Today, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) expressed disappointment and threatened Congressional hearings over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) failure to provide key information requested by Congress two months ago today. On October 16, 2009, Cantwell sent a letter to Department of Commerce and NOAA requesting that NOAA provide information pertinent to its decision to move its Marine Operations Center-Pacific (MOC-P) location from Puget Sound to Newport, Oregon. Among the requests made were for NOAA to provide: information on how the move impacts NOAA’s employees; information on how NOAA might cope with the difficulties of locating its research ships a significant distance from the agency’s scientists; and information on the indirect and long-term costs of moving NOAA’s fleet to Newport. Cantwell is chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, which has primary oversight authority over NOAA.
“Throughout this entire ordeal, NOAA has claimed their process was fair and transparent,” Cantwell said. “But the GAO’s ruling against NOAA earlier this month showed that NOAA’s process was not fair, and now NOAA’s failure to submit critical documents requested by Congress shows that the agency is being anything but transparent. We already know from the GAO’s findings that there were major problems with the Marine Operations Center-Pacific long-term lease competition, but NOAA’s unwillingness to answer basic questions makes me concerned there may be even bigger problems that haven’t yet come to light. If moving NOAA’s ships is truly the right decision for NOAA, then they shouldn’t have anything to hide.”