Frank Lucas, chairman of the US House Science, Space and Technology Committee, has introduced legislation to enshrine the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) into law and establish it as a standalone agency within the executive branch.
Through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Act of 2023 (NOAA Organic Act), NOAA will become an independent agency with formal statutory authority. NOAA currently resides within the Department of Commerce and has never been established in law since it was created by executive action in 1970.
“After years of complex organizational challenges, it’s time for NOAA to become an independent agency and reach its full potential,” said Lucas. “The NOAA Organic Act not only gives NOAA formal statutory authority and authorizes its critical mission, but reduces bureaucratic inefficiencies, streamlines oversight efforts and refocuses core mission areas. This will strengthen NOAA’s important role of protecting people and property through its vital weather forecasts, severe weather monitoring and communication efforts. I want to thank our Science Committee staff and the numerous stakeholders for their support and feedback in the crafting of this simple, good-government bill.”
In addition to authorizing the agency’s critical mission, the NOAA Organic Act will:
- Promote scientific integrity and critical research within the agency by requiring NOAA’s Science Advisory Board to develop a strategic plan for their research and development activities every five years.
- Direct efficient reorganization of the agency, requiring NOAA to submit a reorganization plan that will prioritize how NOAA can best carry out its core mission while promoting collaboration and reducing duplication within the agency.
- Preserve the National Weather Service within the independent NOAA agency and support its critical work providing forecasts, monitoring severe weather and communicating weather information to local, state and federal authorities.
- Consolidate the agency’s mission by removing space commerce. The Office of Space Commerce will be positioned as its own entity within the Department of Commerce.
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