Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent a bipartisan letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) questioning the agency's decision to remove Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Department of Commerce (DOC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) staff from meetings. The letter was also signed by Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Oversight Subcommittee Ranking Member Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.).
"Congress relies on information from GAO and the Commerce OIG to conduct oversight of NOAA's troubled weather satellite program," the lawmakers wrote. "Kicking watchdogs out of program management meetings flies in the face of transparency and is counterproductive to getting these critical programs back on track."
This morning at an Oversight Subcommittee hearing exploring challenges faced by America's science agencies, Chairman Smith questioned the DOC Deputy IG about the incident. The letter demands that GAO and IG staff be allowed to attend meetings for NOAA's follow-on weather satellite systems, which have had a long history of delays, cost overruns, and mismanagement.
The full text of the letter can be found in PDF format below: