Today’s Tidbits: January 8, 2019

Today’s Tidbits: January 8, 2019

Here are’s tidbits for January 8, 2019: Robert Lightfoot honored with 2019 Goddard Trophy; Barry Myers renomination for NOAA in the works?  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

Robert Lightfoot Honored with 2019 Goddard Trophy

Former NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot. Credit: NASA

The National Space Club & Foundation announced today that former NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot is the recipient of its prestigious 2019 Robert H Goddard Memorial Trophy.  It will be presented at the Club’s annual Goddard Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. on March 22, 2019.

Lightfoot retired from NASA in April 2018 after 30 years at the agency and a record-setting 15 months in the Acting Administrator position. He was appointed NASA’s Associate Administrator in 2012, the third highest position in the agency and the most senior civil servant.  The other two top positions are political appointments.  The terms of Administrator Charlie Bolden and Deputy Administrator Dava Newman ended along with the Obama Administration, putting  Lightfoot in the Acting Administrator position on January 20, 2017 in addition to his existing duties.

It took many months for the Trump Administration to choose Jim Bridenstine as its nominee for NASA Administrator and many more months before he was confirmed by the Senate. Bridenstine’s nomination was controversial and he was finally approved on a 50-49 party line vote.  It was that 50th Republican vote that took so long to secure. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who initially opposed Bridenstine, changed his position after Lightfoot announced his retirement, saying he did not want NASA to be leaderless for an “unacceptable period of time” waiting for any other nominee to be confirmed.

Lightfoot left the agency effective April 30, 2018 and became President of LSINC in Huntsville, AL, essentially moving back home. He worked at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville for most of his career, serving as Director from 2009-2012.

Bridenstine was sworn in as Administrator on April 23, 2018 and was one of many cheering the announcement of the award today.

We tweeted our congrats, too!

Barry Myers Renomination for NOAA in the Works?

Barry Lee Myers, former CEO, AccuWeather.

The Senate never confirmed Barry Lee Myers to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of NOAA in the 115th Congress.  That means the Trump Administration will have to send a new nomination to the Senate this year.  It may be Myers again.

Myers was originally nominated by President Trump in 2017.  The nomination was controversial because he and his brother, Joel, own AccuWeather, a commercial weather information company.  He has been its CEO since 2007 and held leadership positions in the company before that. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who was the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee at the time, was a vocal opponent of Myers, believing it would be a conflict of interest for Myers to serve as NOAA Administrator.  The National Weather Service is part of NOAA.

Nelson pointed out that in 2005 Myers tried to get legislation passed to prevent the National Weather Service from offering a product or service that could be provided by the private sector, which would have directly benefited AccuWeather. Nelson said it would have put Americans’ access “to free and potentially life-saving government weather forecasts at risk.”  Myers was approved by the committee on a party-line vote, but his nomination was never brought before the Senate. (He actually was approved by the committee twice, once in 2017 and again in 2018, since nominations do not carry over from one year to the next and he had to be renominated in 2018.)

On January 4, AccuWeather announced that Myers “stepped down as officer and director of AccuWeather and its subsidies and affiliated companies, effective January 1, 2019 and has sold all of his interest in these companies.”  The announcement went on to note that his nomination had not been confirmed “and will require re-nomination by the President…” and that he now has fulfilled a pledge to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and during his congressional nomination hearing “to fully divest himself of AccuWeather and of any and all related interests.”  Nelson lost his re-election race so will not be there to weigh in on the nomination if it is resubmitted, but other Democrats on the committee also voted against him.

In the meantime, NOAA’s Deputy Administrator, RDML Timothy Gallaudet (Ret.) is serving as Acting Administrator.

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