NASA v. FLRA, 527 U.S. 229, 13 (1999)

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Cite as: 527 U. S. 229 (1999)

Opinion of the Court

But those characteristics do not make NASA-OIG any less a representative of NASA when it investigates a NASA employee. That certain officials within an agency, based on their views of the agency's best interests or their own, might oppose an OIG investigation does not tell us whether the investigators are "representatives" of the agency during the course of their duties. As far as the IGA is concerned, NASA-OIG's investigators are employed by, act on behalf of, and operate for the benefit of NASA.

Furthermore, NASA and NASA-OIG overstate the inherent conflict between an OIG and its agency. The investigation in this case was initiated by NASA's OIG on the basis of information provided by the FBI, but nothing in the IGA indicates that, if the information had been supplied by the Administrator of NASA rather than the FBI, NASA-OIG would have had any lesser obligation to pursue an investigation. See 4(a)(1), (d), 7; S. Rep. No. 95-1071, p. 26 (1978). The statute does not suggest that one can determine whether the OIG personnel engaged in such an investigation are "representatives" of NASA based on the source of the information prompting an investigation. Therefore, it must be NASA's and NASA-OIG's position that even when an OIG conducts an investigation in response to a specific request from the head of an agency, an employee engaged in that assignment is not a "representative" of the agency within the meaning of 7114(a)(2)(B) of the FSLMRS. Such management-prompted investigations are not rare.6

6 See, e. g., United States INS, 46 F. L. R. A. 1210, 1226-1231 (1993), review den. sub nom. American Federation of Govt. Employees, AFL- CIO, Local 1917 v. FLRA, 22 F. 3d 1184 (CADC 1994); United States Dept. of Justice, INS, 46 F. L. R. A. 1526, 1549 (1993), review granted sub nom. United States Dept. of Justice v. FLRA, 39 F. 3d 361 (CADC 1994); Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Serv., 28 F. L. R. A. 1145, 1157-1159 (1987), enf'd sub nom. Defense Criminal Investigative Serv. v. FLRA, 855 F. 2d 93 (CA3 1988); see also Martin v. United States, 20 Cl. Ct. 738, 740-741 (1990).

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