Editorial: At NOAA, a crisis at the top

The word that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s strategic management has drawn scathing reviews in a new survey assessing federal worker satisfaction should come as no surprise.

By all appearances, NOAA has no meaningful national leadership since last February’s overdue exit by then-administrator Jane Lubchenco, whose willful destruction of the fishing industry through her catch share policies and other actions helped plunge New England’s diminishing fleet and the Northeast groundfishing industry into the economic disaster that even her own Department of Commerce recognized in September 2012.

But while we’d all like to think these in-house employee survey grades — the fifth straight year NOAA’s workplace satisfaction ratings have declined — might bring some changes for the many good and dedicated employees the agency truly has, no one should hold his or her breath.

That’s based on the statement last week by NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen — who responded to word of the survey results by citing NOAA’s “unique and diverse” mission, and suggested that the agency’s current course is just fine. “We strive to put mission first and people always, and are constantly looking for ways to improve opportunities for our workforce,” he said.

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