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April 13, 2011

NOAA's top police post; no degree required

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reposted the "senior executive" position of director of federal fisheries law enforcement, after deleting the educational requirement for the leader of a $50 million department with 200 agents and intricate domestic and international responsibilities.

After the previous director, Dale Jones, was removed in a scandal, the position was posted last fall with a four-year higher education requirement. But, after a number of candidates were reportedly interviewed, NOAA chief administrator Jane Lubchenco did not make an appointment.

The reposting lists the salary range as $119,554 to $179,000.

Lubchenco, who spent two hours Wednesday before the Senate Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oceans Atmosphere Fisheries and Coast Guard explaining and defending her $5.5 billion budget request, did not respond to questions about the elimination of the educational requirement for the position.

A spokeswoman for Lubchenco said the matter was being researched and hoped to have a response today.

Previous director Jones, who holds a master's degree, was quietly shifted into another job a year ago this month following a series or reports by the Commerce Department inspector general.

The inspector general's probe documented extensive lack of financial oversight, excessive penalties and vindictive actions concentrated out of Gloucester's Northeast regional office against fishermen and waterfront businesses, and misuse of a $90 million fund built fines paid by fishermen, levied by agents and the Office of General Counsel for Litigation and Enforcement.

Inspector General Todd Zinser also testified to Congress that Jones and his senior staff engaged in a mass document shredding while the IG's teams were working through NOAA law enforcement offices in Silver Spring, Md.

Jones was not fired or downgraded, but was shifted out of law enforcement into a fisheries analyst's position, with his salary dropping from $158,500 to $155,000.

The vacant permanent position was reposted on April 4, with applications closing today.

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