Last updated: 27 August 2014

Teleconference Call

Participants: Mike Spranger (Chair), Jan van Smirren, Terry McPherson, Jerry Boatman, Ray Toll, Barb Kirkpatrick, Landry Bernard, Sara Graves, Josie Quintrell, Sharon Walker, Ann Jochens (GCOOS-RA Staff), and Pat Roscigno (liaison from GCOOS-RA Board of Directors).


  1. Welcome and Introductions. Each member provided a brief introduction to their past activities and experience in government relation type activities. GRTT Members have varied, diverse backgrounds that include military service, work with federal agencies (NASA, NOAA, NSF), academia, and the private sector. Most have has some experience in working with members of their congressional representatives and/or have provided materials/reports to them on various topics. Many have also met with elected officials and/or their staffs in Washington DC. Nine GRTT members are current or past members of the GCOOS-RA Board. Most have been involved on various GCOOS committees.
  2. General background of GCOOS-RA. All were aware of the GCOOS-RA and its functions. Ray Toll asked what new has occurred over past 6-12 months. Ann Jochens mentioned we had several new task teams that have been formed to address various topics (namely, Modeling, Gulf/National Glider, Government Relations).
  3. Charge of the Task Team. Mike Spranger reviewed terms of reference. He emphasized the role was to only undertake outreach activities, and that we were not to engage in lobbying or advocacy activities when dealing with our elected officials. Josie Quintrell reinforced this idea; we cannot “ask” for specific budget items in support of the IOOS. Also, each GRTT member should be aware of their employer’s policy regarding the contact of federal elected officials. If you are a federal employee, you cannot contact elected officials. If you are a state employee, the rules may vary; similarly there may be policies if you work for the private sector. Josie did indicate several of the RAs have a designated person that had the ability to “lobby” their elected officials.
    Landry Bernard asked if the role of the GRTT was just to reach out to elected officials. He pointed out there was opportunity in the recent past to provide comments to several federal plans (NOAA’s 5-Year Research Plan, NSF Ocean Initiative). Gulf of Mexico interests were missing or under-represented in these documents. The GRTT felt there were several roles they could take in this regard: (1) alert GCOOS-RA Board of federal/regional plans on which public comment from GCOOS might be useful, (2) serve as a group that could provide comments/feedback on such plans.
    Jerry Boatman pointed out that our biggest impact might be through regional and local congressional offices. He has had success in showing the impacts of IOOS activities in saving life, reducing property loss and saving money. Ray Toll mentioned a recent one-pager that documented the positive impact IOOS assets/modeling had in assisting local decision-makers with Super storm Sandy. Josie Quintrell indicated the IOOS Association was using this document as a springboard to build a national initiative for readiness for extreme events. GRTT members felt we needed to find ways to get local congressional offices involved and/or better informed about GCOOS activities.
    Josie Quintrell mentioned the need for continuing contact with congressional offices-not just once a year. Others echoed her comments. She also provided a list of key legislators and the committees they were on. She indicated the President would be releasing his budget in March. There would be opportunity to travel to DC in April to contact congressional offices. Last week, due to schedule and illness, there were no GCOOS representatives during the IOOS Association Hill visits; it is important that key legislators be contacted and informed regarding IOOS activities and needs. The FY13 and FY14 budgets are critical to continuation of the RAs.
  4. Past GCOOS activities in area of Government Relations. GCOOS members have been involved in past congressional visits with the National Federation of Regional Associations (now called the IOOS Association). The GCOOS-RA has members on the IOOS Association Board. Ann Jochens pointed out we also have a general one-pager on GCOOS as well as one-pagers specific to each state. We have not drilled down to one-pagers that might relate to congressional member districts.
    Ann Jochens suggested the need to find ways to have Members of the GCOOS-RA (particularly those from private sector) contact their congress representatives (in DC or their local offices) regarding the value and importance of GCOOS. Terry McPherson suggested we set up a schedule where 3-4 times a year, a member of GCOOS would meet with local congressional staff to provide update on GCOOS activities. Mike Spranger suggested we invite members of local congressional staff to our meetings, especially when we have reports that show positive impacts of our work.
  5. Review/provide any past materials developed. We did not have any materials to review. However, this could be a function of the GRTT in the future.
  6. Any critical needs and dates for time/materials from committee. Josie Quintrell indicated the desirability that a group from the GCOOS-RA visit Capitol Hill in April, following the release of the President’s budget. There are key Senators and Congressional representatives from the Gulf that should be contacted about the need for continued support for the positive aspects of the IOOS.
  7. Action Items.
    1. Recommend to the GCOOS-RA Board that several members conduct DC Hill visits in April (following release of President’s budget) to key congressional offices.
    2. GRTT members should look for public comment periods for federal documents where a GCOOS and Gulf of Mexico presence is needed. We can inform the GCOOS-RA Board as well as identify areas where we may provide critical comment and review.
    3. GRTT identify Members of the GCOOS-RA that might be interested in conducting quarterly visits/contacts with their local congressional offices.
    4. GRTT identify areas where we can show GCOOS impacts as a result of our assets/modeling/data portal.
    5. Ray Toll indicated he would volunteer to write a short piece on Super storm Sandy and positive impacts of IOOS assets for the GCOOS newsletter.
    6. The GCOOS-RA Board should consider inviting congressional staffers from local offices to GCOOS-RA meetings being held in their area. They also should look for opportunities to provide reports that document for those staffers positive GCOOS impacts to local areas.


  8. Adjournment. Mike Spranger concluded the meeting. He thanked all for providing their time to the meeting. He said we had a diverse group with much experience to help GCOOS in government relation activities. He saw the GRTT functioning in an ad hoc fashion, with periodic teleconference calls. He indicated he would be back in touch with group following the Board of Directors meeting that will be held March 13-14 in New Orleans.