quick Google search shows Joe Pally's name on a 7 February 2004 press release from the Office of Surface Mining a 22 April 2004 press release from the Coalition Provision Authority [Iraq] and a 14 February 2003 press release from the SBA (Small Business Administration).

This U.S. State Department press statement from 26 May 2004 shows an email address for Pally at U.S. Central Command (centcom.mil) and this 19 April 2004 news story from Jim Blasingame's website offers an audio file from "Joseph R. Pally Press Officer, Strategic Communications, CPA Baghdad" stating "Joe joins Jim from Iraq to give an update on the state of the Iraqi marketplace."

While Pally clearly has much more experience that George Deutsch in being a public affairs officer, his expertise in the scientific and technical areas NASA is concerned with on a daily basis is not evident. Then again this is nothing new: White House political picks Paul Morrell, Joe Davis, (who needed somewhere to go when former Energy Secretary Spencer Abrams left) and Dean Acosta had zero space-related experience as well when they showed up at their desk at NASA - and the space background of Dave Mould (also an Energy exile) is from decades past. Isn't there anyone out there job hunting - with a public affairs background - who also has a space science and technology background?

However, if Pally was actually stationed in Iraq (as would certainly seem to be the case) I must say that if ever there was an environment that qualifies you for a PAO position - i.e. urban warfare outside your office door - then Pally is certainly qualified for NASA PAO duty! Sometimes field experience (which one has to endure in real time) can trump technical expertise (which one can glean from books in a calm environment). Stay tuned.

Editor's original 17 Feb 12:42 pm note: NASA Watch has learned that NASA Headquarters Public Affairs is hiring yet another political appointee who will serve among the rank and file PAO officers - just like George Deutsch did. You'd think, after all of the controversy over the past few weeks, that PAO would have learned its lesson by now - and seek to recruit new staff from the real world. I guess not. Instead, they just can't say 'no' and continue to take in one political appointee after another - people who's prime qualification is having done a political favor for the White House - not knowledge of NASA and its programs.

What is even more odd is the fact that PAO - like many other parts of NASA HQ - is under pressure to reduce the number of civil service staff in its organization. In addition, according to Mike Griffin, an internal study is underway to look at how PAO should be working with agency scientists and researchers. You'd think that PAO would hold off on taking in new PAO staff until such time as that study was completed.

Editor's 17 Feb 7:02 pm update: The new PAO employee's name is Joe Pally (Palley) (sp) and he is currently employed elsewhere in the Federal government.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on February 26, 2006 10:17 AM.

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