Posts Tagged With: Admiral Manson Brown

NOAA and The Public Good

NOAA and The General Welfare of America

NOAA and The Public Good

Can NOAA pay industry to fill its weather data gap?

Money makes the world go round ( A dollar, a yen, a buck, or a pound) while weather forecasts help keep the world safe.

So should weather data be the property of those who collect it, thereby incentivizing industry to collect more and better data in innovative ways? Or is it a public good, collected and distributed freely by governments?

(Manson Brown, Vice Admiral, USCG (Ret.), Deputy Administrator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA))

At a July 14 hearing of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Environment Subcommittee, Manson Brown, Deputy Administrator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), discussed the promise of private-sector involvement and the treaty obligations that hold weather data to be a public good, distributed free of charge.

NOAA is far from self-sufficient when it comes to the data streams that make weather forecasts possible. The agency could face a gap in satellite data coverage from October 2016 through September 2017 — a gap that Congress hopes the private sector can help fill.

Standards coming

Brown said NOAA plans to issue a commercial satellite data policy and standards later this year, though he could not specify when.

“I am driving toward this year, very aggressively,” Brown said of the forthcoming policy, which “will really signal to the industry [NOAA’s] interest” in harnessing private-sector satellite capabilities for data collection.

He also promised that the “living” policy would be amended based on industry feedback.

Brown pointed to the 2015 NOAA Satellite Conference, at which hundreds of private-sector leaders engaged with NOAA on data standards, as hard evidence of the agency’s interest in commercial data. He also embraced the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2015, which passed the House in May and would require NOAA to implement a data collection pilot program with a private-sector partner by October 2016.

But he did not have a firm answer on the profitability of such a venture.

Who gets paid what?

Brown used the phrase “learn forward” several times to describe the process of working out public/private weather data-collection partnerships.

“Let’s see if we can get the technology and the feeds and the architecture right” first, he said, adding that the business arrangements would be a separate discussion.

Environment Subcommittee Chairman Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) lamented the fragile state of America’s satellite infrastructure and touted the benefits of private-sector involvement. “This data policy is critically important for creating the markets that actually drive innovation,” he said.

He made the comparison to his late-night cravings for cheeseburgers, which the private sector satisfies.

“If food was to be declared a global, public good and therefore necessary to be given away for free, that cheeseburger would not have been available to me,” Bridenstine said. “That cheeseburger was available because…the shareholders of [McDonald’s] were interested in making a profit.”

The analogy addressed the central question in Brown’s testimony: “What is environmental data? Is it intellectual property, or is it a public good?”

“We think it’s a public good,” Brown said, though he added that there could be a hybrid model in which data is treated as a public good while companies preserve some property rights.

Could NOAA buy private-sector data and then distribute it freely?

“The problem with that, as I understand on the industry side, [is] there’s no business model that supports that,” Brown said. “That’s sort of where we get stuck.”

Worldwide sharing benefits NOAA

NOAA does not share its weather data with other nations solely for altruistic reasons. “For every byte we put in, we get three bytes back,” Brown said.

Under the World Meteorological Organization’s Resolution 40, the U.S is obligated to freely share “essential” weather data with the rest of the organization. The other 184 WMO countries also share their data, netting the U.S. that three-to-one return.

“We share United States data freely and openly so that we can receive data freely and openly from our international partners,” Brown said, noting that NOAA provides only three of the eight primary global forecasting satellites.

Such unrestricted data access is “the foundation of the current billion-dollar weather industry,” said Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.). “The current government-owned, commercially operated structure has served us well.”

And yet NOAA still spends some $20 million annually to buy weather data that falls outside WMO’s “essential” classification, Brown said.

Lightning data, which helps scientists learn more about severe weather events, and ocean color data, which helps with the tracking of algal blooms, are two types of valuable but arguably non-essential data that NOAA buys, and it does so on a proprietary basis, Brown said.

NOAA can dodge WMO sharing requirements because the data informs local and regional, not global, forecasting, he added.

Bridenstine voiced concerns about the first Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series, which might be delayed from its planned March 2016 launch date. In addition, the Joint Polar Satellite System-1 is slated for a March 2017 launch but has been plagued by delays and cost overruns.

Decrying the unprecedented weather data gap those delays could produce, Bridenstine once again championed the role of industry.

“NOAA does in fact already purchase weather data from commercial entities. Why not space-based weather data as well?” he asked, adding that “a competitive, commercial market for weather data could drive innovation, reduce costs and increase the quantity and quality of data.”

About the Author

Zach Noble is a staff writer covering cloud, big data and workforce issues. Connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.

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Coast Guard Headquarters Building To Be Named The Manson Brown Building

New Coast Guard Headquarters, Almost Heaven, Will Be The Manson Brown Building.


The New Coast Guard Headquarters is Striking, Surprising, and Sustainable.


The new, state-of-the-art U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters on the site of historic St. Elizabeths Hospital is a dream come true. The U S Coast Guard has finally found itself a home worthy of its own lofty opinion of itself. It is not Heaven, but it is as close as one could possibly hope to get in this world. The Building does not yet have a name worthy of the traditions of the United States Coast Guard. I submit that the building will be named the Manson Brown Building. That would be all together fitting and proper.



(Manson K. Brown is now the Assistant Secretary for Environmental Observation and Prediction, Department of Commerce)

Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown, has been confirmed as the  Assistant Secretary for Environmental Observation and Prediction, Department of Commerce.

VADM Brown is responsible for providing policy direction for NOAA’s satellite, space weather, water, and ocean observations and forecast programs.

VADM Brown retired from the Coast Guard in May as the highest-ranking Black officer in the service’s history.

As assistant secretary, Brown reports to NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, who received Senate confirmation in March following a year long stint as both NOAA’s acting administrator and associate administrator for environmental observation and prediction.


VADM Brown is the one person most responsible for the Coast Guard being where it is. But for him the Coast Guard would still be at Buzzard Point.

With the exception of the Coast Guard Headquarters building that opened in 2013, most of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) site remains entirely undeveloped. The present estimated completion date of 2026 is being reconsidered with a view towards 2030, or later; and, possibly even never.

 Vice Admiral Manson Brown saved the Coast Guard and the brought about the relocation of Coast Guard Headquarters. This was his last major project in the years before he retired. Now, DHS, may wish their agency had a man like Manson K. Brown.

 In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the George W. Bush administration called for a new, centralized headquarters to strengthen the DHS’s ability to coordinate the fight against terrorism and respond to natural disasters. More than 50 historic buildings would be renovated and new ones erected on the grounds of St. Elizabeths, a onetime insane asylum with a panoramic view of the District.

ice Adm. Manson K. Brown, the deputy commandant for mission support, and Master Chief Petty Officer Richard Hooker tour the construction site of the newly constructed Coast Guard Headquarters here June 28, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Tamargo – See more at:

Vice Adm. Manson K. Brown, the deputy commandant for mission support, and Master Chief Petty Officer Richard Hooker tour the construction site of the newly constructed Coast Guard Headquarters here June 28, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Tamargo

– See more at:

The entire complex was to be finished as early as 2014, at a cost of less than $3 billion, according to the initial plan.

Instead, with the exception of a Coast Guard building that opened in 2013, the grounds remain entirely undeveloped, with the occasional deer grazing amid the vacant Gothic Revival-style structures. The budget has ballooned to $4.5 billion, with completion pushed back to 2026. Even now, as Obama administration officials make the best of their limited funding, they have started design work for a second building that congressional aides and others familiar with the project say may never open.

ice Adm. Manson K. Brown, the deputy commandant for mission support, and Master Chief Petty Officer Richard Hooker tour the construction site of the newly constructed Coast Guard Headquarters here June 28, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Tamargo – See more at:

(Above VADM Manson K. Brown, Deputy Commandant for Mission Support, and Master Chief Richard Hooker tour the construction site for the new Coast Guard Headquarters on June 28, 2012.)

(U. S. Coast Guard photo by Coast Guard Petty Officer  2nd Class Timothy Tamargo)

VADM Brown retired on May 14, 2014 as Deputy Commandant for Mission Support and Commander of Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington,DC. Perhaps if he could have been persuaded to stay around for a few more years he could have overseen the transition and move of the DHS Headquarters to the new site. But, they would probably have had to make him Commandant of the Coast Guard to do that.

Instead, on behalf of a grateful Nation, and the entire Coast Guard we wished him fair skies, favorable winds and following seas in his well deserved retirement.

And, so at the rate that Congress is approving funding for the project, even the revised completion date of 2026 is unrealistic, and some lawmakers are urging that plans for such an ambitious headquarters complex be scrapped.

 Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown served as Deputy Commandant for Mission Support for the U.S. Coast Guard from 2012 to 2014. He served as Commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area in California from 2010 to 2012 and as Commander of Coast Guard District 14 in Hawaii from 2008 to 2010. Vice Admiral Brown’s previous tours of duty include Assistant Engineering Officer aboard the icebreaker “Glacier” and command of Coast Guard Sector Honolulu and Group Charleston. In 2006, he assumed command of the Maintenance & Logistics Command Pacific of the Coast Guard, where he had previously served as Assistant Chief of the Civil Engineering Division. In 2004, he served as Senior Advisor for Transportation to Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, Iraq. In 2003, Vice Admiral Brown served as the Chief of Officer Personnel Management at the Coast Guard Personnel Command. From 1999 to 2002, he was the Military Assistant to the Secretary of Transportation. He received a B.S. from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, an M.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an M.S. from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.


I was not always a fan of the Coast Guards moving to this location. But, after having gone to the building and having seen with my own eyes the wonderful new state of thearts facility, I have to admit that I may have been wrong.


Lately, I have been having a recurring dream. It is a dream deep rooted in Coast Guard traditions and American history. It is a dream that the new Coast Guard Headquarters building will be named the Manson Brown Building. This has not yet become a reality, but I believe that it will. God in his infinite wisdom and the Fates have decided, and I am declaring it.When right minded people wake up and reasonable people come to their senses, they will realize the truth of my words. And they will demand that the new Coast Guard Headquarters Building be named the Manson Brown Building.

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