Friendly Security at GSFC, Bathroom Monitors at HQ

Editor's update: A few weeks ago NASA PAO announced a new security policy effective 1 October 2006 whereby all media visiting NASA Headquarters would be required to have an escort at all times. This includes, as I have since learned, having someone from PAO stand outside the bathroom while you use it. The rationale given to me for this change was so that HQ security would be more in line with what is done at the field centers. Alas, if this is so, they have it totally backwards. I was at GSFC this morning and no one escorted me - anywhere.

Last week, in accordance with NASA's requirement to attend the NASA Advisory Council meeting at GSFC I submitted my name, date and place of birth by email. This morning I showed up at the main gate at GSFC 7:20 am. The guard found my name on a list, had me fill out a simple form (he did not care what kind of car I was driving) and handed me a badge. He was very courteous throughout. I then drove to the gate, a guard looked at my "One Day" visitor's badge (but did not look into my car), gave me a big smile, and I was in. No one escorted me. I could have gone anywhere. It was early, so I drove to Building 1 where the meeting was being held. I walked by dozens of people - including a large number in the cafeteria. No one looked at my badge or asked where my escort was.

One person did ask where I was going - but she did this because she was guarding the reserved parking for meeting attendees and there were only a limited number of reserved spaces.

Later, other reporters showed up and told me that even though they went to the same main gate that I went to - and that they actually saw their name on a list, they were told to go to the GSFC Visitor's Center where they got a special NAC meeting badge. Yet once they were inside the gate, like me, no one escorted them.

Throughout the morning everyone - including the center director - were pleasant and cordial. No one was following me around - and I only went where I was supposed to go.

I am not certain what NASA HQ Security and PAO are trying to accomplish by constant escorting of media around the building, but if they are trying to institute a policy similar to what NASA's field centers have in place, they haven't been paying much attention to how the centers actually do things.

Perhaps Dean Acosta and Dave Saleeba could actually visit a field center (in this case the closest one to their offices at HQ) and see the security process for themselves - and then model HQ's policy after what they see.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on October 12, 2006 11:58 AM.

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