U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Vice Chairman on the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee today made the following statement at a Subcommittee hearing on the Department of Commerce?s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Request.
"Thank you Madam Chair.
"I am pleased to be working with you on the CJS Subcommittee again and am eager to begin the discussion of the President?s 2014 budget proposal.
"The Department of Commerce, represented today by Dr. Blank, contains some of our nation's most important economic development, economic analysis and science and research agencies including the EDA, NIST, and NOAA.
"The President's budget proposes a total of $8.7 billion to fund the Department of Commerce, an increase of $1 billion over 2013. This is a significant increase in funding given our current budget environment and is proposed as a new, mandatory program.
"This troubles me.
"Dr. Blank, I hope that you can enlighten us with the details of the proposal today and why the Administration is asking this committee to establish a new mandatory program when the mandatory side of the ledger is already growing unrestrained. This is the area of government spending that most budget experts agree needs to be reformed.
"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA represents more than 60 percent of the Department?s budget at $5.6 billion. NOAA provides important support for our nation's fisheries, severe weather prediction, and navigation of the waters surrounding our country.
"NOAA's work is critical to the shipping industry as well as the fishing industry and provides essential support services in the aftermath of a disaster. These are areas in which they excel. Yet, in spite of these operational successes, NOAA continues to struggle with a number of significant issues. In particular, managing their ongoing satellite procurement programs remains a challenge. I am eager to hear what the Department, working in concert with NOAA, can do to ensure that future missteps do not occur.
"We also have with us today the Inspector General for the Department of Commerce, Mr. Zinser who has worked diligently to ensure that the entire Department is on the right track. I look forward to hearing about your work on NOAA?s satellite program but also about some of the other financially troublesome areas within the Department and the steps that are being taken to bring these programs in line with your recommendations.
"The Department of Commerce and each of its components provide essential services to the United States; however, the recurring issues Congress must contend with each year because of mismanagement of programs or resources or both, must stop. I am hopeful that this budget provides not only the resources necessary for the Department but ensures that there is a plan in place to right the ship.
"I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.
"Thank you Madam Chair."