Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere

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United States
Under Secretary of Commerce
for Oceans and Atmosphere
Seal of the United States Department of Commerce.svg
Richard W. Spinrad, NOAA Administrator 2.jpg
Incumbent
Rick Spinrad
since June 22, 2021
FormationOctober 3, 1970
First holderRobert M. White
Websitewww.noaa.gov

The under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, or USC(OA), is a high-ranking official in the United States Department of Commerce and the principal advisor to the United States secretary of commerce on the environmental and scientific activities of the department. The under secretary is dual hatted as the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the Commerce Department.

The under secretary is appointed by the president of the United States with the consent of the United States Senate to serve at the pleasure of the president. The current under secretary is Rick Spinrad. He was nominated by Joe Biden on April 22, 2021, confirmed on June 17th and sworn in on June 22, 2021.[1]

Overview[edit]

As the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Under Secretary oversees the day-to-day functions of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as laying out its strategic and operational future.[2]

Components of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that the Administrator oversees include the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Ocean Service, National Weather Service, Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, Marine and Aviation Operations, and the NOAA Corps.[2]

With the rank of Under Secretary, the USC(OA) is a Level III position within the Executive Schedule[3] Since January 2010, the annual rate of pay for Level III is $165,300.[4] The Under Secretary ranks fifth in the line of succession for the office of Secretary of Commerce.[5]

History[edit]

The position of Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere was created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries Program Authorization Act of 1985. The position was created to serve as the Administrator of NOAA. It also created an Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere to serve as Deputy Administrator of NOAA.[6] William Evans was the first person to have the title of Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. The position of Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was created earlier by the Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1970.[7]

During the Donald Trump administration, the agency never had a confirmed leader. Trump first nominated former AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers to serve as Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere on Oct 12, 2017. His nomination was returned to President Trump by the Senate on January 3, 2018,[8] resubmitted on January 8, 2018 returned again on January 3, 2019,[9] and resubmitted again on January 16, 2019.[10] In November 2019, Myers withdrew his nomination, citing health concerns.[11] A month later, Trump nominated Neil Jacobs, then the acting administrator, to be the 11th administrator.[12] Though Jacobs had Senate confirmation hearings in May 2020, he was never confirmed, in part because of the so-called Sharpiegate incident.

Reporting officials[edit]

Officials reporting to the USC(OA)/Administrator include:

Officeholders[edit]

From 1970 to 1988, the head of NOAA was the NOAA Administrator. Starting with Bill Evans in 1988, that person held the title of Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.

  Denotes an Acting Administrator of NOAA
No. Portrait Name Took office Left office Tenure President
serving under
1 Robert M. White Robert M. White October 3, 1970 July 13, 1977 3 years, 310 days Richard Nixon
2 years, 164 days Gerald Ford
174 days
(6 years, 283 days total)
Jimmy Carter
2 Richard A. Frank Richard A. Frank July 13, 1977 January 20, 1981 3 years, 191 days
- James P. Walsh January 20, 1981 June 10, 1981 141 days Ronald Reagan
3 John V. Byrne John V. Byrne June 10, 1981[13] November 15, 1984 3 years, 158 days
4 Anthony J. Calio November 15, 1984 October 4, 1985[13] 323 days
October 4, 1985 September 15, 1987 1 year, 346 days
(2 years, 304 days total)
- J. Curtis Mack II September 15, 1987 March 31, 1988 198 days
5 William Evans William Eugene Evans March 31, 1988 August 7, 1989[14] 295 days
199 days
(1 year, 129 days total)
George H. W. Bush
6 John A. Knauss John A. Knauss August 7, 1989 [14] February 26, 1993 3 years, 166 days
37 days
(3 years, 203 days total)
Bill Clinton
- Diana Josephson February 26, 1993 May 28, 1993 91 days
7 Donald James Baker D. James Baker May 28, 1993[15] January 20, 2001 8 years, 206 days
- Scott Gudes Scott Gudes January 20, 2001 December 10, 2001[16] 324 days George W. Bush
8 VADMConrad C. Lautenbacher Conrad C. Lautenbacher December 10, 2001[16] October 31, 2008 6 years, 326 days
- William J. Brennan William J. Brennan October 31, 2008 March 19, 2009 81 days
58 days
(139 days total)
Barack Obama
9 Jane Lubchenco Jane Lubchenco March 20, 2009 February 28, 2013 3 years, 345 days
10 Kathryn D. Sullivan Kathryn D. Sullivan March 1, 2013 March 6, 2014 1 year, 5 days
March 6, 2014 January 20, 2017 2 years, 320 days
(3 years, 325 days total)
- Benjamin Friedman Benjamin Friedman January 20, 2017 October 25, 2017 278 days Donald Trump
- RDML Timothy Gallaudet Timothy Gallaudet October 25, 2017[17] February 25, 2019[18] 1 year, 123 days
- Neil Jacobs Neil Jacobs February 25, 2019[18] January 20, 2021 1 year, 330 days
- Benjamin Friedman Benjamin Friedman January 20, 2021 June 22, 2021 153 days Joe Biden
11 Rick Spinrad Rick Spinrad June 22, 2021[18] Present 1 year, 220 days

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Richard W. Spinrad sworn in as NOAA administrator | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration". www.noaa.gov. Retrieved 2021-06-23.
  2. ^ a b "NOAA Home Page - Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.) Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator". Retrieved September 24, 2007.
  3. ^ "US CODE: Title 15,1503b. Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere; duties; appointment; compensation". Retrieved September 24, 2007.
  4. ^ "Salary Table 2006-EX". Retrieved September 22, 2007.
  5. ^ "Executive Order on Succession at the Department of Commerce". Retrieved September 24, 2007.
  6. ^ "National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries Program Authorization Act of 1985". Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  7. ^ "REORGANIZATION PLAN NO. 4 OF 1970". Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  8. ^ "PN1099 — Barry Lee Myers — Department of Commerce". U.S. Congress. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  9. ^ "PN1364 — Barry Lee Myers — Department of Commerce". U.S. Congress. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  10. ^ "PN68 — Barry Lee Myers — Department of Commerce". U.S. Congress. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  11. ^ "White House pick to lead NOAA withdraws nomination, citing health concerns". The Washington Post. 20 November 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  12. ^ Hotakainen, Rob (18 December 2019). "Trump nominates acting NOAA leader to be permanent chief". Science Magazine. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  13. ^ a b "Trump Lags Predecessors in Naming Science Agency Leaders". American Institute of Physics. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  14. ^ a b Knauss, John A. (Winter 1989). "Memorandum for all NOAA Staff" (PDF). The National Cooperative Observer Newsletter. Archived from the original on 1 November 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2018.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  15. ^ Lawrence, Richard (31 May 1993). "CLINTON EXPECTED TO NAME GARTEN TO COMMERCE POST MANY KEY SLOTS REMAIN UNFILLED". Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  16. ^ a b Miller, David. "CONRAD LAUTENBACHER IS THE NEW NOAA ADMINISTRATOR". Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  17. ^ "TODAY TIDBITS: OCTOBER 29, 2017". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  18. ^ a b c Samenow, Jason (26 February 2019). "NOAA delays launch of 'next generation' weather forecast model and names new acting head". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 February 2019.