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Request discussion: NASA Scientists and DOC Office of Inspector Gener al

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  • npat1
    ... Feb 17, 2006 Dr. James E. Hansen Columbia University 750 Armstrong Hall 2880 Broadway New York, NY 10025 USA Dear Dr. Hansen: In my previous email to you
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 2, 2006
      --------- Forwarded message ----------
      Feb 17, 2006

      Dr. James E. Hansen
      Columbia University
      750 Armstrong Hall
      2880 Broadway
      New York, NY 10025 USA

      Dear Dr. Hansen:

      In my previous email to you on Feb 2, 2006, text and 3 attachments below, I showed that I requested the DOC Office of Inspector General, in a letter dated Jan 31, 2006 (Attachment 1), to "pursue further", matters of concern which I alleged in whistle blowing to the Office of Special Council (OSC) in year 2000, on activities of NOAA NWS.

      As stated in an earlier letter which I received from OSC (Jan 16, 2001, Attachment 2), Re: PSC File No. DI-00-2100,

      "The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has completed its review of the information you referred to the Disclosure Unit. You alleged a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety and gross mismanagement by officials at the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Weather Service (NWS), North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC), Chanhassen, Minnesota."
      ...
      "Based upon the information before us, we have concluded there is
      insufficient evidence that management's actions created an adverse
      impact upon the agency's ability to accomplish its mission. Your
      disagreements with management over what NWS' role is with respect to
      global warming constitute a debate over policy and scientific research,
      rather than gross mismanagement as defined by the Board. Therefore,
      we can take no further action regarding your allegations.

      Should you wish to pursue this matter further, you may contact the
      Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General, 14th and
      Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20230; telephone number
      (202) 482-2495; hotline (800) 482 5197."
      ---

      In my Jan 31, 2006 letter to the DOC Office of Inspector General, I wrote:

      "I learned recently that the mission statement for NASA includes "to understand and protect our home planet". In knowing that, I believe that my concerns about hydrologic climate change in the Upper Midwest and about global warming, which were identified in OSC File No. DI-00-2100, need to be discussed with scientists in NASA in order to gain a full understanding of the state of the science in Dec 2000, Jan 2001; and currently. For that reason, I request that the matters described at the beginning of this letter be pursued further."
      ---

      As shown in, Chronology on my Career in flood prediction and hydrologic change in the Upper Midwest, attachment 3 k): On 15 July 2005 I was given a "Decision to Remove memorandum from federal service by NWS Central Region, ... I am unable to discuss the terms involved by which I was allowed to continue to be considered a NWS employee until my 15 Feb 2006 expected retirement date."
      ---

      I believe that I am now viewed as officially retired on Feb 15, 2006, having served 30 years as a federal employee for NOAA NWS in river forecasting for the Upper Midwest.

      At this time, I would like to find out if anyone from the DOC Office of Inspector General has contacted you or your agency on this matter. If you are able to provide me with an answer on this, or an answer on how I might be able to find information regarding communications between between NOAA and NASA on this matter of concern to me, please let me know.

      Sincerely,

      Patrick J Neuman

      ------- Previous message ---------

      Feb 2, 2006

      Dr. James E. Hansen
      Columbia University
      750 Armstrong Hall
      2880 Broadway
      New York, NY 10025 USA

      Dear Dr. Hansen:

      I phoned your office this morning, and was told to send an email to you on this. I work for the National Weather Service North Central River Forecast Center in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

      In a letter I sent to the DOC Office of Inspector General 31 Jan 2006 (attachment 1),

      I wrote:

      {I learned recently that the mission statement for NASA includes to understand and to protect our home planet. In knowing that, I believe that my concerns about hydrologic climate change in the Upper Midwest and about global warming, which were identified in OSC File No. DI-00-2100, need to be discussed with scientists in NASA in order to gain a full understanding of the state of the science in Dec 2000, Jan 2001; and currently.
      For that reason, I request that the matters described at the beginning of this letter be pursued further.}

      My letter to the Office of Inspector General explains that I received a 16 Jan 2001 letter (attachment 2) from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Attorney Ms. Tracy L. Biggs,

      who stated:

      ... "You alleged a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety and gross mismanagement by officials at the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Weather Service (NWS), North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC), Chanhassen, Minnesota". ... "Specifically, you allege that NWS is not handling the issue of global warming in a way that best serves the interest of the public". �

      Ms. Biggs later stated:

      Because of OSC's narrow statutory focus, we do not believe that the
      issues of global warming, unresolved as they are, fall within our criteria for a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. For this reason, we cannot take any further action on this matter.



      Should you wish to pursue this matter further, you may contact the
      Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General, 14th and
      Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20230; telephone number
      (202) 482-2495; hotline (800) 482 5197.


      I disagreed with the above decision by OSC in 2001. I was not intending to respond to the decision in 2001. However, after reading an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune a week or two ago that NASA�s mission includes to understand and protect our home planet, I felt it my duty to pursue this matter further now, to insure that NOAA�s NWS begin steps to include climate/hydrologic change in their models and operational hydrologic forecasts.

      A chronology on my career is included in attachment 3.

      For reasons described above, I request that the matters involved in the 16 Jan 2001 decision by OSC be pursued further, within the DOC Office of Inspector General, and to include as part of that effort, discussions with NASA scientists involved in the study of global warming.

      Sincerely,

      Patrick J. Neuman
      740 Chippewa Circle
      Chanhassen, MN 55317
      home phone: 952 906 2824 :
      home email address: npat1@...


      ------------ Attachment 1 -----------

      Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General
      14 th and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
      Washington, D.C. 482-5197

      January 31, 2006

      Subject: Re: OSC File No. DI-00-2100

      I received a letter (same subject) dated January 16, 2001 from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Washington, D. C. In the letter, OSC Attorney Tracy L. Biggs stated:

      ... "You alleged a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety and gross mismanagement by officials at the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Weather Service (NWS), North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC), Chanhassen, Minnesota".

      ... "Specifically, you allege that NWS is not handling the issue of global warming in a way that best serves the interest of the public".
      ...
      "The study of global warming is an important scientific area that has generated conflicting opinions and research. Based on the information provided, NOAA is well aware of this issue and supports research into global warming as well as other areas of climate research. �

      � �Therefore, we can take no further action regarding your allegations.�

      �Should you wish to pursue this matter further, you may contact the Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General." �

      I learned recently that the mission statement for NASA includes "to understand and protect our home planet". In knowing that, I believe that my concerns about hydrologic climate change in the Upper Midwest and about global warming, which were identified in OSC File No. DI-00-2100, need to be discussed with scientists in NASA in order to gain a full understanding of the state of the science in Dec 2000, Jan 2001; and currently.

      For that reason, I request that the matters described at the beginning of this letter be pursued further.

      Sincerely,

      Patrick J. Neuman
      740 Chippewa Circle
      Chanhassen, MN 55317
      home phone: 952 906 2824 : home email address: npat1@...


      ------------ Attachment 2 -----------

      U.S. Office of Special Counsel
      1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 300
      Washington, D.C. 20036-4505

      January 16, 2001

      Mr. Patrick Neuman
      740 Chippewa Circle
      Chanhassen, MN 55317

      Re: PSC File No. DI-00-2100

      Dear Mr. Neuman

      The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has completed its review of the
      information you referred to the Disclosure Unit. You alleged a
      substantial and specific danger to public health and safety and gross
      mismanagement by officials at the Department of Commerce, National
      Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Weather Service
      (NWS), North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC), Chanhassen,
      Minnesota.

      OSC is authorized by law to refer protected disclosures to the
      involved agency for an investigation and report. Disclosures OSC may
      refer for investigation must include information that establishes a
      substantial likelihood of law, rule, or regulation, or gross
      mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a
      substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

      Specifically, you allege that the NWS is not handling the issue of
      global warming in a way that best serves the interest of the public.
      You believe that NWS does not communicate the urgency of the problem
      and the potential dangers of global warming to the public. In particular, you contend that given NOAA's February press release on the possible acceleration of global warming, it is important and appropriate for you to incorporate its effects into your work at NWS.

      For the past twenty years, you have been responsible for the
      preparation of the Upper Midwest Spring Snowmelt Flood Outlooks. You
      informed this office that you believe the study of global warming and
      its implication for climate model development, calibration of river
      basins, spring flood outlooks, and NWS products provided to the public,
      is essential to your position as Senior Hydrologist. Thus, you included
      information about global warming and its attendant effects in your
      outlook for this year's spring flooding and have requested that the
      issue be addressed more broadly by the agency.

      Your supervisors disagree with you about the extent to which global
      warming should be a part of your forecasting and other job
      responsibilities. As a result, the language regarding global warming
      was deleted from your spring flood outlook. You believe that the failure of the agency to integrate fully global warming information into its mission constitutes a danger to public health and safety.

      At the outset, we must emphasize that the Special Counsel lacks the
      authority to review the mission of an agency and determine whether the
      mission should be changed. OSC cannot enter into a policy debate
      regarding the scientific research on global warming and what NWS'
      response should be to that issue. Our focus, instead, is limited to
      whether your disclosures regarding the NWS' actions fall within our
      statutory criteria.

      The study of global warming is an important scientific area that has
      generated conflicting opinions and research. Based on the information
      provided, NOAA is well aware of this issue and supports research into
      global warming as well as other areas of climate research. How and when
      a federal agency, such as NWS, incorporates new scientific information
      into its mission is a matter of agency policy and discretion. In contrast, OSC's focus is on working conditions and or incidents at federal facilities that result in an imminent threat to the federal workforce or the public. Because of OSC's narrow statutory focus, we do not believe that the issues of global warming, unresolved as they are, fall within our criteria for a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. For this reason, we cannot take any further action on this matter.

      We also reviewed your allegations as possible gross mismanagement.
      The Merit Systems Protection Board (the Board) has set a high threshold
      for the kinds of allegations of mismanagement that constitute "gross
      mismanagement." It has held that "gross mismanagement" is a
      "management action or inaction which creates a substantial risk of
      Significant adverse impact upon the agency's ability to accomplish
      it mission." Nafus v. Army, 57 M.S.P.R. 386, 395 (1993).

      The allegations in this case appear to involve managerial decisions
      that you believe are unreasonable and not in the public interest. In
      order for the OSC to refer such allegations to the agency head for
      investigation, we soul have to find that the information that you
      reasonably believe evidences gross mismanagement also meets the
      definition established by the Board. OSC must base its determination on
      several factors, including but not limited to, whether or not the
      information disclosed has a serious, negative impact on the mission of
      the agency.

      In this case, we cannot make such a finding, because the allegations
      do not meet the high threshold set by the Board for gross mismanagement. Rather, this situation appears to be a disagreement between you and the agency over whether or not to incorporate global warming into NWS' mission and what portion of your professional duties should involve global warming activities. Further, we cannot say that NWS' decision to base its forecasting on historical data is gross mismanagement. Rather, the basis for NWS' methodology, the manner in which the agency changes its methodology and models of forecasting, and when that change occurs are all matters of agency discretion.

      Based upon the information before us, we have concluded there is
      insufficient evidence that management's actions created an adverse
      impact upon the agency's ability to accomplish its mission. Your
      disagreements with management over what NWS' role is with respect to
      global warming constitute a debate over policy and scientific research,
      rather than gross mismanagement as defined by the Board. Therefore,
      we can take no further action regarding your allegations.

      Should you wish to pursue this matter further, you may contact the
      Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General, 14th and
      Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20230; telephone number
      (202) 482-2495; hotline (800) 482 5197.

      You have also alleged that you have been subjected to prohibited
      personnel practices at NWS including suspension and the denial of sick
      leave. Those allegations are being reviewed by OSC's Complaints
      Examining Unit and you will be contacted about them separately. For
      your future reference, the reference number is OSC File No. MA-00-2138.

      Accordingly, we are closing our file on this matter. As required by
      law, we are returning a copy of your correspondence to you. 5 U.S.C. $
      1212(g)(3). Should you wish to discuss this matter, please contact me
      at (202) 653-6005.

      Sincerely,
      Tracy L. Biggs
      Attorney
      LMD:CAM:TLB/tlb
      Enclosure

      ------------ Attachment 3 -----------

      2. Additional background information
      1. Chronology

      Career in flood prediction and hydrologic change in the Upper Midwest
      by Patrick J. Neuman, Hydrologist, Chanhassen, MN, 2 Feb 2006

      I will be retiring with 30 years of federal service on 15 Feb 2006. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1975 with a MS in Water Resources Management, I accepted a position with NWS Kansas City River Forecast Center in 1976. In 1979, I was promoted to lead hydrologist for a new river forecast office in Minnesota, now called the North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC) in Chanhassen. I was a lead hydrologist at NCRFC in snow, water supply and ice from 1979-2000. My primary task involved issuing annual spring snowmelt flood outlooks for the Upper Midwest.


      1. Chronology

      1976: began career in flood prediction with National Weather Service (NWS) River Forecast Center (RFC), NWS Central Region RFC located in Kansas City, MO.

      1979: accepted new position in new office in MN, to provide accurate and timely flood predictions within the Upper Midwest, office now called NWS North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC).

      1979 record flood predictions - Red River basin, including Grand Forks, ND

      1979 promoted to lead hydrologist specialist, Snow, Water Supply and Ice

      1986 record flood predictions - Saginaw River basin, MI

      1993 record flood predictions - Midwest summer flood

      1997 record flood predictions - Red River River basin, Minnesota tributaries

      1999 record flood prediction - Devils Lake at Devils Lake, ND

      2000 suspensions (2): for work related to climate and hydrologic change

      2001 flood predictions - 2nd highest of record, Upper Mississippi River

      2001 suspension: for work related to climate/hydrologic change, Upper Midwest

      2001 record flood prediction - Devils Lake at Devils Lake, ND

      2002 flood predictions - 2nd highest of record, Illinois River basin

      2003 record flood prediction - Devils Lake at Devils Lake, ND

      2004 suspension: for 30 Oct 2003 Press Release on climate/hydrologic change

      2004 record flood predictions - Des Plaines River, IL

      2005 flood predictions - Illinois River basin (January floods)

      2005 given a Decision to Remove memorandum from federal service by NWS

      2. Additional background information

      a) January 26, 2000, gave presentation at spring flood outlook inter-agency meeting in St. Paul, MN, ending presentation by repeating statement by then director of NOAA, Dr. James Baker, "The world continues to get warmer. There is no question we are seeing global warming."

      b) March 30, 2000, proposal to suspend by supervisor, Dean T. Braatz, NCRFC Hydrologist in Charge, excerpt: ... "I reminded you that the mission of the NCRFC was operational in nature, meaning that Global Warming was beyond the time window of our hydrologic forecast mission." ...

      c) April 24, 2000, Decision to Suspend (5-day) by John A. May, NWS Central Region acting director, excerpt: ... "you are not an expert nor are you tasked with such work in the application of climate change theory to the river forecast and water resources services of the ... NCRFC". ... "Any further misconduct similar to that described above will not be tolerated and would serve as just cause to initiate more serious disciplinary action, up to and including removal". ...

      d) August 15, 2000, letter by John E. Jones Jr., Deputy Director of NWS, excerpt: "I am denying your Step 2 grievance as lacking merit" ...

      e) October 2, 2000, letter by John J. Kelly, Jr., director of NWS, excerpt: ... "I agree with Mr. Jones' judgment that your acts of misconduct are serious offenses, and therefore deny your grievance as lacking merit."

      f) October 23, 2000, Decision to Suspend (7-Day) by Dennis H. McCarthy, Director of NWS Central Region, excerpt: ... "You indicated that you felt that disciplinary action was not warranted because your concerns and requests regarding global warming were disregarded by management." ... "The fact that management had not responded to your "serious concerns"... and that you were experiencing frustration regarding global warming is not an excuse for your outburst to management's simple request for information for which you were accountable."

      g) May 9, 2001, Decision to Suspend (7-Day) by Dennis H. McCarthy, Director of NWS Central Region, excerpt: ... "The message" ... "which
      contained text identifying you in your official capacity, included your personal belief on the effects of atmospheric warming on the hydrologic cycle on the Red River," ...

      h) March 4, 2004, Decision to Suspend (14-Day) by Dennis H. McCarthy, Director of NWS Central Region, excerpt: ... "You were on clear notice from your supervisor" ... "that you did not have permission to provide a statement to U.S. Newswire" ... [Statement to U.S. Newswire was an Oct. 30, 2003 Press Release, "Senior Scientist: Rapid Global Warming is Happening Now".

      i) June 28, 2004, letter, David L. Johnson, director of NWS, excerpt: ... "It is not necessary for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NWS management to reach agreement with employees on climate change priorities or policies." ...

      k) 15 July 2005 given a Decision to Remove memorandum from federal service by NWS Central Region, Michael Looney in presence of my current supervisor, Daniel R. Luna, NCRFC Hydrologist in Charge, Chanhassen, MN. I am unable to discuss the terms ...
      end


      Jack,

      I should have said I don't think I have anything else going on besides what I sent you. I may be wrong about that. See the letter and attachment which I sent to Dr. James E. Hansen (NASA) earlier this month.

      Also earlier this month, I forward the letters and attachments which I sent to Dr. Hansen below, to Andrew Revkin, NY Times, Chris Mooney and Paul Thacker. Chris Mooney has told me he won't be dealing with this. I don't know yet for sure about whether or not Revkin or Thacker will be dealing with any of this. Thacker said he would get back to me next week. I have a lot more that he could work with if he wanted to.

      This link shows some of an article that Thacker did last summer:
      http://cleveland.indymedia.org/news/2003/11/7204_comment.php#18954

      Blowing the whistle on climate change: Interview with Rick Piltz
      by pat neuman Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006 at 9:17 AM
      npat1@...

      Also see this:
      Blowing the whistle on climate change: Interview with Rick Piltz, June 22, 2005, Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T), by Paul D. Thacker

      Excerpts

      For 10 years, Rick Piltz worked for the U.S. federal program that coordinates global climate change research for NASA, the U.S. EPA, the National Science
      Foundation, and other federal agencies. ...

      But earlier this year, Piltz�tired of climate change science being misused and abused�quit his job and started talking to the press. ...

      In this interview with ES&T, Piltz talks about the White House�s suppression of science and the National Assessment, the failure of journalists to cover the
      science of climate change, ...
      ...

      Rick Piltz: The most recent edition of the Our Changing Planet report to Congress had content pulled out solely because it could cause embarrassment for the White House during last year�s election.
      ...

      Rick Piltz: People don�t want to have problems with their bosses; people don�t want to have problems with their budgets. It�s something that almost works by
      osmosis. Everybody knows it but doesn�t talk about it.

      Paul Thacker: What could happen to people for speaking up or talking to the press?

      Rick Piltz: ... They�re concerned that if they are seen as a dissident . . . it�s career-limiting. And people who are like that never even make it into these positions; they get weeded out earlier in their careers. ...

      http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/esthag-w/2005/jun/policy/pt_piltz.html
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