Rep. Hall Criticizes NOAA for Paying for Magicians at Training Conference
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), already in trouble with the Senate Appropriations Committee, has irked the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee for advertisiing to hire a magician for a NOAA training conference. NOAA subsequently withdrew the procurement request.
The letter from Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) to NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco cites an article in Government Executive (GovExec) that brought the issue to light. The GovExec article reported on a May 1 NOAA request for a quote on the Federal Business Opportunities website seeking a contractor who has "created a unique model of translating magic and principles of the psychology of magic, magic tools, techniques and experiences into a method of teaching leadership.” The request has since been withdrawn so no longer is on the fbo.gov website.
The Hall letter to Lubchenko stated that "[a]s the Federal Government continues to burden American taxpayers with trillion-dollar deficits and NOAA struggles to meet critical weather forecasting missions... this type of wasteful spending is simply unacceptable."
The letter comes in the wake of a significant scandal involving a General Services Administration (GSA) 2010 conference that included a clown and a mind-reader, and the Senate Appropriations Committee's decision to transfer NOAA's satellite programs to NASA because it believes NOAA does not manage satellite programs effectively.
Hall's letter called on NOAA to "immediately halt spending associated with this conference" and asked NOAA to respond to a series of questions by May 10. NOAA subsequently withdrew its procurement request. Government Executive reports that NOAA said in a statement, that is not yet posted on NOAA's website, that it withdrew the request and referred the matter to its General Counsel and Chief of Resource and Operations Management to look at the process involved in the solicitation and related issues.
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