Episode 32: Inside the Investigation

Sometimes the journey is as interesting as the destination.

That’s what our colleague at Scripps News, investigative reporter Mark Greenblatt, discovered as he pursued what he thought was a straightforward news story. Greenblatt got a tip: NASA was spending a boatload of money on first-class and business-class airfares.

That set Greenblatt off on a quest worthy of Camelot, through mazes of bureaucracy, mountains of Freedom of Information requests and dungeons of unreturned phone calls. We thought the story of the story said a lot about the government – and about trying to report on the government. So we debriefed him for this week’s podcast.

Semi-spoiler alert: Yes, NASA does spend millions on so-called “premium travel.” But there also is a deeper story about how the government as a whole does not know how much is spent on something as simple as premium travel, despite being ordered to keep track of it. And that raises the question: How does the government keep track of the really complicated stuff?

In case you missed them, here are the stories Greenblatt produced:

NASA spends millions to fly first and business class with little oversight

Some federal employees are flying high on taxpayers’ dime

And now another reminder: The launch of our new, multi-media DecodeDC blog is only a few weeks off. Sit tight. And tune in.

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