NOAA Management Overhaul Changes Satellite Oversight

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The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plans to increase from two to four the number of presidentially appointed positions that must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, including a new post responsible for satellite development.

The new plan, outlined in an Oct. 8 memorandum to agency employees from NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, would create the new position of assistant secretary for environmental observation and prediction that would oversee a portfolio that includes satellite development.

“The Assistant Secretary will drive policy and program direction for weather and water, integrated mapping, and observing architecture, including satellites,” Lubchenco wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Space News.

Satellites are currently the domain of NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, directed by Mary Kicza, a nonpolitical appointee.

Lubchenco said the proposed management changes would permit her to take a “more active role in many of our high priority programs and objectives, including the [National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System],” she said.

In addition to Lubchenco, the other two positions that would now require Senate confirmation are the assistant secretary of conservation and management, and chief scientist.

Lubchenco’s plan still must be approved by the Congress.