October 2008 – VADM Conrad Lautenbacher



VADM Conrad Lautenbacher was appointed undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere on Dec. 19, 2001. Along with the title comes the added distinction of serving as the eighth administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. VADM Lautenbacher addressed members of the Science Diplomats Club on Thursday, October 9th, 2008.


lautenbacher-2.bmpA native of Philadelphia, Pa., retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., is serving as the undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. He was appointed Dec. 19, 2001. Along with this title comes the added distinction of serving as the eighth administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He holds an M.S. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in applied mathematics. Lautenbacher oversees the day-to-day functions of NOAA, as well as laying out its strategic and operational future. The agency manages an annual budget of $4 billion. The agency includes, and is comprised of, the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Services ; National Marine Fisheries Service ; National Ocean Service ; National Weather Service ; Oceanic and Atmospheric Research ; Marine and Aviation Operations ; and the NOAA Corps, the nation’s seventh uniformed service. He directed an extensive review and reorganization of the NOAA corporate structure to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st century. As the NOAA administrator, Lautenbacher spearheaded the first-ever Earth Observation Summit, which hosted ministerial-level representation from several dozen of the world’s nations in Washington July 2003. Through subsequent international summits and working groups, he worked to encourage world scientific and policy leaders to work toward a common goal of building a sustained Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) that would collect and disseminate data, information and models to stakeholders and decision makers for the benefit of all nations individually and the world community collectively. The effort culminated in an agreement for a 10-year implementation plan for GEOSS reached by the 55 member countries of the Group on Earth Observations at the Third Observation Summit held in Brussels February 2005. Lautenbacher was selected to serve as co-chair to the Group on Earth Observations at GEO-I in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2005. He also has headed numerous delegations at international governmental summits and conferences around the world, including the U.S. delegation to the first and second Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ocean Ministerial Meetings in Korea 2002 and Indonesia 2005, and the annual meetings of the World Meteorological Organization, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as leading the Commerce delegation to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa. Before joining NOAA, Lautenbacher formed his own management consultant business, and worked principally for Technology, Strategies & Alliances Inc. He was president and CEO of the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE). This not-for-profit organization has a membership of 76 institutions of higher learning and a mission to increase basic knowledge and public support across the spectrum of ocean sciences. Lautenbacher is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (Class of 1964), and has won accolades for his performance in a broad range of operational, command and staff positions both ashore and afloat. He retired after 40 years of service in the Navy. His military career was marked by skilled fiscal management and significant improvements in operations through performance-based evaluations of processes. During his time in the Navy, he was selected as a Federal Executive Fellow and served at the Brookings Institution. He served as a guest lecturer on numerous occasions at the Naval War College, the Army War College, the Air War College, The Fletcher School of Diplomacy, and the components of the National Defense University. His Navy experience includes tours as Commanding Officer of USS HEWITT (DD-966), Commander Naval Station Norfolk ; Commander of Cruiser-Destroyer Group Five with additional duties as Commander U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Riyadh during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, where he was in charge of Navy planning and participation in the air campaign. As Commander U.S. Third Fleet, he introduced joint training to the Pacific with the initiation of the first West Coast Joint Task Force Training Exercises (JTFEXs). A leader in the introduction of cutting-edge information technology, he pioneered the use of information technology to mount large-scale operations using sea-based command and control. As Assistant for Strategy with the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel, and Program Planning Branch Head in the Navy Program Planning Directorate, he continued to hone his analytic skills resulting in designation as a specialist both in Operations Analysis and Financial Management. During his final tour of duty, he served as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Resources, Warfare Requirements and Assessments) in charge of Navy programs and budget. Lautenbacher lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Susan who is a life-long high school and middle school science teacher.

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