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 will conduct an analysis of the final revised proposals submitted by 1801 Fairview Avenue East, LLC (Seattle), Port of Bellingham, and the Port of Port Angeles to determine if there is a practicable alternative that does not involve development in a base floodplain, and otherwise presents a feasible selection award under the solicitation for offers. NOAA has requested that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conduct an analysis of floodplain issues associated with the final revised proposals submitted by the four offerors in this acquisition, including the Port of Newport. NOAA will use the FEMA analysis as part of its overall analysis and document the basis of its recommendation of whether there is a practicable alternative. If NOAA determines that a practicable alternative exists, and is otherwise feasible to implement, NOAA would take the necessary steps to implement the alternative.
- If NOAA determines that there appears to be no practicable alternative to the Port of Newport lease award, NOAA plans to formally request the General Services Administration (GSA) to conduct an independent review of NOAA’s draft assessment of practicable alternatives to ensure that NOAA’s assessment has followed generally-accepted GSA standards in reaching its conclusions, including adequately documenting the issues and rationale used as the basis for the conclusions.
- If NOAA determines that there appears to be no practicable alternative to the Port of Newport lease award, NOAA will issue a public notice to the local community of Newport. The draft assessment report, including the Port of Newport’s proposed actions to minimize adverse impact of development in a floodplain, would be posted on the NOAA Web site for public review and comment for 30 days.
- Following conclusion of the public notice and comment period, NOAA would review comments and finalize the assessment report and make a final determination. NOAA would then publish a summary of its final determination, and advise the Port of Bellingham, the Port of Newport and GAO of NOAA’s final determination. The final report supporting NOAA’s determination will be posted to NOAA’s Web site.
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.