Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), announced her intent to resign, effective as of February. Confirmation hearings for Dr. Lubchenco’s successor will afford another opportunity for Congress to require full public airing of the gross misconduct engaged in and tolerated by NOAA and to require systemic fixes in NOAA and NOAA’s troubled Office of Law Enforcement (OLE).
Under Dr. Lubchenco’s stewardship, NOAA persistently frustrated disclosure of the OLE’s use of asset forfeiture funds (including being unable to document what happened to over $38 million of the $96 million that went into their Asset Forfeiture Fund) and destruction of presumably material evidence via a ‘shredding party‘ at the behest of a senior department leader, Dale Jones Jr, wherein the department is estimated to have destroyed 75-80% of the files material to an ongoing Office of Inspector General investigation. Furthermore, NOAA blocked disclosure of purchasing a trip, to Kuala Lumpur, for at least one Administrative Law Judge responsible for impartially ruling on the legality of NOAA forfeitures. NOAA frustrated disclosure of duplicate, undocumented, and unexplained expenses for reimbursement, including one NOAA employee who apparently submitted his expenses twice every month. And, NOAA attempted to hide its pleasure boat escapades.
NOAA continues to block disclosure of the second half of a Special Master Report addressing accusations of further malfeasance.