Late yesterday, the Senate confirmed Kathy Sullivan as undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. In this capacity, she will serve as the 10th administrator of NOAA. I was certainly delighted to hear that her confirmation process is now complete. This is a very positive event for all of us in the ocean and atmospheric community, and we should all look forward to continuing to work together for the benefit of NOAA and the community. I feel strongly that Kathy is the right person at the right time to lead NOAA. She has all the scientific, administrative and management experience and expertise to be successful. She also has strong decision making skills, a quality that is crucial not only for NOAA’s success, but for what we are all facing in this most difficult financial and political environment. We need more people with that capability in this town.
This week, the President unveiled his FY15 budget request. Given the budget deal struck with Congress in December, the spending caps on discretionary programs mean that most agencies, including science agencies, will have a tough time keeping up with inflation. The President did include a request for additional funding, including for science, in an opportunity, growth and security initiative (details below), but Congress is unlikely to agree to this additional spending without cuts in other programs. NSF will unveil the specifics of its budget request next week and NOAA will hold a briefing the following week, so we will share more details with you at that time. Congress will begin working on the appropriations process quickly. I can assure you that we will be strongly advocating for science to be a priority in this austere budget environment.
We are all busy gearing up for our annual Public Policy Forum and our Members and Board of Trustees Meeting next week. Each year, Ocean Leadership holds a day-long meeting on the Hill to facilitate ocean policy discussions. Our Public Policy Forum this year will take place next Wednesday, March 12 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:45 p.m. at the Reserves Officers Club. The topic of this event is “The Urban Ocean”, with speakers and panels focused on cities preparing for changing oceans; engineering implications of wind, water and waves; and managing increasing pollution. We are pleased that numerous Senators, Representatives, ocean scientists and city planners and managers will all be participating. I strongly encourage you to attend this event. It provides an opportunity for collaboration and discussion on subjects of high national importance. For more information and to register, click here.
I look forward to seeing many of you next week. It is starting to warm up, so enjoy the weekend!