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    SAB Expresses Concern over Economy's Impact on NOAA

    The Science Advisory Board of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration met on October 15-16 in Silver Spring, Maryland. The primary purpose of the meeting was to discuss "NOAA Transition to the Next Administration." In other words, how does NOAA best position itself in the new Presidential administration that will occur after the November 2008 election? Given the realities of the federal bureaucracy, this question largely translates into agency budgetary concerns. How can NOAA get the money it believes it needs from the new administration? The NOAA budget increased every year since 2001 under the Bush administration. Will the new administration be as friendly?

    Many members of the SAB expressed their concern that the current U.S economic troubles would work against NOAA's budget requests. Some members noted recent polls that showed that the economy was the majority public concern, while environmental issues have dropped off the list of significant public concerns.

    SAB members warned that the policy dimensions of the economic crisis may crowd out other issues. The massive fiscal commitments resulting from the economic crisis may transform federal policies in the budget context. NOAA issues may be overwhelmed by economic/budget issues unless NOAA pitches its mission right.

    There was general agreement that the right pitch included emphasis on the importance to the economy of NOAA activities like weather satellites.

    The concern about NOAA's image at the SAB meeting is consistent with the conclusions and recommendations of a recent SAB report entitled Engaging NOAA's Constituents: A Report from the NOAA science Advisory Board. This report concludes

      "that NOAA must dramatically change its way of doing business if it expects to engage and serve its consumers and clients. The Working Group believes that NOAA's return on investment to society is reduced because NOAA does not present an understandable vision to its clientele and does not systematically listen to and communicate with its partners and the public. In short, the public does not know NOAA."

  • Click here for NOAA's SAB website
  • Click here for SAB report on need to improve NOAA's public image

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