A Periodic Federal Science Update

NOAA Appoints New Assistant Administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) – Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, with concurrence from the White House, named Chris Oliver Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. Mr. Oliver assumed his new position on June 19, taking the helm from Acting Assistant Administrator Samuel Rauch who will return to his position as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs.  As the agency’s new Assistant Administrator, Oliver will oversee the management and conservation of recreational and commercial fisheries including some aspects of marine aquaculture, the preservation and maintenance of safe sources of seafood, and the protection of marine mammals, marine protected species, and coastal fisheries habitat within the U.S. exclusive economic zone. He will also manage an agency with a strong presence nationally with 3,200 people in five regional offices, six science centers, and 24 labs and fish stations in 15 states and U.S. territories.

Mr. Oliver most recently served as Executive Director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, a position he held for the past 16 years. He has been with the Council since 1990, also serving as a fisheries biologist and then deputy director. During his tenure as executive director he led the way on several management initiatives, including development of limited access privilege programs and fishery cooperatives and catch share programs, the North Pacific’s comprehensive onboard observer program, numerous bycatch reduction programs, extensive habitat protection measures, commercial and recreational allocation programs, and coastal community development programs. He was also responsible for all administrative and operational aspects of the Council process, and lead staff member for legislative and international issues.

House Science Subcommittee Urges NOAA to Consider Increasing Privatization – On June 21, the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on the Environment held a hearing to highlight private sector advancement in various environmental technologies – including innovative monitoring, observing, and modelling technologies that support great understanding of the oceans and atmosphere.  Witnesses from the private sector, namely Dr. Neil Jacobs from Panasonic Avionics and Mr. Sebastien De Halleux from Salidrone, Inc., discussed various modelling and observing advancements made by their respective companies and how NOAA could take better advantage of the data and observing capabilities that could be provided by the private sector.  The Chairman of the Subcommittee, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and some of his other Members expressed concern that NOAA has been reluctant to engage with the private sector on such issues.  Chairman Biggs referenced he recently enacted Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act as a key step in encouraging NOAA to maximize the strengths of the private sector in terms of data, observing capabilities, and modelling.  Subcommittee Democrats noted that federal spending often provided the foundation upon which the private sector builds its products and services in terms of weather forecasting. More information on this hearing, including a video archive of the hearing can be found here.

National Science Foundation’s Move to Alexandria, VA Begins -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) is moving its headquarters to Alexandria, Virginia.  Email addresses and phone numbers for NSF employees and NSF offices will not change. Due to the move of NSF's Data Center, NSF.gov, FastLane and Research.gov will be unavailable from Friday, June 30 at 8:00 PM until Tuesday, July 4 at 6:00 PM EDT. During this outage period, proposals cannot be submitted in FastLane, and project reports and cash requests cannot be submitted in Research.gov. However, previously saved information and uploaded documents in FastLane and Research.gov, including in-process proposals and reports, will be accessible after the Data Center moves. The physical move to NSF's new headquarters will be phased over a six-week period, beginning Thursday, August 24 through Sunday, October 1.

Administration Asks for Comments on National Marine Sanctuaries System – The Administration has published in the Federal Register a request for comments on the designations and expansions that have taken place via Executive Order since 2007.  The public is being asked to comment on specific criteria related to these expansions and designations including: an analysis of the acreage affected and an analysis of the budgetary impacts of the costs of managing each National Marine Sanctuary or Marine National Monument designation or expansion; an analysis of the adequacy of any required Federal, State and tribal consultations conducted before the designations or expansions; and the opportunity costs associated with potential energy and mineral exploration and production from the Outer Continental Shelf, in addition to any impacts on production in the adjacent region.  Following up on this request for comments, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the marine sanctuaries system on June 27th at 10AM Eastern.  The hearing will be livestreamed here.

Food and Drug Administration Seeks Nominations to Public Advisory Committees – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requesting nominations for voting members to serve on the Device Good Manufacturing Practice Advisory Committee and device panels of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health.  Nominations received by August 22, 2017 will be given first consideration for membership on the committee and panels.  More information on this can be found here.

NOAA Seeks New Members for U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System Advisory Committee -- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is soliciting applications for membership on the United States Integrated Ocean Observing System Advisory Committee. The Committee provides advice to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and to the Interagency Ocean Observation Committee on the planning, integrated design, operation, maintenance, enhancement, and expansion of the United States Integrated Ocean Observing System (U.S. IOOS).  U.S. IOOS promotes research to develop, test, and deploy innovations and improvements in coastal and ocean observation technologies and modeling systems, addresses regional and national needs for ocean information, gathers data on key coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes variables and ensures timely and sustained dissemination and availability of these data for societal benefits. U.S. IOOS benefits national safety, the economy, and the environment through support for national defense, marine commerce and forecasting, navigation safety, weather, climate, energy siting and production, economic development, ecosystem-based management of marine and coastal areas, conservation of ocean and coastal resources and public safety. For more information on submitting an application for membership is available here.