Substitute Material Certification Report Leads to Big Problems
This story comes from another investigation recently conducted by the Ethics Office. The case involved an engineer who submitted a flight part to Quality Assurance for approval. QA rejected the part because the associated drawing was unreleased and there was no certification for the material from which the part was fabricated. An inspection report was created to document the discrepancy.
Over one year later the engineer submitted a released drawing and a material certification report for the part to QA. The engineer requested QA to retire the inspection report. However, while reviewing the material certification report, QA noticed that it was for a different type of material-a type that JPL had not even received until after the part was fabricated.
The engineer admitted that he had just picked up another certification to present. Later, he admitted that he did this because he could not locate the correct certification. He thought that if he submitted a certification for similar material it would solve the problem.
Being able to verify the type and quality of material used in flight hardware is important for those tasked with ensuring successful projects. As of this writing an open inspection report remains in place against the space-craft. The technical organization and the project office have been tasked with determining whether the part needs to be replaced. The engineer is no longer working at JPL.
Volume 6 Issue 1 - March 23, 2001