Snowe, Senators Introduce Bill to Develop 21st Century Ocean Survey Workforce The bill reauthorizes (NOAA) Commissioned Officer Corps and provides mechanisms to help the Corps improve both its diversity and retention of senior female officers.
BigNews.Biz - Apr 30,2012 - Snowe, Senators Introduce Bill to Develop 21st Century Ocean Survey Workforce
WASHINGTON, DC. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), the Ranking Member of Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard,joined the subcommittee’s chair, Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska), in introducing a bill to improve the nation’s ocean survey workforce. Sens. Snowe and Begich were joined by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Lisa Murkowski (D-Alaska), and Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii). The bill reauthorizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Commissioned Officer Corps and provides mechanisms to help the Corps improve both its diversity and retention of senior female officers. The NOAA Corps is the smallest of the seven uniformed service of the United States, with 318 active commissioned officers.
“It is critical that we reauthorize and enhance the NOAA Commissioned Officers Corps to ensure that this small but critical branch of the uniformed service remains a strong support service for our nation’s fishermen and mariners,” said Senator Snowe, Ranking Member of the Senate Oceans subcommittee. “NOAA Corps provides critical support for NOAA’s missions, from conducting the fish surveys that our stock assessments rely on to performing the charting that ensures safe passage for our mariners – tasks which its skilled officers perform admirably. I am also pleased that our legislation would focus on recruiting and retaining more women and minority officers for this important service.”
The NOAA Corps Amendments Act of 2012 has several provisions to improve the Corps’ diversity, including one modeled on the Coast Guard’s successful “Blue 21” program. It authorizes financial support of highly qualified minority science and engineering college students if they agree to join the NOAA Corps. Another provision will help more senior officers balance the demands of going to sea nine months a year with having a family, by allowing for an unpaid ‘sabbatical’ in which officers can leave the service for a few years to start a family and then return at the rank they had before leaving.
The bill has been endorsed by the Military Officers Association of America, the National Military Family Association and the National Association for Uniformed Services.