Lautenbacher will face challenges as new NOAA Head



With a non-controversial confirmation hearing on November 8 before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, Jr. is gearing up to soon take over the helm at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). His nomination by the Bush administration also includes serving as undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere.

A number of sources familiar with Lautenbacher indicated that his Navy and managerial skills will be useful in these posts, as he likely will face a number of science, budget, and administrative challenges in running this $3.2-billion agency, which comprises 63% of the Commerce Department budget. These sources also sited Lautenbacher's integrity; his ability to listen to different sides of issues and to consult broadly; his connections to both the scientific and political worlds; and his persuasive ability to get things done.