Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that President Obama’s recent proposal to reorganize and streamline federal agencies includes a transfer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) to the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI).
“I would like to inform the public that this is the latest proposal for reorganization and streamlining of federal agencies proposed by the Obama Administration,” Faleomavaega stated.
“It is important to note, however, that Congress has the final word on any upcoming federal agency reorganization. At this point the President has asked Congress for the authorization to officially submit his proposal. If this authority is granted, the President’s proposal must then go up for a Congressional vote,” Faleomavaega added.
In a January 13, 2012 press conference, President Obama announced that there are several changes he would implement if Congress were to return to the President the authority to propose departmental reorganization and streamlining. This authority was first granted during the Great Depression to allow for immediate executive action and restructuring. However, Congress removed this Presidential authority in 1984 during the Reagan Administration.
According to the White House, the streamlined proposal is expected to save $3 billion and better serve businesses. Overall it would consolidate six federal agencies into a single department that focuses on business, trade, and economic growth, while eliminating redundancy and inefficiency. The core business and trade components of the DOC would be consolidated with five other agencies: Export-Import Bank, Office of U.S. Trade Representative, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Small Business Administration, and the Trade and Development Agency. However NOAA, which is more than 60% of the DOC’s $7.161 billion budget (FY 2012), would be transferred to the Department of Interior.
NOAA was formed in 1970 as a conglomeration of three of the oldest existing agencies in the federal governments: the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, formed in 1807; the Weather Bureau, formed in 1870; and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, formed in 1871. President Nixon placed NOAA in the Department of Commerce, apparently due to his frustration with his then Secretary of Interior. NOAA’s current activities fall into five broad categories: satellites, weather, fisheries, oceans and coasts, and scientific research.
“Considering American Samoa’s position in the Pacific and our reliance on the environment and especially the seas for our survival and economic vitality, NOAA’s services and programs have been significantly tied to our Territorial affairs,” Faleomavaega stated.
“I intend to keep the public informed of the latest developments regarding the potential restructuring of NOAA as this issue evolves. In speaking of NOAA, I also wish to remind the public that the comment period for the Fagatele Bay expansion proposal has been extended until March 9th,” Congressman Faleomavaega concluded.