Monday, November 23, 2009

The NOAA's fate and One Angry Man's Choice.

Edward Wenk Jr.'s account of The Politics of the Ocean in 1960s era America argues that President Nixon placed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within the Department of Commerce instead of the Department of Interior in 1970 because he was annoyed at Walter Hickel, the Head of the Interior, for some anti-Vietnam statements that he had made and so was unwilling to increase his funding by giving him a new institution to administer.
I have read elsewhere that Walter Hickel also embarrassed himself at some Congressional hearings by admitting that he unaware of the report that was calling for the establishment of the NOAA.

In either case it is troubling that such an important decision seems to have been made on such petty considerations. One hopes that most government decisions are made with more deliberation.



  1. Someone who was "at the scene" tells me that when Nixon signed Reorganization Plan #4, he simply crossed out "Department of the Interior" and wrote in "Department of Commerce"!