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.