The PJ Tatler

Storm Intensifies Over NOAA's Failure to Turn Records Over to Congress

In the wake of travel and entertainment cost scandals such as the lavish parties of the General Services Administration, one agency continues to be tight-lipped to Congress about its expenditures.

The House Committee on Space, Science, and Technology subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight six months ago asked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for details on senior management travel.

So far, nothing.

“In light of revelations earlier this year of excessive and unnecessary travel by senior management at other agencies, in addition to allegations of similar incidents at NOAA, my inquiry was an effort to ensure that taxpayers’ funds were spent appropriately,” subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-Ga.) wrote to NOAA undersecretary Jane Lubchenco.

Broun said that in spite of multiple requests from the subcommittee to the agency, NOAA has not produced a single record or laid out a “reasonable schedule” in which to produce the documents.

“As a result, far from dispelling the Subcommittee’s concerns, your delay in responding to the Subcommittee’s request only amplifies them, and lends more credibility to the possibility that NOAA senior management engaged in unnecessary or inappropriate travel,” the chairman wrote.

Broun asked for the records by Nov. 2.

“Given that my original letter to you requesting this information was in the spring of this year, your staff has had ample time to pull together the records I requested,” he said.

The subcommittee’s original April request to Lubchenco followed a memo by the undersecretary to NOAA staff about the importance of ethical conduct and the value of rooting out waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.

“We’ve seen in our own and other agencies that such incidents — even when confined to one or a few individuals — can tarnish the image of an entire agency, undermine our mission, give the entire federal enterprise a black eye and negate the good we have accomplished,” Lubchenco wrote to employees.