Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Fonctionnaire for MARAD?

I guess you can look at this a few ways - but is it a good move for a maritime nation with a significantly under-optimized merchant fleet to have someone who is, basically, a mid-level rail road attorney turned Senate Staffer at the front of its Maritime Administration?

Let's first look at what the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration has to say about itself.
The Maritime Administration is the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation dealing with waterborne transportation. Its programs promote the use of waterborne transportation and its seamless integration with other segments of the transportation system, and the viability of the U.S. merchant marine. The Maritime Administration works in many areas involving ships and shipping, shipbuilding, port operations, vessel operations, national security, environment, and safety. The Maritime Administration is also charged with maintaining the health of the merchant marine, since commercial mariners, vessels, and intermodal facilities are vital for supporting national security, and so the agency provides support and information for current mariners, extensive support for educating future mariners, and programs to educate America's young people about the vital role the maritime industry plays in the lives of all Americans.

The Maritime Administration also maintains a fleet of cargo ships in reserve to provide surge sealift during war and national emergencies, and is responsible for disposing of ships in that fleet, as well as other non-combatant Government ships, as they become obsolete.

The Maritime Administration recently realigned many of its functions, to revitalize its role as an industry facilitator, and to bring greater focus to the areas of environment and safety.
"Re-aligned." Harumph ... kind of like NASA?

Anyway - here is who is running it:
Matsuda attended Harvey Mudd College and received a B.S. in engineering. He then earned a law degree at the University of San Diego.

Matsuda began his career in law at the Federal Railroad Administration. From 1998 to 2002, Matsuda practiced with the safety-law division before becoming a staff member in the U.S. Senate.

During the next several years, Matsuda gained legislative experience in a wide array of transportation issues.
Matsuda began working for the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and within two years he was added to the staff of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

In 2009, Matsuda was nominated to the position of DOT acting assistant secretary for transportation policy. In his short time in this position, Matsuda was responsible for advising on all DOT legislation and reports. In addition, he oversaw the Office of Economic and Strategic Analysis and the Office of Safety, Energy and the Environment.

Matsuda was nominated as deputy and acting maritime administrator in July 2009. In December of 2009, President Obama nominated Matsuda to maritime administrator.
If a maritime administrator is to just focus on what little lifeline there is to get out of the political teat and to make everything safe and green - I guess Matsuda is a fine choice.

Is that really what we need? What skill set - if any - would be a better fit?

Hat tip gCaptain.

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