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                                                       Calendar No. 120
108th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                     108-58

======================================================================



 
   RATIFICATION OF CERTAIN NOAA APPOINTMENTS, PROMOTIONS, AND ACTIONS

                                _______
                                

                  June 3, 2003.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

       Mr. McCain, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 886]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill joint resolution deg. (S. 
H.R.  deg.886) TITLE ``A Bill Act deg. to 
ratify otherwise legal appointments and promotions in the 
commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration that failed to be submitted to the Senate for 
its advice and consent as required by law, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon 
without amendment with amendments deg. with 
an amendment (in the nature of a substitute) deg. and 
recommends that the bill joint resolution deg. 
(as amended) deg. do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

  The purpose of S. 886, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA) Corps Confirmation Correction 
Legislation, is to ratify the otherwise legal appointments and 
promotions in the commissioned corps of NOAA that failed to be 
submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent as required 
by law.

                          Background and Needs

  The NOAA Corps is the smallest of the seven uniformed 
services of the United States (the others are the four 
Department of Defense services, the Coast Guard, and the Public 
Health Service). The NOAA Corps is comprised of slightly over 
250 commissioned officers and operates a wide variety of 
specialized aircraft and ships used to conduct NOAA's 
environmental and scientific missions. Its commissioned 
officers provide NOAA with an important blend of operational, 
management, and technical skills that support the agency's 
science and surveying programs at sea, in the air, and ashore. 
Corps officers operate and manage NOAA's ships and aircraft as 
well as serve in the agency's research laboratories and program 
offices throughout the nation and in remote locations around 
the world.
  The NOAA Corps officer appointments and promotions are 
similar to the other uniformed services and, under section 226 
of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
Commissioned Officer Corps Act of 2002 (33 U.S.C. 3026) and its 
antecedent, require nomination by the President and must be 
submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent. 
Historically, the Commerce Committee has considered NOAA 
promotions, along with routine Coast Guard officer promotions, 
during Full Committee Executive Sessions.
  It recently came to the Committee's attention that NOAA has 
failed since October 1, 1999, to submit any of its NOAA Corps 
officer appointments and promotions to the President for 
nomination and subsequently to the Senate for its advice and 
consent. Since then, the NOAA Corps has made approximately 251 
appointments and promotions, involving approximately 196 
officers. An ongoing Department of Commerce investigation 
indicates these procedural problems may have existed prior to 
October 1, 1999, and additional officers' appointments and 
promotions may also be affected. These revelations raise 
serious questions concerning the validity of these appointments 
and promotions that could affect each individual officer's pay, 
entitlements, job status, and the ability to carry out the 
officer's official actions.
  To address this serious situation, the legislation is 
designed to provide a framework for retroactive appointments 
and promotions for the affected officers in a manner that will 
protect the professional and financial aspects of their 
positions, and that will ensure that all past actions taken in 
the line of duty by such officers after their appointments and/
or promotions are considered to have been official actions. The 
bill states that all actions performed in the line of duty by 
these NOAA corps officers are ratified and approved. In 
addition, the legislation states that all Federal agency 
actions (with respect to pay, benefits, and retirement) in 
relation to an unconfirmed NOAA corps officer shall be 
considered legally binding.
  The bill provides that the President, acting alone, can make 
appointments and promotions for up to 180 days to allow these 
officers to maintain their status until the full Senate gives 
its advice and consent for these appointments and promotions 
going forward. Once this bill is enacted into law, the 
Administration is expected to submit the list of these officers 
to the Senate for its advice and consent.

                          Legislative History

  S. 886 was introduced on April 10, 2003, by Senators McCain, 
Hollings, Snowe, and Kerry, and referred to the Senate 
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. On May 1, 
2003, the bill was considered by the Committee in an open 
executive session. The Committee, without objection, ordered S. 
886 reported without amendments.

                            Estimated Costs

  In compliance with subsection (a)(3) of paragraph 11 
of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee 
states that, in its opinion, it is necessary to dispense with 
the requirements of paragraphs (1) and (2) of that subsection 
in order to expedite the business of the Senate. deg.
  In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 
Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                       Washington, DC, May 7, 2003.
Hon. John McCain,
Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. 
        Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 886, a bill to 
ratify otherwise legal appointments and promotions in the 
commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration that failed to be submitted to the Senate for 
its advice and consent as required by law.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contract is Deborah 
Reis.
            Sincerely,
                                          Barry B. Anderson
                               (For Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director).
    Enclosure.

S. 886--A bill to ratify otherwise legal appointments and promotions in 
        the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
        Administration that failed to be submitted to the Senate for 
        its advice and consent as required by law

    S. 886 would ratify about 250 appointments or promotions of 
officers in the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration made since October 1, 1999. (These 
actions did not receive Senate approval at the time they were 
made.) CBO estimates that implementing this bill would have no 
effect on the federal budget because the legislation would 
confirm personnel actions that have already taken place. 
Enacting S. 886 would have no effect on revenues or direct 
spending.
    The legislation contains no intergovernmental or private-
sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act 
and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contract for this estimate is Deborah Reis. 
This estimate was approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

  Because S. 886 does not create any new programs, the 
legislation would have no additional regulatory impact, and 
will result in no additional reporting requirements. The 
legislation would have no further effect on the number or types 
of individuals and businesses regulated, the economic impact of 
such regulation, the personal privacy of affected individuals, 
or the paperwork required from such individuals and businesses.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Ratification of certain NOAA appointments, promotions, and 
        actions

  This section would ratify otherwise legal appointments and 
promotions in the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration that failed to be submitted to 
the Senate for its advice and consent as required by law.

                        Changes in Existing Law

  In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, the Committee states that the bill as 
reported would make no change to existing law.