Godden: Thanks, Sen. Cantwell, for grilling Locke over NOAA's move

The tense exchange between once-fellow Washington state Democrats keyed off a federal report faulting the agency's decision to move from Seattle to Newport, Ore.
NOAA ships at their Seattle base

NOAA ships at their Seattle base NOAA

Thank goodness Sen. Maria Cantwell continues to pursue the great NOAA boondoggle.

In case you hadn’t heard: This state’s junior senator recently struck a blow for U.S. taxpayers and earned applause for her grilling of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, the former Washington state governor, over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s flawed plan to move the agency’s homeport to — where? — Newport, Ore.

Cantwell made use of a committee hearing to question Locke about the NOAA inspector general’s finding that the agency should have looked at existing federal facilities before awarding homeport status to Newport. The sharp exchange between Cantwell and Locke is troubling in the extreme, especially since Locke cited the Inspector General’s scathing report as a reason to continue with an unwise and costly mistake.

There seems little question NOAA erred. Despite calls from many, including the Seattle City Council, NOAA refused to reconsider lower-cost options to base the NOAA vessels at two local sites — one on the Duwamish River and one at NOAA's Sand Point installation. These properties are both federally owned.

The homeport decision-making process itself was mismanaged. There were so many problems, it is no wonder that Sen. Cantwell, along with Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, insisted on the inspector general’s review. Some of the most egregious aspects include:

  • The NOAA fleet’s own commander urged reconsideration of the Duwamish site, pointing out that “it could save us and the taxpayer a lot of money.”
  • Oregon appropriated $19.5 million to build a dock and offices for NOAA, in order to make Newport seem a cheaper alternative. Oregon taxpayers have been duped into subsidizing the boondoggle.
  • Repair facilities and technical skills, readily accessed in Seattle, are not available in Newport.
  • It has been revealed that Newport is located in a flood plain, a finding that, under NOAA’s own rules, should have eliminated the Newport proposal.
  • The corrosive effect of saltwater on ships' hulls was not taken into consideration. Access to fresh water moorage in Seattle, which could double the life of the ships, should have been factored into cost estimates.

It seems unconscionable that, in these difficult fiscal times, NOAA is sticking with its flawed choice, particularly in light of the IG’s report that the process was botched. The report confirms the position that Seattle is the best place and even the most cost-effective for NOAA’s Pacific operations.

Taxpayers have a right to expect more from their leaders, particularly in these tough times. Government should not stand by flawed processes designed to allow decision-makers to play favorites. Government should not wantonly waste existing federal resources and dollars.

Thanks go to Senator Cantwell for keeping up the good fight. She represents the best in political leadership. The best value for taxpayers is keeping NOAA here.

Jean Godden is a member of the Seattle City Council and chair of its Libraries, Utilities, and Center Committee. She was a columnist and chronicler of Seattle life for many years at both Seattle daily newspapers. She has endorsed state Sen. Ed Murray for mayor. You can follow her on Twitter: @jean_godden.


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Comments:

Posted Sat, Jul 3, 4:13 p.m. Inappropriate

Godden's comment is an out and out lie. The IG report NEVER and I mean NEVER said "that Seattle is the best place and even the most cost-effective for NOAA's Pacific operations" How dare she make such a lie when it is so easy to confirm that it's not the truth. Call her and ask her to point out precisely where, in the report it says that Seattle is the best place and even the most cost-effective for NOAA's Pacific operations. Even the biased Seattle press does not go this far. Godden, how do you look in the mirror ever day ?

nptdz

Posted Sat, Jul 3, 5:58 p.m. Inappropriate

I wonder why no one has mentioned that the new head of NOAA, Jane Lubchenco, was a professor at Oregon State. Guess where OSU has a marine station??? Surprise - Newport, Oregon. Coincidence?

elaine

Posted Sat, Jul 3, 6:10 p.m. Inappropriate

Elaine,

The "flawed process" and the evaluation the lead to Newport was done BEFORE Lubchenco was appointed the head of NOAA. Check the facts yourself. So yes, it is a coincidence but thanks for spreading more uninformed conspiracy theories, it makes for fun reading no matter how untrue it is.

nptdz

Posted Sat, Jul 3, 7:50 p.m. Inappropriate

@nptdz, go read the article again! (or I suspect, you should read it for the first time)

She never said that the IG said that Seattle was the best place. What she said is that the decision making process was flawed because they never investigated two sites *already owned* by the Federal government.

noah

Posted Sat, Jul 3, 8:17 p.m. Inappropriate

I doubt that residents of Newport and Lincoln County feel duped. $20 million is chump change when you look at the infusion of permanent jobs and related economic benefits into that little coastal community.

Seneca

Posted Sat, Jul 3, 9:41 p.m. Inappropriate

Seneca,

From the article:"The report confirms the position that Seattle is the best place and even the most cost-effective for NOAA’s Pacific operations."
Not true.
Learn to read yourself.

nptdz

Posted Sat, Jul 3, 10:41 p.m. Inappropriate

Previous post was to noah

nptdz

Posted Sun, Jul 4, 12:41 a.m. Inappropriate

nptdz-

Please conduct some (effective) research. People have their entire careers invested and are not willing to give it up that easily. The NOAA West Coast legacy was built in Seattle, and in Seattle she will stay.

Lubchenco was sworn in March 19, 2009, BEFORE Newport was selected, on August 4, 2009. Hmmm, wow. Looking good, nptdz.

If the Federal Govt (that is OUR tax dollars) spends nearly $57 million over 20 years to LEASE a facility in Newport, who benefits the cash? Port of Newport, maybe? Jane Lubchenco owes OSU favors, maybe? OSU missed the bid on UNOLS boats, maybe they should have gotten into a battle more worth fighting for, unlike this $57 million pipe dream.

It gets even worse- add another $20 Million subsidy from Oregon ~ which should be used to keep Oregon drug/alcohol/gambling rehabilitation centers open, Oregon schools open, or perhaps repair the OSU Research Vessel Wecoma?

Holey Moley, that is $77 Million dollars of state/federal funds for a LEASE! I'm sure that Port of Newport is drooling over that kinda money!

How does that save any tax dollars on this Planet? We the People of the United States of America, already own land that is suitable, effective, and has successfully served the NOAA fleet since its very first day, and even before the days of NOAA as the USGS.

NOAA will spend 1/10th of that to relocate and rebuild in Seattle, on Federal Property, within close proximity to the largest West Coast group of NOAA Scientists, at the Western Regional Center, no Tsunami risk there, fresh water moorage, which was dredged in the 1970's in anticipation of this very moment?

Please do not insult those who have been involved with this process way before the Pipe Dream of Newport MOCP was invented, by whom I do not even care.

NOAA Officials may have said Newport is Final, I say

SimplyPut

Posted Sun, Jul 4, 9:51 a.m. Inappropriate

Dear Jean,
While you’re excoriating NOAA over the relocation of the survey ships, why don’t you turn the same indignant/self- righteous fury on WSDOT over the deep bored tunnel? Come to think of it, why don’t you take a look at what you’re doing, your part in virtually a similar situation, the deep bored tunnel project?

SCAT’s board has read the IG’s report about the NOAA environmental review process, and just as NOAA did not perform that review with the utmost objectivity, so too the same thing is going on with the deep bored tunnel – the tunnel project is hardly part of an objective process, and it even more directly impacts Seattle, and it is happening with your and your fellow council members’ wholehearted approval.

For you to be presiding over the tunnel project, enacting legislation and taking every act possible to ensure that it is proceeding apace, all before there is any final impact statement even completed, the thing that is to inform the choice, not ratify it, is hypocritical, not to mention illegal in the bargain.

Therefore, no one should buy into your moral and civic outrage over the NOAA matter. When the shoe is on the other foot you obviously have no problem in averting your eyes to the wrongdoing that you and the City Council are engaged in, to the total lack of regard that you and they have for the environmental protection laws that cover the deep bored tunnel project.

How can you mock what NOAA did, when you have amply demonstrated your total lack of regard for the City’s environmental and fiscal well-being as evidenced by your approval of now billions of dollars of City dollars for a project that deepens the annual deficit of the City by tens of millions of dollars, as you give your unqualified approval for this project that is the antithesis of the green and sustainability policies of the City, that destroys a perfectly functional transportation system, and that does nothing to improve the quality of life for the people of Seattle?

You stated in your opinion piece: “Taxpayers have a right to expect more from their leaders, particularly in these tough times. Government should not stand by flawed processes designed to allow decision-makers to play favorites. Government should not wantonly waste existing federal resources and dollars.” Those words will come back to haunt you over the deep bored tunnel project. You and the other council members, along with the State people, are presiding over the same flawed environmental review processes related to the deep bored tunnel, you have played a favorite, and now you are wantonly wasting not just federal dollars, but also State and City dollars!

This has been repeatedly brought to your and your fellow council members' attention, the public has not overwhelmingly supported this project and the role the council is playing in it. Instead you adamantly refuse to reconsider your part in the deep bored tunnel, and insist on continuing to promulgate the City’s own “NOAA-gate” scandal – the deep bored tunnel. We look forward to the inspector general report that details the City Council’s part in playing favorites, how it duped the public into paying for streetcars to nowhere, how it presided over the tunnel boondoggle where insiders made off with millions in contracts that produced little value, how it destroyed a fully functional transportation system, how it bankrupted the City of Seattle, and the ensuing letter-to-the-editor about City Council/Jean Godden’s comeuppance. www.scatnow.com

Posted Sun, Jul 4, 9:54 a.m. Inappropriate

Simply Put,

Your research is Simple and incomplete. While Lubchenco was sworn in before the results of the selection process was announced. The "flawed process" (i.e. the criteria by which the selection was made and the inclusion of Newport within the territory to be considered) long preceded Lubchenco's appointment. Further the evaluation process was near completion by the time Lubchenco was appointed(i.e. the various sites had already been effectively scored). You have absolutely no empirical data to support your cost estimate of that staying is Seattle would be 1/10th of the cost of the move to Newport. Your math on the $77 million makes no sense. The actual lease cost in Newport is about one half of the nearly 100 million Seattle wanted for a site it couldn't even guarantee it could deliver. I bet no one would have complained about the $100 million in Seattle had it been awarded the bid. Finally, NOAA has signed a lease without a termination clause, which, by the way the Inspector General said was perfectly appropriate, and therefore, NOAA is already obligated under the lease no matter what Cantwell does, so as a practical matter Newport is by far the least cost alternative. Frankly, I don't care what you care about because your bias is obvious and you clearly are not as informed as you believe.

nptdz

Posted Sun, Jul 4, 1:51 p.m. Inappropriate

The IG Report clearly shows that the process was flawed from the beginning, showing that NOAA chose which rules applied to them, how they interpreted them, and only when advantageous. Lubchenco was administrator when most of the final decisions were made.

The DOC IG Report documents that NOAA failed to adequately consider existing Federal Properties, as required to do so by NOAA, DOC, and Presidential Orders and regulations.

NOAA dismissed the use of NOAA's Western Regional Center based upon memos from the 1970's- disputes with the people on the hill. Too bad they did not ask current landowners what they thought before dismissing WRC. We'll let politics bring that up.

I stand corrected, $73 Million is the confirmed minimum amount of monies spent over the life of the lease by govt entities. $2.66 Million X 20 yrs = $53.2 Million Cost to US Taxpayer. I don't believe this takes into account relocation expenses of the affected NOAA employees. $20 Million is the amt Oregon subsidized, which probably could have been used more appropriately, say for instance, saving the drug/alcohol/gambling programs it was originally intended for. Or, like I mentioned previously, saving teachers jobs from being cut, or OSU RV Wecoma. And Newport claims that $19Million will be brought into Newport every year? Wow, that's a wild guestimation, even according to my guestimating protocol!

NOAA higher ups chose not to include some additional expenses in the Solicitation For Offers(SFO), such as fuel, shipping, and travel costs day to day, and also every winter inport, as Newport has no shipyards able to drydock a ship.

Here's some obvious favoritism documented in the IG report, when late in the game, and additional Technical Merit was added, Quality of Piers(?forget actual name). Hmmm, late in the game BIG TIME game changer, as Newport was building brand new piers? Wow, what a strange coincidence which now only Newport benefits? Hmmmmm. I seem to remember the Air Force Fuel Tanker contract was canceled due to similar late in the game additions that showed obvious favoritism...

So I am pretty sure $77 Million is a pretty accurate guestimate, of state/federal funds allocated to this 20 yr lease.

So, nptdz, the Seattle Lease option is close to $100 Million you say? That is a moot point not worth discussion if the SFO never should have occurred.

Using existing federal facilities, and upgrading them to meet NOAA's needs, in times like these of dwindling budgets, makes far more sense than spending in excess of $77 Million over 20 years, when a fraction (ok-guestimated 1/10th, you caught me again) of that money could be used more effectively to build a permanent solution in a region that supports this development, on property we already own, not in a tsunami zone, not in a floodplain, with multiple shipyards in near vicinity, etc, etc.

According to the IG report, NOAA has not considered it adequately.

The IG report continues to expose the shim-shammery of the Newport decision. Better get out your chest waders, cuz it's getting pretty deep around the Newport selection.

And the termination clause, oh, darn, Newport really has this now. Hmmm, so Newport leveled the ground and made a few drawings? Pay em off for what they have accomplished, even the test pier foundation that sunk into the abyss, paying them off now will save the taxpayer in the long run.

And, oh yes, I am biased, as Newport Oregon can in no way support the fleet of research vessels like the Greater Puget Sound already does. They just want the money.

SimplyPut

Posted Sun, Jul 4, 2:38 p.m. Inappropriate

SimplyPut,

First, I notice you never addressed your baseless accusation that
Lubchenco had anything to do with this. I don't believe there was and you sure don't have any proof but if there was any favoritism she had nothing to do with it.

Second, your statement of the cost to pay off the Port is inaccurate.

Third, the report says the cost to stay in Seattle with dispersed facilities should have been considered but was not. It in no way said Seattle was cheaper and better. That part of Godden's statement was a lie because the report flatly did not confirmed what she claims, in fact it explicitly says they don't know because that type of evaluation wasn't done.

Fourth, the floodplain issue had nothing to do with an actual risk to the facilities and none of the land-based facilities are in the floodplain. It was a legal technicality left over from the Carter administration designed to protect the floodplain.

Fifth, you ignore all the other factors that lead NOAA to select Newport including the roughly $50,000 NOAA just to get to the Pacific Ocean every time it takes one of the ships out.

Finally, where was Seattle's concern about costs when it expected NOAA to pay it $100 million just in lease costs alone. Everything now is just second guessing and sour grapes. No one ever complained about the process until the lost. Now it just sounds like sour grapes from a bunch of crybabies. Get over it.

nptdz

Posted Sun, Jul 4, 3:21 p.m. Inappropriate

This flawed process was under Lubchenco's command, therefore she had something to do with it, her involvement unbeknown but to her and her closest allies.

How is my cost of Newport inaccurate? Do the math, 20x$2.6Mil federal dollars (plus unincluded costs), and the State of Oregon subsidized another $19.5Million, which allowed Newport to remain under the 2.6Million prospectus threshold.

Godden should have used other words, you are correct.

The purpose of the Executive Order regarding floodplain development is meant to protect these habitats. It is not a technicality- it is a conservation order. Since NOAA chooses to disregard this Executive Order is another of their pick-and-choose as they wish obeying of rules and regulations.

How do you get the $50k for transit costs to the Pacific Ocean? The operation of a vessel for 24 hrs is less than that...

I agree that a lease of this stature($53Million, $100Million, etc, whatever) should never have been an option. It is a now a flawed process that is being carried out, and as it stands, even Gary Locke admits that is has errors. You will find that if NOAA had conducted this properly, the vessels would be staying in Seattle, but instead of leasing property, they would have a permanent solution. Yes, do the math, saving taxpayer dollars.

SimplyPut

Posted Sun, Jul 4, 5:53 p.m. Inappropriate

SimplyPut,

You're dogged criticism of Lubchenco is still unwarranted. It's like blaming Obama for the collapse of the housing industry. The wheels were already in motion and there wasn't much she could do at that point. She barely had time to know what was going on. Especially, since NOAA was legally required to be out of its current site by June of 2011.

The $50,000 came from NOAA. It primarily consists of fuel, supplies, maintenance and labor costs.

I don't agree that if NOAA had conducted things differently that the vessels would necessarily be staying in Seattle. The data necessary to draw that conclusion has never been collected.

The cost to federal tax payers is $52 million over 20 years as opposed to
100 million for the Seattle lease. The other 20 million is from Oregon lottery funds. If Oregon chooses to subsidize the cost because they think its worth it, it should be of no concern to taxpayers outside the state of Oregon.

Finally, to elaborate, the damages for breaking the lease now go way beyond simply stopping work. The Port of Newport is now legally obligated to many contractors and those involved in the bonding process that would likely sue the Port if they tried to cancel the contracts. Thus, all of these damages would need to be added to any cost of changing the decision at this point not to mention the cost of the re-evaluation process and the cost of delay. In the end, the result my be that it is actually more expensive to keep dispersed facilities in Seattle. Any objection to the process should have been made at the outset instead of arrogantly assuming that Newport wouldn't win it. Now is way too late.

nptdz

Posted Sun, Jul 4, 7:11 p.m. Inappropriate

nptdz-

My criticism of Lubchenco is very well warranted. Who decided to change the technical merit factor so late in the game, benefiting only Newport? I am willing to bet Lubchenco knows that answer, maybe she has nothing to do with this process, but she is the Administrator of NOAA, and ultimately she is accountable.

Get this, the only way to win a bid of this stature, with less than 3 potential offerors, the cheapest bidder must also be #1 in technical merit... Since NOAA knew that multiple bidders already told them they would not be able to go lower than the the prospectus, NOAA knew that Newport must also win Technical Merit. Makes you go hmmmm. It also helps to have someone on the inside rooting for you....

NOAA kept this a closed door procedure, and the general public may never know the entire story. I hope Senator Cantwell tightens her purse strings, gets documents released for all to view, and holds someone in NOAA accountable for this lapse in judgment.

Your dollar values to get ships from Seattle to the Pacific Ocean do not add up with facts from NOAA_in_Seattle, unless NOAA_for_Newport on the other hand assessed that $ value against the Puget Sound bidders- that makes more sense, now. While the daily rate of a research vessel is quite large, it is not $50k.

You are 100% correct regarding my opinions of the Oregon $19.5Million subsidy that pushed them below the threshold. I do not live in Oregon, and how they spend their money is entirely up to them. But I have read that the funds used for NOAA Newport were taken from lottery funds originally appropriated for drug/alcohol/gambling rehab. Hmmmmm. I don't want Oregonians duped into thinking that NOAA or anyone else will repay that fund down the road with the supposed influx of $19Million per year that will somehow ~poof~ arrive from thin air, once NOAA moves to Newport. Dreams, I tell ya. I bet the powers that be (NOAA_for_Newport) also came up with that number, too.

Breaking the lease: If Senator Cantwell finds that someone in the agency that she is the Chair of blatantly disregarded rules, she must hold them accountable. Contracts are written and broken every day in this great nation we are a part of, and I am sure people are already assessing that value to terminate the lease, not you or I. That dollar value would never exceed the monies saved keeping the fleet in the Puget Sound area. People from all political affiliations will want to hold someone accountable for this flawed process, whether they are for NOAA in Seattle or not.

I agree with you that all parties felt as if Newport was not going to win, it was a no-brainer to many of us. How could a port that is closed many days throughout the year be the homeport for the entire fleet? No way could Newport win, most believed.

NOAA Ship Ronald Brown nearly ran aground over a decade ago, and NOAA conducted a risk assessment of the entire evolution. Guess what, Newport was only recommended as a port of entry for July and August. NOAA_for_Newport chose to disregard this study. Another study NOAA_for_Newport chose to disregard concerned the dispersion of the fleet you now hear being discussed. Yup, NOAA conducted a study that showed that splitting the fleet could potentially save money. Wild, I wonder why NOAA_for_Newport chose to disregard this study?

The "Deciders" decided on which rules to follow when it suited them, even making rules up along the way.

The whole process was flawed. If this goes to trial, as it should, and people are summoned under penalty of perjury, we will see the heads turn, and find out what really happened.

SimplyPut

Posted Sun, Jul 4, 7:52 p.m. Inappropriate

SimplyPut,
The inclusion of the new criteria long preceded Lubchenco's entry into the picture. That is a verifiable fact. So is the 50,000.00 cost to get to the Pacific if you believe NOAA's own cost figures which I consider far more reliable than your uninformed opinion. No way to respond to the rest of your latest post as it consists solely of baseless opinion and conjecture completely showing your bias. Kinda figures you'd resort to this since you really are left with nothing else. In the end your response is finally showing up exactly what it sounded like in the first place, sour grapes from a crybaby who didn't complain about the rules 'til he lost the game.

nptdz

Posted Sun, Jul 4, 7:59 p.m. Inappropriate

I am as close to the inside as one can be, these are not uninformed opinions.

Time will tell, young grasshopper.

These grapes will surely ripen soon enough, and be sour no longer.

SimplyPut

Posted Sun, Jul 4, 11:58 p.m. Inappropriate

Simpy put, you need to stop posting until you do some research on the subject. You are wrong on so many points I will not even waste my time pointing out all the flaws of your logic. You are too biased to aruge with, but this was a fair and transparent bid which Newport won on tech merit and cost after NOAA factored in all aspects. Please do some research before commenting. It is all sour grapes and you would not be complaining if Seattle won.

Regards
RJV3

rjv3

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 12:08 a.m. Inappropriate

Simply put,

Few more points; Anyone with any knowledge is aware that Jane Lubchenco stayed completly out of this process and had nothing to do with the decision. She did this to stay away from any conflict of interest like you suggest. Your opinions are not of the informed opinions like you claim. You might be able to fool the uniformed, but you can not fool the informed.

Regards
RJV3

rjv3

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 1:54 a.m. Inappropriate

RJV3,

Have you even read the DOC IG Report, and if you have, are you now so sure that Newport will still be the new homeport?

I wish you would point out where I am wrong on so many points. I have been doing research for years on this subject, before NOAA Pipe Dream Newport was even added to the list of potential homeports.

This was by far a fair and transparent process; my reasons above and more quoted below all show contrary. They are backed up by factual documents, some of which are not available to the public, yet.

This is not a rally against the City nor the People of Newport, I feel as if the "deciders" built a process in which Newport was surely the winner. Although I may speculate on Lubchenco direct involvement, proof or not, she should not have abandoned the entire process due to "conflict of interest", nor use it as a scapegoat now. It is her duty as the Administrator to have a vested interest in a process of this magnitude. The same goes for Locke, this happened during his watch, and he should have had a vested interest from the very beginning. NOAA admins can flip flop all day long to Senator Cantwell, but lets see what happens if they are subpoenaed. And while they are at it, subpoena NOAA's James Barrows, the Realty guru who directly oversaw the entire process, and his boss, NOAA's David Garton. They are both intimately familiar with the entire process over the past 10 years.

"Future travel, fuel and support service contract costs..." were deemed "far too speculative" for NOAA to include them in the competition. How is that fair and transparent to not include those costs when saying Newport has the best value to the Government? Especially when 80%(from NOAA memos) of the scientists using the vessels are already living in Seattle, most of which work at WRC. Fair and transparent to NOT include those associated costs directly?

I could go on and on citing NOAAs own recollection and justification for selecting Newport, which rules they chose to follow when, and which internal reports they chose not to recognize. I have already identified several. Fair and transparent?

People need to be aware that just because NOAA did not do all of their homework from day one, this does not give them the right to continue any further with this flawed process.

NOAA dismissed WRC because "there was little reason for NOAA to believe that the community objections leading to the 1970's litigation had dissipated..." NOAA dredged WRC in the 1970's in order to expand and relocate the entire MOC-P fleet. NOAA never again approached these homeowners, instead using 1970's memos to dismiss WRC. Fair and transparent?

The light is getting brighter Seattle. Urge all you know to support NOAA in Seattle, continue to question the powers that be, and continue to shed more light on this "fair and transparent process"

SimplyPut

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 8 a.m. Inappropriate

Why is all of this coming up after the fact? NOAA deemed it best to have a single base for its ships. If it was such a good idea to split the ships up , why didn't Seattle et al propose that? Why did the Seattle, Bellingham, and the Port Angeles even go into the process if it was so flawed at the beginning? Why when the appeals were filed did Seattle not even appeal the ruling? Why is it just after the fact, after the Washington ports lost fair and square, that suddenly the NOAA bid specifications were the wrong specifications?

As others have pointed out, if Seattle or any other port in the State of Washington had won Maria Cantwell and and company would not be complaining. Do you really believe Cantwell would be arguing to split the fleet up or to put it on Lake Washington if Bellingham had won? Or Port Angeles had won? Heck, no she'd be trumpeting the great waterfront revitalization opportunity for Bellingham or the desperately needed new jobs for Port Angeles.

The only thing this has to do about anything is that an OREGON port won the competition with the highest technical score and the lowest lease cost. Once that happened, and once it became clear that both Bellignham and Port Angeles were also in flood plains (the original reason Cantwell said the process was flawed), now its all about splitting the fleet up to make Seattle an option. But again, why didn't Seattle push for that when NOAA was putting forth the specifications?

Come on folks, this isn't about the objective facts of the decision. This is politics plain and simple. Cantwell would not have raised a single issue if a Washington State port had won. She's doing anything she can -- fair or not -- to keep this base anywhere there might be people who can vote for her -- i.e., Washingtonians. That's the only criteria she cares about.

JohnQP

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 8:23 a.m. Inappropriate

NOAA knew all of this all along, and is simply picking and choosing which rules apply to them when it suits them best.

Concerning floodplain development, they say that there is no practicable alternative? NOAA chose to limit their scope of that fine study to the 4 offerors, instead of conducting a thorough review beforehand, as required by Executive Order. Fair and transparent? WRC and Sand point happen to both be NOT in a floodplain. These rules are made for a reason, not for an organization of NOAA's stature and environmental impacts to disregard them.

The quotes are taken from their own internal documents.

It appears as if _some_ of the NOAA powers that be wanted a brand new pier, not using existing federal facilities, and were far too easily dismissive of using existing federal facilities, so they changed technical merit factors part way through the process to ensure they got their New Port. Not at the Duwammish waterway. Not upsetting the folks who in 1970's filed suit to prevent MOCP from berthing all ships at WRC.

Come on people, don't buy the BS rumors, read the truth. More documents will be revealed in the coming days and weeks. Get out your waders, because the BS is deep, and the memos thick.

This is far from politics, this is NOAA not wanting oversight if it exceeded the threshold, choosing a New little Port, and crafting rules and such to get it.

SimplyPut

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 10:14 a.m. Inappropriate

First and foremost, thanks to Senator Cantwell for demanding transparency and accountability from Secretary Locke and Ms. Lubchenko regarding this decision. She smells this dirty deal and is not going to let go until she understands how this absurd decision was made.

SimplyPut and Ms. Godden, thanks for continuing to support Seattle as NOAA's MOCP. Any objective measure of the facts, regardless of our Newport boosters continuous defensive posts above, leads one to conclude that keeping the boats here in Puget Sound makes solid policy and financial sense. The real flaw in the decision process was NOAA's unwillingness to develop its own facilities so as to permanently control its own costs.

Restarting this process is the ONLY way we'll be able to arrive at a solid, transparent and defensible decision. If Newport is the right Port on the merits, what's to fear, except eliminating the curtain of suspicion that now shrouds the entire process and all of the players involved in it?

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 10:26 a.m. Inappropriate

WOW--such back and forth rants. It's been my experience that when you work for any large organization--public or private, there is a perception that pleasing the boss is a good thing. However, the NOAA decision was made, it is not outside the realm of possibility that there was influence--real or imagined.

Given the IG findings, a restart with a clean slate--while taking additional time--is appropriate.

m-t-e

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 11:08 a.m. Inappropriate

m-t-e,

I doubt you have ANY conception of how much it would cost to "restart" the process ? Most of the Seattle posts here are not supported by data just crybaby rumors, unsubstantiated assertions, and uninformed biased opinions. Wah wah wah.

SimplyPut,
I don't care how much of an insider you think you are. Bottom line, it ain't your decision and I'm not without my resources either.

nptdz

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 11:23 a.m. Inappropriate

Again, if you all thought that Lake Washington or a split fleet was such a good idea, why didn't Seattle put that forth? Why wasn't it raised as an issue when NOAA put the specs together? Why wasn't the WRC put forth as an option in the competition? Why didn't Seattle even appeal the decision within the required time frame? All this is about is a Washington politician trying to override an objective contest (and remember the IG said that even without flaws identified Newport still wins the context) so as to keep this base in her state -- provincial politics to the core. If Cantwell and Seattle didn't like the terms of the competition, then they should have protested before the competition began, not after they endorsed it, entered it, and lost.

JohnQP

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 11:29 a.m. Inappropriate

Of course this process should be restarted! Why let this flawed process continue any longer? You are an attorney, and you of all people should understand that many wrongs do not make a right. NOAA disregarded it's own rules, DOC regulations, and multiple Executive Orders over the course of this entire process.

The addition of pier quality was added in May, 2009, midway between the selection process. OK, Mr Diaz? That better, I figured you had been doing your homework, and were already aware that this factor only benefited Newport... Jean Godden has not seen any of the memos that I am referencing, otherwise she would have quoted them in her original article. Perhaps your "resources" are the same NOAA_for_Newport folks who ginned up this entire "MOCP in Newport" award?

Cry me a Yaquina River, and leave out the Tsunami threats while you are at it.

SimplyPut

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 12:36 p.m. Inappropriate

JohnQP,

Please read the IG report, and all of your questions posed above will be answered. NOAA dismissed the use of existing federal facilities based on memos from the 1970's, and the fact that they did not want to be based on the Duwammish waterway. Oops, the NOAA memos in response to the IG Report are not yet available to the public, but will be very soon. Read the IG report and most of your questions will be answered.

ANd yet again, most people affected by this move, scientists, current MOCP personnel, Marine Industry support personnel, and Seattlites, did not think that Newport stood a chance. Especially since Technical Merit was to be considered above price, and all know Newport does not have necessary infrastructure. Heck, since only 2 bidders met the prospectus threshold, Newport had to win Technical Merit to be a shoe-in.

We all know now that money was said to be a primary deciding factor, and the technical merit scoring of Newport is flawed due to the addition of factors so late in the game.

Keep MOCP in Seattle!

SimplyPut

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 12:49 p.m. Inappropriate

Wow, more speculation and opinion without facts. The pier quality was far from the deciding factor in the process. So, I guess now were down to speculating about the identities of the posters to this website. I guess that's what you do when you're out of arguments. Gee, I guess Seattle felt they could just ignore the cost requirements. Why not, no one can compete with Seattle and NOAA will have no alternative but to bow down. Typical arrogant attitude.

nptdz

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 1:05 p.m. Inappropriate

Diaz,

Your firm represents Port of Newport, does it not? Seems a little biased, since Port Of Newport is trying to sell junk bonds to build the facility. Hmmm. How is PON going to fund the project if it cannot sell its bonds? And a Portland firm Wedbush is arranging the sale? So much for bringing monies to local Newport businesses.

The pier quality only benefited Newport, as it was building brand new piers, and all other bidders were modifying existing piers. While it was not the deciding factor, its bias is duly noted, and it's addition so late in the process should have been contested.

The entire process is flawed, and the IG Report clearly brings much support to the table. The IG did not identify all of the flaws, those will be identified in the coming weeks, by Cantwell in DC. Pull the plug, Maria!

Please read the entire IG Report instead of blogging around like you know what is going on.

And good luck selling those junk bonds. Maybe you can use the funds generated to subsidize the airport...

SimplyPut

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 1:16 p.m. Inappropriate

SimplyPut,

If you want everyone to believe, you why are you hiding behind a user name instead of speculating on the identity of others. Seems a little cowardly.

nptdz

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 1:23 p.m. Inappropriate

I fig'd that you'd understand why someone in my position would want to remain confidential... ;)

Speculating? Man, you're easy! Google yourself someday! The Internet is an amazing tool!

SimplyPut

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 1:44 p.m. Inappropriate

Nope, think I think it reveals your character that you are willing to try to reveal someone else's identity while hiding your own. Makes everything you say suspect. BTW, Googling doesn't tell you who's doin' the typing just who's e-mail is being used.

nptdz

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 2:12 p.m. Inappropriate

SimplyPut,

Do you really think Cantwell would be protesting any of this if Bellingham or Port Angeles had won? I think you raise some reasonable questions (as can be raised in any sort of action of this type) but isn't at the heart of Cantwell's opposition, the fact that the winner was in Oregon? For me I find it pretty hard to believe she'd be talking about splitting the fleet, or putting it on Lake Washington and just that much further from the ocean, had Bellingham won. I think she and Rick Larsen and the rest would be celebrating a tenant for the old GP site. And that's fine, but it really calls into question Cantwell's true motivations here. Agreed?

JohnQP

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 3:04 p.m. Inappropriate

JohnQP-

I cannot speak for Senator Cantwell, but believe her involvement in this whole matter was a little late in the flawed process, but better late than never. Since she is chair of the Committe that oversees NOAA, she has a vested interest to be involved, and I commend her involvement.

Thank you for acknowledging my reasonable questions.

This will all be brought to light in the coming weeks.

SimplyPut

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 3:40 p.m. Inappropriate

Guess we will see where this goes. Have to believe the Senators from Oregon will weigh in as well. Bad state of affairs to have these two good neighbors in such a fight.

JohnQP

Posted Mon, Jul 5, 10:15 p.m. Inappropriate

JohnQP,

Agreed. With Senator Cantwell holding the NOAA purse strings, one would think NOAA higher ups would want to please their Committee Chair.

Unfortunate that it went this far at all.

Here's more yet, chronologically displayed for your reading pleasure...

Department of Commerce Inspector General (DOC IG) wrote a memo to NOAA May 26, 2010, urging them to holdoff issuing its "Final Determination, Practicable Alternative Analysis" until the DOC IG report was final.

DOC IG met with NOAA and Commerce officials May 27, 2010, and following that meeting, NOAA's Chief Administrative Officer William Broglie requested a review from a Department of Commerce Senior Procurement Executive (DOC SPE).

From the DOC SPE Memo presented to NOAA June 3, 2010, requested by CAO Broglie, the DOC SPE discovered 11 major issues, 3 of which I will mention.

Issue #1, "I question the appropriateness of introducing new evaluation criteria into the acquisition post evaluation and post negotiation..." regarding Amendment 3, added to the SFO May 4, 2010.

Since only Newport was using new construction, Newport solely benefited from this addition.

Furthermore, the DOC SPE memo noted, in Issue 6, "This language appears to introduce a new evaluation subfactor which is not allowable. Proper documentation of the review conducted is essential. If this documentation is factually correct, a serious error has been made in the source evaluation process..."

Sheesh! NOAA's Parents, the Department of Commerce, also discovered serious flaws in the way NOAA handled things.

NOAA tried to dismiss the DOC SPE's findings with the following statement:

"Many of the findings and issues contained in the Senior Procurement Executive's June 3, 2010 memorandum reflect errors traceable to her deadline driven inability to review relevant documentation and interview knowledgeable persons. A more thorough understanding of the facts would produce more complete and valid conclusions. Therefore, absent the consideration of all relevant documentation and information from the cognizant parties, caution should be exercised in using the findings represented in the Senior Procurement Executive's June 3, 2010, memorandum to draw definitive statements of facts and conclusions."

And get this one, quoted from NOAA's response to the memo from Issue 11:

"The comment in the SPE's memorandum questioning why the financial analysis failed to include the "total cost" introduces a set of cost factors not defined in the SFO nor in the SSP. Inclusion of such factors, therefore, would have been inconsistent with both SFO and SSP and would have dramatically increased the risk of protest."

You better believe it! $7.3 million in relocation costs that were NOT included in the total cost? What about the fuel and personnel EVERY YEAR to get these vessels to a suitable location for their winter inports. Not included! Sheesh! Get out those waders, this move to Newport is getting costlier by the minute! Granted, that cost is somehow figured into the bid, but a high percentage of NOAA Ships are currently serviced in the Greater Puget Sound, thus costing the taxpayer less overall. And better bring the parka too, the bleep is about to hit the fan.

I just wish Lubchenco, Glackin, Hightower, and Locke had actively engaged in the simmering issue from day one, as many were trying to get them involved, and it is now approaching a boilover with Cantwell and Snowe involved. NOAA higher ups disregarded most all discussion, left it up to Barrows and Garton (NOAA WRC Realty), and from the looks of it, (L&L;) purposely avoided the process, citing conflict of interest. This "fair and transparent" process is littered with speculation, since NOAA has kept so much of it muddled and in the dark.

Once all relevant documents and emails are released, and perhaps a Congressional subpoena is issued, all will understand why I feel so strongly about this flawed process.

NOAA sure muddled this process up real good, and Newport may have gotten the short end of the stick. Again, this is in no way an attack on the people of Newport, but an attempt to expose this "flawed process" that NOAA claims is "fair and transparent."

With all due respect,
Your Washington neighbor

SimplyPut

Posted Tue, Jul 6, 8:27 a.m. Inappropriate

NOAA's responses are now posted on the Marine Operations Center- Pacific website.

SimplyPut

Posted Tue, Jul 6, 10:18 a.m. Inappropriate

Thanks for the heads up SimplyPut.

I just read through NOAA's responses to the IG and on the most critical issue in my mind I step away pretty well convinced that NOAA did a complete job of reviewing other Federal facilities and had good reasons as to why they were not either available or suitable.

On the selection competition itself, NOAA has strong answers to the vast majority of issues raised by the IG. Perfect, no there are questions of documentation and the addition of the quality of buildings and piers factor, but on the vast majority of issues that the IG questioned, NOAA has strong and to my eye convincing rebuttals. And as the IG itself stated, even without the flaws real or alleged, the award would in all likelihood have been made to Newport.

So as I look at this, once again, I see a very fine tooth comb being applied to the NOAA process, and NOAA having strong rationale and answers to those issues. And all of this is coming after the fact of the competition that all of the ports, both in Washington and Oregon, entered into knowing the lay of the land. No protests before by any of them, only after the fact when they had lost. And the issues they raise keep changing -- as if they are fishing trying to find some technicality on which they can reverse their loss.

No process is perfect, I grant that, but this one has been examined over and over again and it continues to stand up quite well in spite of the extreme (and with a politician's hat on, understandable) political pressure being placed on it.

I'm convinced it is time to move on. Newport won and to my eye NOAA has more than adequately defended its selection process.

JohnQP

Posted Tue, Jul 6, 10:37 a.m. Inappropriate

JohnQP,

You are welcome. We can agree to disagree, right, we are neighbors, and a few years from now, a Cheers is warranted.

If NOAA is being questioned by DOC SPO, attachment D, as to the legitimacy of the added subfactors so late in the game, one which has high weighting, and if it tipped the technical merit in favor of Newport from #2 to #1, then this has got to go through further inquiry. Since only 2 offerrors bid below prospectus, and if Newport had to be #1 in technical merit to win hands down, this is deeply flawed. NOAA obviously tried to keep this below prospectus to avoid this exact kind of oversight.

I am still convinced that MOCP remain in Seattle, and know that once all cards are laid on the table, MOCP will remain in Seattle, using previously existing Federal Facilities, that NOAA dismissed without merit prior to issuing their SFO.

SimplyPut

Posted Tue, Jul 6, 11:27 a.m. Inappropriate

I find it curious that NOAA did not respond to two of the key statements made by the OIG:

Issue 10 - "To date there has been no formal assessment completed of whether currect MOC-P staff will make the move to Newport and if not, what immediate and long term impacts may be anticipated on MOC-P's ability to fulfill its mission subsequent to the impending relocation." Presumably, MOC-P's staff includes vessel personnel. NOAA has be unable to fully staff these vessels while being based in the Seattle area with 3.5 million population! Does anyone think staffing in a town of 10,000 will be remotely comparable? Vessel staffing is becoming more difficult nationwide. Why add to the difficulty by basing ships in an isolated small town?

Issue 11 - "The rationale for extending the delineated geographic area down the Oregon coast to Newport, is unclear. Consistent with the OMAO e-mail, the statement of work for the MAKERS study called for a study area consisting of the greater Puget Sound area ... south to the Columbia River, including Astoria, Oregon and southeast to Portland ... This definition of the area persisted from MAKERS' initial proposal through page 1 of the final report." A change was made at the last minute to include Newport, Oregon but "NOAA and MAKERS' management were unable to provide an explanation or documentation supporting the change in study area." I can't imagine this was a clerical error. Sounds like some type of influence peddling!

paski46

Posted Tue, Jul 6, 11:38 a.m. Inappropriate

Neither a NOAA person nor a Gov'mnt employee, but a few thoughts.

You can argue all you want, but Fresh Water has proven cheaper for ships than salt water since ships have been built. PERIOD. The Army Corp and US Tax Dollars created the Seattle Waterway in 1916 (officially opened in 1917) with the idea that Fresh water access would be a good thing for Military, Commercial and Recreational marine use. Period.

It is a key reason a good amount of the Pacific fishing fleet winters here. It is the reason 40 percent of the Lake Union Shoreline is Maritime related.

I have a hard time understanding why you would relocate a maritime based organization that is ship based to a port that offers no Drydock.

Floodplain issues have already cost us in King County having to relocate our voter records. I understand that the Newport site was away from the floodplain, but it could still be a factor in getting supplies and staff to and from the site. On the other hand the Duwammish could see Tsunami and Lahar issues.

BUT for Federal dollars long term investment, WE have govment owned land that is available in several locations. Staff lives here so no relocation costs. Freshwater docks beat saltwater. We have multiple drydocks and Pacific access within 24 hours - Dredging not required. And Federal Reports limiting Access to Newport to 2 months out of the year for safe tides. Wow.

I'd say the process may have had issues to miss these key indisputable points. I call do-over.

Posted Tue, Jul 6, 7:06 p.m. Inappropriate

hacknflack-

You bring up more great points that were never considered by NOAA's SFO concerning long term costs. Perhaps they were not interested in those costs...(ref NOAA's response to DOC SPE Issue 11) NOAA was worried people would protest? Heck yes, lets begin an official protest.

However, your assessment of NOAA's memo is a little off- the memo recommends using Newport as a port during July and August, not limiting it to those months. Big point is just when NOAA gave Newport the highest technical merit, NOAA disregarded that memo as well.

Write your Senators and Congress and demand an official Congressional Review. DOC Senior Procurement Executives can't even control NOAA!

Does anyone know the official way we can request such a review?

Please share if you do, we need to keep this ball rolling, halt construction that must (seemingly) be repaid to Newport, and keep MOCP in Seattle.

SimplyPut

Posted Tue, Jul 6, 7:09 p.m. Inappropriate

To clarify, DOC SPE Issue 11 was in a post I made earlier, paski46 references a separate Issue 11.

With so many issues brought up by so many non-affiliated Govt agencies, we need to demand this is raised to a new level.

SimplyPut

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