NOAA Would Join Interior Under Obama’s Proposal

by

U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposal to move the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) out of the Commerce Department and into the Interior Department received an oblique mention Jan. 24 during his annual State of the Union address.

Obama did not mention NOAA or either of the Cabinet-level departments by name. But he did repeat his call, which he first issued during a Jan. 13 press conference focused on a proposed overhaul of the Commerce Department, for Congress to give him the authority to streamline the federal bureaucracy.

“The executive branch also needs to change. Too often, it’s inefficient, outdated and remote,” Obama said in his televised address, delivered to a joint session of Congress. “That’s why I’ve asked Congress to grant me the authority to consolidate the federal bureaucracy, so that our government is leaner, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people.”

Obama’s public comments to date have focused on merging the Commerce Department’s core business and trade components — including the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative — into a single agency. Other administration officials, however, have said that NOAA would move to Interior.

“Over half of the Commerce Department’s budget is actually NOAA, so NOAA would move to the Interior Department,” Jeffrey Zients, the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy director for management, said during a Jan. 13 White House press briefing.

About one-third of NOAA’s $4.9 billion budget for 2012 will go to the agency’s National Environmental Satellite Service, which funds the development and operation of the nation’s civil weather satellites.