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Rep. Broun: NOAA's Response to Sandy Service Assessment Inquiry Disappointing

By by Jillian MacMath, Staff Writer
December 26, 2012, 2:38:49 AM EST

Rep. Paul Broun continued his inquiries into the Sandy Service Assessment Team situation Wednesday with yet another letter to NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, in which he stated his disappointment with her response to his Nov. 20 letter.

Assessment teams are routinely commissioned by NOAA to assess the performance of the agency before and during major events, but the assessment team commissioned to evaluate Sandy took an unusual turn, when it was terminated just days after its formation.

A Timeline of Sandy: Controversy Surrounding the Storm Broun's initial letter to Lubchenco requested clarification for several NOAA decisions, including why the Sandy Service Assessment team was terminated, and asked if the new assessment team would maintain the same level of independence as the decommissioned team.

Lubchenco replied by the requested deadline to Broun's first letter citing that she understood Broun's concerns. She left many of his questions unanswered, however.

"...I am disappointed that you elected not to answer many of my questions," Broun wrote in his most recent letter, adding that her reply also raised 'additional questions that require explanation.'

Broun's second letter requests answers to his initial questions which were disregarded by Lubchenco, as well as many new ones, including: who will serve on the new assessment team, and how the new individuals were selected.

NOAA Spokesman Chris Vaccaro has yet to respond to's Dec. 13 request for a roster of the newly-commissioned team.

Broun, among others, was critical of NOAA's decision scale back non-governmental participation on the assessment team.

NOAA previously stated that the originally commissioned team would have had to comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and that using only federal team members would allow NOAA to assess their services in a timely manner.

It is 'not logical that NOAA would prohibit external advisors' because of FACA, Broun said in his letter. "Using FACA to justify the exclusion of outside experts turns the purpose of FACA on its head," Broun wrote.

Dec. 29 will mark two months since Sandy plowed onshore in New Jersey, becoming the strongest hurricane on record to strike the United States north of North Carolina.

"I remain concerned that the NWS Sandy Service Assessment lacks sufficient independence as non-governmenal participation has been scaled back, confidentiality clauses have been added, and management influence has grown," Broun wrote.

Broun requests a response from Lubchenco by January 4, 2012.

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