NOAA Chief Resigns; Funding Cut, Except To Party Planners

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The Federal Government has cut $700,000 from the NOAA's budget for hurricane research and instead, decided to spend more than $4 Million on advertising hawking the 200th anniversary of the NOAA. The Director and Deputy Director of the government's weather service have resigned in disgust.

Seriously... what is this administration going to do next? Shut down all the VA hospitals and instead launch an ad campaign promoting the 250th anniversary of soldiers being buried?

One day after its hurricane forecasters complained of budget cuts, the head of the National Weather Service and his deputy announced they will retire next month.

David Johnson, the director, and John Jones, the deputy director, plan to bow out at the end of June, according to an internal memo they sent Friday to staff of the nation's weather agency.

On Thursday, the AP reported that the director of the Miami-based National Hurricane Center, which is part of the weather service, believes the government is wasting millions of dollars on advertising while shortchanging his hurricane forecasters' budget.

Bill Proenza, the center's director, said in an interview that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the parent of the weather service, is spending up to $4 million to publicize its 200th anniversary while cutting $700,000 for hurricane research. A NOAA spokesman said the agency plans to spend $1.5 million.

The day after that report, the weather service's top two officials, Johnson and Jones, announced their resignations to staff, but did not mention Proenza's criticisms.

Johnson has been head of the weather service since 2004 and formerly was a brigadier general in the Air Force. He told co-workers that the agency faces many challenges but his job has been "a superbly fulfilling opportunity."

NOAA came under fire this week from Bill Proenza, the hurricane center's director, for its multimillion-dollar promotional efforts and its plan to diminish the name recognition and possibly absorb the budgets of the weather service, the hurricane center and other component agencies.

Many forecasters and representatives of their union and the 3,000-member International Association of Emergency Managers expressed support Friday for Proenza.

''The National Weather Service is critical to the safety and welfare of local communities,'' said Larry Gispert, the IAEM's first vice president and Hillsborough County's emergency manager. ``IAEM urges Congress to stop this nonsense and direct money into programs crucial to saving lives during weather-related events.''


Over the past week public comments from the new director of the National Hurricane Center criticizing plans to rename his center and accusing his parent agency of wasting millions of dollars on a public relations campaign while cutting vital research funding, were followed by the unexpected departure of two top weather service officials. Now following these public accusations and earlier reports that the new budget contains no money for research flights, NOAA has confirmed that it is cutting funding to the famous 'Hurricane Hunters' based in Tampa, FL.

From the St. Petersbug Times:

Federal officials plan to significantly reduce the number of "hurricane hunter" flights from Tampa's MacDill Air Force base this year, even though predictions call for a busy hurricane season.

Crews will fly fewer hours because some of their missions can be combined for efficiency, said Philip Kenul of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For example, some reconnaissance flights in which pilots aim directly into the eye of a storm can be combined with other flights aimed at research purposes. That way, the crews can accomplish two goals with one flight, he said.

Safety will not be compromised, Kenul said.

"We're just trying to be a little bit smarter about the way we spend federal dollars, " he said.

But Kenul's comments came only days after the new director of the National Hurricane Center, Bill Proenza, criticized the NOAA for failing to put enough money into research programs and equipment.

Dan Sobien, president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, said Friday he would like to know more about the reduction in hours.

NOAA recently has been making moves to renamed the weather service and other daughter agencies with the prefix "NOAA ..." leading to the new names "NOAA Weather Service," "NOAA Hurricane Center," etc. NOAA claims that the renaming plan is a positive way to further unity amongst its daughter agencies and promote NOAA's role is weather forecasting activities. However, not everyone seems happy with the plan and this is not the first time the proposal has been put forth.

After the success and publicity that the hurricane center and weather service gathered following Katrina in 2005, NOAA executives ordered the hurricane center to remove all NWS logos on their products and replace them with NOAA logos. Then director of the hurricane center, Max Mayfield, refused to do so amidst controversy within the government. After a House appropriations subcommittee chair contacted the Department of Commerce, NOAA's parent agency, the proposal was withdrawn. The committee stated that "these changes are unnecessary and that renaming could lead to confusion among users of long standing programs and services with substantial name recognition."

The proposal from NOAA to role the weather service and its budget into the greater NOAA appropirations has lit off a shower of email protests within the meteorological community. Protests are also focused around comments made by Bill Proenza, Director of the National Hurricane Center, claiming NOAA is spending $4 million on bicentential celebration at the same time that is has cut $700,000 from hurricane research. Others within the weather community are pointing out that President Bush's proposed budget leaves no funding for hurricane research flights.

Details - Why the hell isn't mainstream media picking this one up???

Complain to the NOAA now


NOAA bull shit
Posted by highhood on 2007-08-01 21:49:32
Well where to start, this one was just the tip of the ice burg so to speak. I have worked for the Department of Commerces [NOAA} about six years as a wage mariner the guys that run the ships [not to be confused with the noaa corps don't ask long story that will piss you off] and am at my wits end . Every year it is the same old shit of budget short falls and blatant lies, things will get better we are some how going to make it up to you. Nothing ever happens and we are the first ones to feel the budget cuts. We as wage marines and merchant mariners are the least paid and over worked in the DOC we sail 200 plus days a year, that's straight days guys. We collect this so called scientific data to better revolutionise the world, don't get me wrong some of it is great but some of it is, how exactly did you get funding to do that [lets just say half the scientist here create there own jobs on the tax payers dollar] but enough on that. The ship I am on right now had to take moneys out of the general maintenance fund just to fuel the ship [not sure if that one is legal don't think it is] ships have been being laid up on the pier, with no money to sail. I ask my self every day how they can throw a multi million dollar [that's with out the thousand they are paying on travel and posh hotels] party for there self's, because lets face it, that's what it is really is a BIG party for the corps no one on the ships have seen shit from it, just a stupid little magazine and maybe some one got lucky and had a pic put up on a web sight woo hooo go noaa happy 200th thanks for supporting the wage mariner all these years good on ya. Well I will stop my rant now, but I will say this if you are aggravated with a mass misappropriation of government funds, the blatant lies, deceit and well bs look on the inter net it is all there in plain writing, well we are dealing with DOC read bettwen the lines and you will find it.


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