Benjamin Friedman to be Acting NOAA Administrator

Benjamin Friedman to be Acting NOAA Administrator

Benjamin Friedman, NOAA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Operations, will serve as Acting NOAA Administrator beginning on Friday at noon.  Administrator Kathy Sullivan is a presidential appointee and her tenure ends along with President Obama’s when Donald Trump is sworn in as the next President.  Until new presidential appointees are in place, Friedman and several others will serve in acting roles in addition to their current positions.  Among the others is Steve Volz, Assistant Administrator for NOAA Satellites, who will also serve as Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observations and Prediction, replacing Manson Brown.

Friedman is NOAA’s Chief Operating Officer and previously served as NOAA’s Deputy General Counsel, Chief of the Office of General Counsel Enforcement Section, Assistant General Counsel of the Department of Commerce (NOAA’s parent), and a federal prosecutor at the Department of Justice.

Benjamin Friedman.  Photo Credit:  NOAA website

Volz has been head of NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) since 2014. Prior to joining NOAA, he was associate director for flight programs in NASA’s Earth Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate. He was program executive for a number of NASA earth science missions including CloudSat, CALIPSO, and ICESat.  Before moving to NASA Headquarters, he worked at Goddard Space Flight Center as an instrument manager, systems engineer and cryogenic systems engineer on missions including the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE).  Prior to that he was a project manager and principal engineer at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

Steve Volz.  Photo credit:  NOAA website.

In a January 9, 2017 memo announcing these acting appointments, Friedman listed six other NOAA positions that will have acting heads:  Paul Doremus will be acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Conservation and Management; Craig McLean will be Acting Chief Scientist; Sam Rauch will be Acting Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries and Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Fisheries; Rob Moller will be Acting Director of the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs; Scott Smullen will be Acting Director of the Office of Communications; and Jeff Dillen and Kristen Gustafson will serve as Acting General Counsel.

Friedman added that he and other members of NOAA’s leadership have met with President-elect Transition Team members, but no nominee has been announced to serve as NOAA Administrator.

Wilbur Ross is Trump’s choice for Secretary of Commerce and Todd Ricketts is to be nominated as Deputy Secretary.  Ross’s nomination hearing is scheduled for January 18.

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