The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a science-based agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. The NOAA monitors and researches the oceanic and atmospheric environments to provide information to the public, related industries, researchers, and government agencies. The NOAA forecasts changes in these environments to support economic productivity and assesses safe and cost-effective methods for related industries such as fisheries. The NOAA’s services extend into climate, commerce, transportation, weather, and water.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was formed in 1970 from three pre-existing agencies: the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (1807), the Weather Bureau (1870), and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries (1871). The NOAA, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, was part of a reorganization effort meant to coordinate and consolidate the scattered environmental activities into a rational administration. These efforts were the result of the 1966 Marine Resources and Engineering Development Act that created a commission to review the multiple marine activities. In 1969, the reorganization efforts extended to replace the Department of the Interior with the Department of Natural Resources, which was to include the new NOAA. This NOAA would combine activities from the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) from the Department of Commerce. Since the ESSA comprised a large part of the NOAA, Secretary of Commerce Maurice Stans consolidated the NOAA into the Department of Commerce temporarily to retain employees and budget allocations. Deliberations in the Executive led to the Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1970 that permanently moved the NOAA to the Department of Commerce.
It has also been reported that President Richard M. Nixon was personally responsible for placing the NOAA into the Department of Commerce instead of the Department of Interior, and that he did so out of revenge. Widespread protests against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was at a fever pitch at that time, and Secretary of Commerce Walter J. Hickel—two months prior to the NOAA placement—had publicly warned Nixon that he should be responsive to the antiwar movement. That didn’t sit well with the President, so he got back at Hickel by pulling the NOAA from Hickel’s Interior Department and placing it instead in the Department of Commerce, which was being run by Nixon colleague Maurice Stans. Stans was subsequently implicated and indicted (though eventually acquitted) for alleged financial misdeeds in the Watergate scandal that brought down the Nixon presidency.
Forty-two years later, in January 2012, President Barack Obama announced his intention to correct that mistake as part of his proposed reorganization of the Department of Commerce. If approved by Congress, the sweeping change would consolidate six agencies that are responsible for trade and economic competitiveness, and move the NOAA (which operates on 60% of Commerce’s budget) out of that department and, very likely, into the Department of the Interior.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Web site, its program responsibilities extend from the ocean to the atmosphere and include seven line offices and the NOAA Corps.
National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Services (NESDIS) - Acquires and manages the nations environment satellites, provides data and information, and performs related research.
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) - Acts as a steward of marine and coastal areas to preserve and manage living marine resources. The NMFS assesses fish stocks, enforces fishing regulations, and advocates for sustainable fishing methods to increase economic and recreational opportunities.
National Ocean Service (NOS) - Supports safe navigation, coastal communities and marine environments through information and products. It also mitigates coastal and ecosystem hazards.
National Weather Service (NWS) - Provides weather, hydrologic, and climate warnings and forecasts.
Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) - Operates specialized ships and aircrafts to carry out research missions for NOAA. The OMAO fleet is operated and managed by the NOAA Corps Officers along with civilian employees.
Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) - Provides research to help understand environmental phenomenon, develop new technologies, and provide information for consumers in business, conservation, and policy making.
Office of Program Planning and Integration (PPI) - Uses corporate management to effectively run NOAA’s many programs with stakeholders, domestic and international partners in regards to environmentalism. PPI involves strategic management, support for employees and performance evaluation.
From the Web Site of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spent nearly $10 billion on more than 137,000 contractor transactions between 2002 and 2012, according to USAspending.gov.
The following are the top five contractors during that period, including the amount each was paid and its percentage of total NOAA contract spending:
1. IBM Corporation $392,034,389 (4%)
2. Harris Corporation $371,466,214 (4%)
3. Raytheon Company $340,465,955 (3%)
4. SAIC, Inc. $333,557,943 (3%)
5. I.M. Systems Group, Inc. $221,205,696 (2%)
NOAA Studies Dolphin Deaths
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concluded in 2012 that the massive oil spill two years earlier contributed to the die-off of dozens of dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.
The NOAA study found many dolphins became seriously ill due to exposure to the crude oil that gushed from the broken BP well. The sickened mammals suffered weight loss, low blood sugar, and, in some cases, liver and lung cancers.
At least 90 dolphins were found dead in the gulf during 2010, and another 82 were discovered the following year. At least 30 of those that died in 2011 were newly born or stillborn calves.
Scientists Debate Cause Of Dolphin Deaths (by Leigh Coleman, Reuters)
BP Oil Disaster Prompts ‘Perfect Storm’ Behind Mass Dolphin Deaths, Study Finds (by Rebecca Leber, ThinkProgress)
Dolphin Deaths: BP Oil Spill May Have Contributed To High Mortality Rate, Study Finds (by Stephanie Pappas, Huffington Post)
NOAA Turns Down Kerry Request to Study Cod Stock
Despite fears of declining fish stocks, the NOAA rejected a written request from Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) in January 2012 to order another scientific survey of cod stocks in the Gulf of Maine.
Kerry’s request followed two conflicting studies, one showing cod populations in decline and another indicating just the opposite.
NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said there wasn’t enough time in 2012 to conduct another study before fishing season began in May.
Local fishermen have worried that the report showing a drop in fish stocks could result in government regulators closing down fishing grounds, which would jeopardize their jobs.
A few months later, emails from Kerry to his brother, Cameron Kerry, general counsel to the Department of Commerce, revealed the senator’s frustration with Lubchenco. The Democratic senator wrote the NOAA head “has failed” to convey to the fishing industry that she is doing everything possible to help it through increasingly hard times.
NOAA Turns Down Kerry Request For New Cod Study (by Don Cuddy, South Coast Today)
Kerry Email Shows Frustration With NOAA Leader (by Richard Gaines, Gloucester Times
Obama NOAA Science Chief Nominee Derailed
President Barack Obama nominated geochemist Scott Doney in 2011 to be chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Doney’s nomination, however, never was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and it was all because of one man.
Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) blocked Doney’s nomination from ever being voted on. The Louisiana Republican was angry at the Obama administration for imposing a moratorium on offshore drilling following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
After a year of waiting, the White House withdrew its nomination of Doney, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
White House Gives Up on NOAA Science Chief Nomination (by David Malakoff, Science Insider)
David Vitter Blocks Obama NOAA Nominee Over Offshore Drilling Halt (by Jim Abrams, Associated Press)
Climate Change Denial Taught in School
Similar to the blowback witnessed in schools over the teaching of evolution, the subject of climate change has prompted conservatives to demand that contrarian viewpoints be taught to students as well.
Frank Niepold, a climate education coordinator for the NOAA who meets with hundreds of teachers annually, told The Los Angeles Times in 2012: “Any time we have a meeting of 100 teachers, if you ask whether they’re running into pushback on teaching climate change, 50 will raise their hands.”
In recent years, lawmakers in Texas and Louisiana called for new education standards that required educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position. South Dakota and Utah approved resolutions denying climate change, while Tennessee and Oklahoma introduced bills authorizing climate change skeptics to speak their minds in the classroom.
In response to the pushback against climate change, the National Center for Science Education, a California-based watchdog group that supports the teaching of evolution, said it would begin monitoring the teaching of climate science and evaluate the sources of resistance to it.
Climate Change Skepticism Seeps Into Science Classrooms (by Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times)
Climate Change Debate Brewing in American Classrooms (by Sam Favate, Wall Street Journal)
Tsunami Warning Centers on GOP Hit List
Republicans in the U.S. House tried in 2011 to slash funding for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which alerts the U.S. of potentially deadly waves heading toward Hawaii and the West Coast.
The budget cut, which totaled $454 million and came only weeks before the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan, left officials with the NOAA, which runs the tsunami warning center, shaking their heads.
Observers said Republicans were unhappy with the NOAA over its research on climate change and wanted to get back at the agency. GOP leaders said it was simply a matter of finding ways to trim billions of dollars and reduce the budget deficit.
“Look, I think that all of us need to be tempered by the fact that we’ve got to stop spending money we don’t have,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) told the media. “I mean, essentially what you’re saying is, go borrow money from the Japanese so we can go and spend it there to help the Japanese.”
Following the earthquake that struck Japan, scientists at the tsunami warning center issued an international bulletin that helped the Japanese government order an evacuation of coastal areas, a move that may have saved thousands of additional lives from being lost during the disaster.
Tsunami Warning Center Submerged In Budget Debate (by Abby Leonard, PBS)
Fishing Regulations Create Controversy
The NOAA mandate to regulate coastal fishing came under scrutiny in 2011.
It started with the State of the Union address in January, when President Barack Obama joked about how two different federal agencies oversee fishing in the U.S.
In the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has jurisdiction over fishing in lakes, rivers, and streams. Meanwhile, the NOAA (in the Department of Commerce) manages fishing with 200 miles of the coastline.
For the NOAA, it has been a struggle to balance the interests of both environmentalists and fishermen. The agency is required to limit the amount of fish harvested each year in an effort to prevent stocks from becoming depleted, a task that often creates enemies within the industry.
In fact, the Commerce Department’s inspector general (IG) concluded in 2011 that NOAA’s fishing regulations were “unduly complicated.” The IG accused the agency of excessively fining fishermen for exceeding quotas by only small amounts, and not providing proper oversight of the money collected from such fines.
One Fish, Two Fish, Who Regulates You, Fish? (by Brian Palmer, Slate)
American Fishermen Caught in Net of Regulations (by Armen Keteyian, CBS Evening News)
NOAA Moves to Police Seas (by Traver Riggins, The Cutting Edge)
NOAA Weather Satellites Become Victims of Budget Cuts
Efforts to reduce the federal deficit have taken their toll on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) weather satellite program.
In August 2011, Congress slashed $140 million from NOAA’s overall budget and another $500 million for new satellite production. The reductions were part of a compromise reached with President Barack Obama to raise the debt ceiling before the U.S. Treasury ran out of money.
The cuts impacted plans to replace a critical north-south satellite. Those that operate on a north-south polar orbit enable scientists to predict severe storms five to 10 days before they impact a region. The satellites currently in use will cease to operate by 2016, and any gaps in NOAA funding could delay building and putting into space new satellites, perhaps delaying them from 2015 to 2017.
In 2012, lawmakers again debated reducing the NOAA’s budget as part of a larger deficit reduction scheme that was supposed to be crafted before the end of the year. In this instance, the reduction would have trimmed $182 million from the satellite program. In this age of the Weather Channel and AccuWeather and more, why is this important? Because even those other outlets get their weather data for making forecasts from the NOAA.
Budget Cuts May Ground NOAA Weather Satellite Program (by John Nelander, Palm Beach Daily News)
States May Lose Ability to Predict, Prepare for Bad Weather (by Elizabeth Daigneau, Governing)
US Government in Massive New Global Warming Scandal - NOAA Disgraced (by John O'Sullivan, Examiner.com)
Satellitegate Update by John O’Sullivan (CO2 Insanity)
Weather Alerts Are Imperiled, NOAA Warns (Hillary Rosner, New York Times)
Weather Satellites And Storm Warnings Threatened By Federal Budget Cuts (by Lynne Peeples, Huffington Post)
Senate Panel Shifts NOAA Satellite Funding to NASA (by Mark Whittington, Yahoo! Contributor Network)
In late 2009, critics of climate change seized upon the release of more than a thousand emails from scientists at the NOAA that purportedly showed they had manipulated data to prove global warming existed. The emails were stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain.
Conservatives and Republican lawmakers blasted the NOAA in what became known as “climategate.” Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate environment committee, ordered an investigation of the emails and the NOAA. Inhofe had called global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”
In 2011, the Department of Commerce’s inspector general’s office concluded its probe and found no evidence that NOAA climate scientists had manipulated data.
The investigation echoed the findings of other probes also exonerated the scientists of any misconduct. No fewer than six official bodies, along with several media outlets, including Pennsylvania State University, the InterAcademy Council, the National Research Council, and the British House of Commons, came to the same conclusion: nothing in the emails pointed to the NOAA cooking the facts about global warming.
GOP Inquiry Finds No Evidence That ‘Climategate’ Scientists Misused Data (by Sahil Kapur, The Raw Story)
Debunking Misinformation About Stolen Climate Emails in the "Climategate" Manufactured Controversy (Union of Concerned Scientists)
NOAA: Past Decade Warmest on Record According to Scientists in 48 Countries (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Scientists Are Cleared of Misuse of Data (by Leslie Kaufman, New York Times)
Aggressive Monk Seal Euthanizing Controversy
Scientists from the NOAA were criticized in 2011 for planning to euthanize a monk seal accused of attacking seal pups off the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
The NOAA said a large male seal, identified as KE18, was blamed for killing at least three pups. Experts felt compelled to do something because the monk seal is an endangered species, and they did not want to risk KE18 going after more infant seals.
Under the Marine Mammal and Endangered Species acts, NOAA had only three options for solving the problem: transfer KE18 to another natural habitat, move him to a captive facility, or euthanize him.
The agency decided to hunt down the seal. But before they could locate him, KE18 left the area for Midway Island. By the following year, NOAA scientists found the wayward seal. But by then the agency decided to not kill him, but to study him to find the reason for his aggressive behavior. He wound up in the Waikiki Aquarium temporarily, and from there would be sent to UC Santa Cruz to be studied, and likely end up at Sea Life Park near Honolulu thereafter.
Why NOAA Considered Euthanizing Aggressive Monk Seal (by Teri Okita, Hawaii News Now)
Aggressive Monk Seal Gets New Lease on Life (by Michael Bradbury, Real Science)
Humpback Whale Sanctuary Proposed Expansion
Twenty years after its creation, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary became the focus of debate over its proposed expansion.
The NOAA, which maintains the sanctuary along with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, recommended in 2010 including other species in the sanctuary.
The management-plan review suggested adding monk seals, spinner dolphins, and five species of sea turtles to the protected area. It also proposed including maritime-heritage resources, such as historic sunken ships and planes.
Some local residents opposed the expansion plan, calling it an infringement on Hawaiian laws and culture by imposing user restrictions in the coastal waters.
Proposed Expansion Of Whale Sanctuary Draws Controversy (Léo Azambuja, The Garden Island)
Expansion Of Humpback Whale Sanctuary Focus Is Recommended (Associated Press)
Kauai Testimony Ballot Regarding Hawaii Humpback Whale Sanctuary Proposed Expansion (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
NOAA Report on How Much and Where the Oil Went after the BP Spill
Scientists blasted the NOAA in August 2010 for issuing a report that seemed to downplay the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The report said most of the estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil that leaked from the broken undersea well could be accounted for. It also said much of the oil had dissipated and the rest was highly diluted.
University scientists as well as residents living along the Gulf Coast took exception to the NOAA’s conclusions, fearing the Obama administration was trying to minimize the impact of the disaster. And some experts questioned the findings and methodology of the report.
“A lot of this is based on modeling and extrapolation and very generous assumptions,” Samantha Joye, a marine scientist at the University of Georgia who led some of the most important research on the Deepwater Horizon spill, told The New York Times. “If an academic scientist put something like this out there, it would get torpedoed into a billion pieces.”
The NOAA report followed another controversy that erupted shortly after the oil platform exploded and sank into the ocean. In those early days of the disaster, the NOAA said the broken well was releasing only 5,000 barrels of oil a day—a total that was later discredited and ridiculed. The amount was closer to 53,000 barrels per day.
In November 2010, the NOAA released another report that backed up the agency’s claims in its August study. NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said her agency proved to be pretty accurate with its findings.
Oil Spill Calculations Stir Debate on Damage (by Justin Gillis and Leslie Kaufman, New York Times)
Report: Controversial NOAA Oil Spill Estimates Accurate (by Laura Parker, AOL News)
NOAA Claims Scientists Reviewed Controversial Report; The Scientists Say Otherwise (by Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post)
NOAA Approves Post-BP-Spill Seafood Products
Eight months after the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the NOAA approved the sale of seafood products from the Gulf of Mexico.
The NOAA joined with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in announcing that it was okay for consumers to eat fish harvested from the same waters that had been fouled from the March oil spill.
Federal scientists said their testing showed the waters and sea life in the Gulf posed no health risks. Many independent observers expressed doubts about the NOAA’s and FDA’s conclusion.
Critics said the government’s findings ignored the risks posed by chemicals—particularly dispersants—used in the cleanup that can be highly toxic to humans.
Dispersant Scrutiny Mirrors Larger Debate Over U.S. Chemical Control Policy (by Charles Franklin, Environmental Law Institute)
Obama Proposal to Move NOAA out of Department of Commerce
As part of his government-streamlining proposal, President Barack Obama proposed in 2012 to move the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) from the Department of Commerce to the Department of the Interior.
Washington insiders have long questioned the sense of having the NOAA within the Commerce Department, making it something of a fish out of water. After all, the NOAA is a scientific and fisheries agency surrounded by Commerce agencies dedicated to promoting U.S. trade and economic development.
The NOAA was created in 1970 by President Richard Nixon, who considered putting the agency in the Interior Department. But Nixon became unhappy with his Secretary of the Interior, Walter Hickel, who criticized the administration’s policy on the Vietnam War. So Nixon stuck NOAA in Commerce, where it has remained ever since.
Many environmental groups opposed moving NOAA to Interior, claiming the agency’s scientific integrity might become compromised by Interior’s industry friendly attitude at times.
The reorganization plan did not move forward in Congress, as Republicans were loathe to give Obama any political accomplishments in an election year.
NOAA’s Proposed Move Raises Questions About Its Role (by Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post)
What Obama’s Government Reform Proposal Means for Our Oceans (by Michael Conathan, Science Progress)
Obama Wants Power to Merge 6 Trade Agencies (by Kevin Spak, Newser)
Obama, Nixon and NOAA (by David Helvarg, Huffington Post)
Why NOAA Is in the Commerce Department (by Jeffrey Mervis, Science Insider)
White House proposes moving NOAA to Department of Interior (by Jason Samenow, Washington Post)
Reforms for NOAA Law Enforcement System
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced in March 2011 that he would allow fishermen and businesses until May to submit complaints about potentially excessive enforcement penalties by the NOAA.
The decision followed the appointment of a Special Master to review NOAA penalties, which were found to be inconsistent and arbitrary, especially in the northeast.
Locke then announced in May that $649,527 in fisheries enforcement penalties would be returned to 11 individuals or businesses after an independent review of their cases concluded the NOAA enforcement program had in some instances “overstepped the bounds of propriety and fairness.”
In the wake of the controversy, the NOAA said it had centralized and increased control of its funds, made enforcement of laws more consistent with nationwide standards, and transferred the burden of proof of wrongdoing from fishermen to enforcement officials.
Commerce Secretary Announces Additional Reforms to Overhaul NOAA’s Law Enforcement System (Department of Commerce)
Employment Shakeups At NOAA’s Troubled Office Of Law Enforcement (by Scott Alexander Meiner, Americans for Forfeiture Reform)
Oceans Chief Details Enforcement Reforms (by Jay Lindsay, Associated Press)
Regulatory Report: NOAA’s Enforcement Practices (Institute for Policy Integrity)
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Orders Fishery Enforcement Penalties Returned To 11 Fishermen And Businesses; Accepts All Of The Special Master's Recommendations In His Authority (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
With the NOAA taking the lead, the Obama administration revived the idea of creating a national aquaculture policy, something that was first discussed in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton.
An aquaculture policy, according to the NOAA, would attempt to propagate and rear aquatic marine organisms or environments for any commercial, recreational, or public purpose off the coast of the United States.
In July 2011, the NOAA unveiled a new aquaculture initiative that was intended to meet the growing demand for seafood, while creating jobs and restoring healthy ecosystems.
As part of this initiative, NOAA promised to work with the private sector, academia, other government offices, and communities “to advance technology, monitor performance indicators, and showcase best practices and market-based standards,” according to an NOAA press release.
NOAA Launches Aquaculture Plan, Economic Incentives (by Richard Gaines, Gloucester Times)
NOAA Announces Aquaculture Initiative To Enable Domestic Seafood Production And Create Jobs In Coastal Communities (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
NOAA Fishing Reform Efforts
The NOAA announced in 2009 that it was increasing efforts to expand new rules intended to cut down on overfishing by commercial fishermen.
The NOAA utilized a new approach that imposed a strict overall catch limit and divided that total catch among individuals such as fishermen, communities, cooperatives, or companies.
Studies showed that when fishermen no longer are in competition with each other, they earn more money by fishing less while doing a better job of conserving, reported the Associated Press.
While announcing its new efforts, the NOAA also conceded it would be unable to fully meet congressional deadlines to end overfishing by 2010 for unhealthy stocks, and 2011 on all stocks in U.S. ocean waters. Nonetheless, in 2012 the NOAA was able to announce that in 2011, six kinds of fish were successfully repopulated, bringing the number brought back to healthy levels since 2000 to 27 types.
Former Commercial Fisherman Named Compliance Assistance Liaison To Continue Outreach To Industry In Northeast (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Creation of an NOAA Climate Service
With global warming a growing public policy debate, the NOAA proposed in 2009 that it create a National Climate Service to help communities adapt to changes in weather and climate by announcing in advance such things as drought conditions, flood outlooks, and sea-levels rising that would jeopardize coastal communities.
But the proposal created divisions within the NOAA and sparked opposition from Republicans in Congress.
Richard Hirn, a lawyer for the union that represents National Weather Service employees argued before a House subcommittee that a new weather service was unnecessary “because it would duplicate the historic and current mission, programs and services of the National Weather Service [NWS] and will inevitably result in a reduction of resources for the NWS.”
Instead, it was suggested that the NWS mission be expanded, creating the National Weather and Climate Service.
But Eric Barron, director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and chairman of an NOAA advisory panel on options for a climate service, rejected the idea of adding climate to the weather service. Barron claimed the country needed an office solely devoted to climate service work.
House Republican leaders expressed their own concerns, saying a new climate service would compromise science for the sake of politics.
In the end, the GOP refused to approve the idea, even though the NOAA said it could create the new office without the need for extra budget funding.
A Climate Service in NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Policy Update: House Committee Debates NOAA’s Plans to Create Climate Service (Lewis-Burke Associates LLC)
National Climate Service Proposal Sparks Intra-Agency Debate (by Sara Goodman, E&E)
Budget Battle Torpedoes NOAA Climate Service (by Michael Conathan, ThinkProgress)
Jane Lubchenco, one of the nation’s most prominent marine biologists, has devoted much of her career to encouraging scientists to become more engaged in public policy debates, and is a vocal proponent of curbing greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.) was appointed Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator on December 19, 2001, and resigned effective October 31, 2008. Lautenbacher graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1964 and is now a retired Vice Admiral, having served 40 years in the navy. He received an M.S. and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in applied mathematics. Lautenbacher started his own consulting business and primarily worked with Technology, Strategies & Alliances Inc., which services government defense and security agencies. He was also president and CEO of the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education. As NOAA Administrator, Lautenbacher has headed many international government summits and conferences, such as the U.N. Framework for Climate Change, World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa (2002), World Meteorological Organization, Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ocean Ministerial Meetings (2002, 2005), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, and he led the first Earth Observation Summit (2003), culminating in an agreement on the implementation of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems.