NOAA Responds to GAO Decision on Marine Operations Center-Pacific Lease

January 29, 2010

NOAA notified the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a letter sent today that, consistent with GAO’s recommendations, NOAA will conduct an assessment of whether there was a practicable alternative to awarding a lease to the Port of Newport, Ore., for the NOAA Marine Operations Center-Pacific.  

NOAA is taking this and other steps in response to GAO’s Dec. 2, 2009 decision sustaining a protest filed by the Port of Bellingham against NOAA’s lease award to the Port of Newport. GAO upheld one aspect of the protest on the basis that a portion of the pier structure at the Newport site would be in the 100-year floodplain. GAO determined that NOAA had not complied, prior to its lease award, with federal requirements to conduct an assessment of whether there was a practicable alternative to awarding the lease to a site in a base floodplain.

“NOAA is proceeding with all appropriate actions and intends to fully comply with GAO’s decision and recommended corrective actions,” said William F. Broglie, NOAA’s chief administrative officer.

NOAA plans to take the following actions:

NOAA expects to complete all actions no later than May 28, 2010.

GAO’s decision and recommendation did not require reversal of the award to Newport nor slowdown or stoppage of planned work. NOAA’s decision to comply with the GAO recommendations does mean that NOAA will review all four final offers to determine if there is or is not a practicable alternative to the Port of Newport.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.