The ESA Inspector General also oversees a special unit called the Engineering Knowledge Office.
Typically useful engineering knowledge gained in the space field is the outcome of sustained technical effort. The Office's main purpose is to ensure that such hard-won insights are not squandered but instead shared throughout the Agency as effectively as possible and that the best possible engineering practice is pursued.
Accordingly the Office is responsible for managing a number of ESA-wide knowledge management initiatives across multiple engineering disciplines. There are three main areas of activity:
- Ensuring that the Agency's internal Lessons Learned system reflects the important lessons learned through reviews, enquiry boards and informal contacts with project engineers. The Lessons Learned system is a database on the Agency's intranet where extracts from technical reviews are made accessible to other projects. All Lessons Learned, whether positive or negative, are included together with an explanation of their context of discovery and their likely applicability to future activities.
- Investigating significant technical problems with the use of engineering standards applicable in the Agency – most often, but not only, European Cooperation on Space Standardization (ECSS) standards – then taking action to resolve such problems. This includes representing ESA on the Technical Authority of the ECSS.
- Ensuring uniform practice within the Technical and Quality Management Directorate for sharing of technical information and associated processes, and providing a successful model for other Agency technical areas.