Federal Relations

March 24, 2009

NOAA and OSTP Heads Confirmed by Senate, Agency Developing Spending Plans

On March 19th, the Senate confirmed John Holdren as Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Jane Lubchenco as Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Both nominations had been placed on hold. Some senators attempted to bring about changes in unrelated legislative issues by blocking the nominations. However, the legislative tactic was dropped and the nominations moved forward without much objection to the actual nominees.

On the same day, NOAA budget officials expressed gratitude for the FY09 increase in NOAA research funding. By the end of April, NOAA should have details on its website about FY09 programs and projects funded. NOAA officials also expressed concerns about the ability of Grants.gov to handle the surge in traffic related to Recovery Act funding, given that the system experiences difficulties under normal circumstances. The possibility exists that grantmaking agencies could temporarily go back to a paper submission process. NOAA revealed that the FY10 budget development process is taking place slowly, and that the release of the President’s budget request could be after May 1st. NOAA remains undecided on how it will use much of the funding provided in the Recovery Act, but expects to release details by mid-April.