A bipartisan group of leaders of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee are waving the red flag at the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration's plan to "streamline" its management processes by barring representatives of government watchdogs.
The unusual flap began earlier this year when NOAA executives closed meetings of the agency's Performance Management Council to representatives of the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Commerce Inspector General.
That didn't sit well at all with committee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-TX, or the panel's ranking minority member, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-TX. Rep. Paul Broun, R-GA, who chairs the subcommittee on oversight and its ranking minority member, Rep. Dan Laffei, D-NY, weren't thrilled with NOAA's action, either.
The reason is the committee had specifically directed GAO and the Commerce IG to sit in on the meetings for nearly a decade to assist with oversight of NOAA's management of the Joint Polar Satellite System and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system. That meant NOAA's action appeared to be an intentional snub of Congress.
So, the four committee leaders fired off a letter today to Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA's deputy administrator, "asking" that the GAO and IG representatives be readmitted to the meetings, along with this observation:
"Kicking watchdog representatives out of management meetings flies in the face of transparency and is counter-productive to getting these valuable programs back on track."
The full letter can be read here.