Legislative Action Plan
Legislative Action Plan
The following package can be used as a guide when meeting your elected officials (congressman and senator). This package will include these helpful tips on the process and the following:
Pre-Meeting Information – to be sent to your representative as background information
Talking Points – a template for the main points of discussion
1) Contact your elected official’s local office and ask for a meeting to discuss the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy
2) Participants in this meeting should include an alumnus and a parent, with at least one of them being a constituent. Attendance should be limited to no more than four at the maximum
3) Contact the USMMA Admissions department to get a history of the representatives track record of nominating midshipmen to the Academy
4) Send the Pre-Meeting Information in time for the representative and/or staffers to read. Time for these meetings may be as short as 15 minutes so the less time spent on background information and more on the talking points the better
5) Use the Talking Points as your guide for the important issues to be discussed. This will also provide a uniform message to all representatives and allows the attendees to speak confidently
6) Volunteer to participate in the Academy Selection Committee for that representative. It is not time consuming and it allows you better access to the representative’s office and staffers
7) Follow up with a letter of thanks to the representative and any staffers involved in the meeting
8) Provide feedback and a “brief” summary of the meeting to the President of the Alumni Association & Foundation, Jim Tobin ’77, at email@example.com. He will compile this feedback and pass on to the Government Affairs and Congressional Liaison Committees as well as the Chapter Presidents Alliance and the National Parents Association
9) Provide your contact information and your representative’s information to Peter Bender ’58 at firstname.lastname@example.org. Peter is compiling a legislative matrix that can be used for any future issues affecting the Academy
10) Encourage all alumni, parents, and friends to contact their elected officials. There must be a unified, coordinated effort without groups carrying out their own agendas. The purpose of this package is to make this effort easier for all involved
11) Thank you for your time and effort regarding this very important task
• We would like to extend an invitation to you to visit the Academy at Kings Point, NY. A full tour can be provided and set up a chance to meet the midshipmen, and in particular, any midshipmen that you nominated to the Academy. We believe these visits would give you a better understanding of the Academy, its mission and its needs.
• We, your constituents, ardently request your full support of the proposed Budget for the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) for FY2013. The recently passed FY2012 Budget for the Academy is $85 million consisting of an Operating Budget of $62 million, $23 million for a Capital Improvement program, plus $6 million for maintenance and repair. The 2012 Budget was drafted to correct deficiencies that have plagued the Academy over many years and to begin long neglected repairs and capital improvements. We reference here the report of the Blue Ribbon Panel appointed by the Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood titled “USMMA: Red Sky in the Morning”, which documents the dire condition of the Academy and the need for Congress’ full support of the proposed Budget.
• For over sixty years the USMMA has consistently supplied the United States Merchant Marine and the Naval Reserve with licensed maritime deck and engine officers. USMMA is the single, largest source of Naval Reserve officers. These officers have been critical to the economic and defense needs of the United States (see pages 4 and 5 of the “Red Sky” report.) Maritime and security interests vital to our nation depend on a strong U.S. Merchant Marine and capable maritime officers. Precepts such as honor, integrity and ethics routinely taught and expected at Kings Point have produced outstanding graduates who have gone on as leaders in both industry and the military. Eric Mensing, American President Lines, Steve Carmel, Maersk Lines, John Parrott, TOTE, Lois Zabrocky, Overseas Shipholding Group, and Tim Brown, Maritime Labor Leader are examples of industry leaders. NASA Astronaut CAPT. Mark Kelly, husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Rear Admiral Mark Buzby, head of Military Sealift Command, and Vice Admiral Kevin Cossgriff, Commander US Naval Forces Central Command are military leaders and all are just a few examples of Kings Point’s distinguished alumni. The Academy needs the resources to continue to produce this level of graduate. In addition, the Academy is working hard to attract women and minorities, but the poor condition of the Academy’s plant and facilities can dissuade these students from attending.
• The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (aka the Jones Act) states:
It is necessary for the national defense and for the proper growth
of its foreign and domestic commerce that the United States shall have a merchant marine of the best equipped and most suitable types of vessels sufficient to carry the greater portion of its commerce and serve as a naval auxiliary in time of war or national emergency, ultimately to be owned and operated privately by citizens of the United States; and it is the declared policy of the United States to do whatever may be necessary to develop and encourage the maintenance of such a merchant marine.
History has proven again and again that the world’s greatest civilizations have declined as their merchant shipping and their navy declined. The United States Merchant Marine Academy helps fulfill the intent of the Jones Act by providing the nation with well trained licensed mariners. In addition, the Maritime Security Act of 1996, which established a fleet of merchant ships called the “Ready Reserve Fleet” further supports the need for United States mariners. This fleet ensures that there are sufficient U.S. merchant vessels to maintain military operations worldwide. This fleet needs an adequate supply of U.S. licensed mariner officers.
• The United States Merchant Marine Academy graduates approximately 200 Merchant Mariners each year, 100% of whom graduate with U.S. Coast Guard licenses and appointments in the Naval Reserve. Statistically, no other maritime school of its size comes close to this percentage. In addition, many other maritime schools graduate primarily “deck” officers, whereas about 50% of Kings Point’s graduates are engineering officers, a growing need within the industry.
• We have concerns regarding the inability of the Academy to accept gifts from the Academy’s Alumni Foundation, a process that has almost ground to a halt. One such gift of approximately $1 million was to go toward developing the Strategic Plan for the Academy, a key recommendation of the “Red Sky” report. We have alumni who are offering large monetary gifts to the school and are becoming frustrated at not being able to help their Alma Mater financially. If these donations are withdrawn and the Academy loses the support of its alumni, it will mean that the U.S. taxpayer will have to bear more of the cost of the Academy. Secretary LaHood has stated that he believes alumni donations are vital to the Academy’s future.
• Congress, in our opinion, would be hard pressed to find a department or organization within the government that has done more with less, in keeping with the Academy’s motto, “Acta Non Verba”, “Deeds, Not Words”. While being extremely careful stewards of the taxpayer’s money has been an admirable goal, the Academy’s deteriorated plant and assets demand the resources necessary to preserve Kings Point and its contributions to the nation and its history. The future of the United States Merchant Marine Academy demands that it receive funding on par with the other federal service academies.
• We have significant concerns about turnover of the leadership at the Academy. In particular, it is to be noted that the institution has had 6 Superintendents since 2008 (including 3 times that Dean Kumar has had to step up as Acting Superintendent which he is currently assigned again while still the Dean). This is not a positive way to run a top-notch educational institution. The most recent change was the mid-term (early Oct 2011] reassignment of Rear Admiral Phillip Greene after only 14 months of service as Superintendent.
• Academy Budget
• Support of the Academy’s proposed FY2013 Budget is crucial. The recently passed FY2012 Budget was $85 million consisting of an operating budget of $62 million, $23 million for a Capital Improvement Program, and $6 million for repairs and maintenance. The Academy cannot afford any reductions to the FY2013 Budget as decades of underfunding have caused significant deficiencies in repairs and capital improvement.
• Reference the Secretary of Transportation’s Blue Ribbon Panel Report titled “USMMA Red Sky in the Morning” which documents the Academy’s condition and the need for full congressional support of the budget.
• Stress congressional support is the Academy’s lifeline
• Governance of the Academy
• Restore regular meetings of the Congressional Board of Visitors as mandated by law which in recent years has been neglected
• Excessive Turnover in Leadership – six superintendents since 2008 is not conducive to consistency nor does it provide the leadership required for a federal service academy
• Such administrative turnovers and resulting policy changes leave uncertainty among students, faculty and staff. Instability is not conducive for recruiting the best and brightest
• Turnover could create difficulties for accreditation with Middle States
• Costly to taxpayers who must pay for hiring and dismissal processes
• Strategic Plan – gift valued at over $1 million offered by Alumni Foundation to pay for consulting services. MARAD took 10 months to review and now will hire another vendor at taxpayers’ expense
• Delays in ordering textbooks, uniforms, and winter clothing
• A legal interpretation that forbids the Academy to charge admission to athletic events forcing taxpayers to provide additional funding
• Legislative and Regulatory Authority for the Academy to Operate at the Same Standards as Other Federal Academies
• MARAD claim that this authority is not currently available for USMMA and therefore must be treated differently from other federal academies
• Private-Public partnership at West Point and Annapolis that allows raising of private funds for significant capital projects
• Non-Appropriated Funded Instrumentalities (NAFI) – widely used as a vehicle for countless government entities but being completely eliminated by MARAD due to lack of authority for the Academy (Example – Global Maritime and Transportation School (GMATS)(History attached)
• Support of any legislation to support this authority for USMMA
HISTORY OF MARAD SHUTDOWN OF GMATS
On December 8th The Maritime Administrator directed that GMATS be shutdown.
The Global Maritime and Transportation School (GMATS) has been operating at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy(USMMA) for almost twenty years in support of the Academy, the Maritime Industry, the Military and Government. It has been one of the shining lights as a government entity that has used no government money, raised over 7 million dollars for a Government Academy, efficiently trained thousands of naval reservists, served as the NOAA fleet officers school, and made major contributions to the maritime industry. GMATS has served as the only training center for integration of the military and commercial fleets in time of war and emergencies. It has received numerous awards and praise from industry and government and is looked on as one of the leading maritime training institutions in the world.
GMATS and the USMMA have received the support and admiration of Maritime Administrators and Secretaries of Transportation over all the years of their operation. That is until the present Maritime Administration, which is run by a politically appointed management group with no maritime experience or knowledge, initiated their present program to remake the Academy and close GMATS.
GMATS was started by the Alumni as a 501(c)(3) corporation in 1984 and was transitioned to an Academy Non Appropriated Funds Instrumentality (NAFI) in 1994 at the request of the Academy Superintendent. The GAO audit report of the Academy (2009), advised that a NAFI was not the proper platform for a training and research organization such as GMATS. The GAO had no adverse comments on the operation of GMATS as an organization. The GMATS Board proposed in January 2010 that GMATS transition back to the original Alumni 501(c)(3) non profit corporation, the US Maritime Resource Center (MRC).
MARAD has attempted over the past two years to close GMATS and refused to discuss future MARAD and Academy goals as to how GMATS could meet them. Immediately following the proposal to transition to a 501(c)(3) MARAD issued an order to transfer all GMATS assets and bank accounts to MARAD whereby they would manage GMATS. That would have essentially shut down GMATS and the GMATS Chairman challenged the directive by letter to the MARAD Chief Counsel. MARAD did not enforce the directive.
During the following two years MARAD had refused to meet with the GMATS Board to discuss any concerns MARAD might have. Obviously MARAD has had a plan to close GMATS, perhaps because of the Boards refusal to turn over GMATS funds as the other NAFIs at the Academy.
In June of 2010 the MARAD NAFI Committee requested GMATS Board make a transition presentation to the MARAD NAFI Committee followed by a question and answer period. The GMATS Board was pleased it could finally discuss any MARAD goals and concerns. A presentation was made to MARAD on July 15th and was essentially the same proposal submitted to the Superintendent the previous January to transition to the original MRC 501(c)(3). At the meeting, led by the Deputy Administrator Gotay, the attitude of the MARAD NAFI Committee toward the Board was very hostile. The Chief Council Krepp challenged the fact that the MRC Board (the original Board of MRC) was the same as the GMATS Board. She said this was illegal and warranted another GAO audit ignoring that the NAFI start up agreement called for two members of the MRC Board to be on the NAFI Board. Because of these unwarranted objections, the GMATS Chairman changed the proposal to transition to a new 501(c)(3). When it came time for the discussion period following the presentation, the GMATS Board members were told by Gotay that the GMATS people were not allowed to ask questions only answer them, thus showing no interest in a GMATS transition.
No further communications took place until the MARAD request for a Business Plan on how GMATS would operate at the Academy as a 501(c)(3). A complete GMATS Business Plan for Future Operations was submitted to MARAD on August 31, 2011.
On September 30th The Chairman of GMATS (Eugene Story) received a telephone call from the Maritime Administrator advising him that MARAD had approved GMATS transitioning to a 501(c)(3). The Chairman thanked the Administrator and informed him that GMATS would proceed with forming the new 501(c)(3) non profit corporation and the Chairman confirmed the conversation by a letter.
Without any knowledge of the GMATS Board or staff, on September 30, 2011 the Maritime Administrator issued an order to the NAFI Committee to prepare an implementation plan by December 30, 2011 for the orderly shutdown of the GMATS NAFI by July 31, 2012. The NAFI Committee was advised to receive input from the GMATS Board on how they propose to transition GMATS to a new organization. The NAFI Committee did not notify GMATS of this directive and proceded on December 8, 2011 to shut down GMATS, clearly the MARAD Committee did not want GMATS to transition or stay in business.
No further communication was received until the Chairman received a telephone call from Deputy Sec of Transportation Pocari and Administrator Matsuda on December 8, 2011 stating that they were starting the closing of GMATS that day and would be advising all the employees of GMATS that they should start looking for other jobs. They also advised the Chairman that he and the other industry Board members were no longer on the board. The former chairman asked why they had not advised GMATS before and why Administrator Matsuda had advised the former chairman on September 30 that they approved transitioning to a 501(c)(3). There was no direct answer but Deputy Sec Pocari said he had nothing against GMATS transitioning to a 501(c)(3) and that the former chairman should meet with Administrator Matsuda to discuss how this could be done. The staff of GMATS was told they could not speak with any of the past Board Members.
The former chairman met with the Administrator on December 14 and was told that GMATS could not transition to a 501(c)(3) without Congressional legislation. There was no answer to former chairman’s question why MARAD had not informed GMATS of this determination over the past two years of transition proposals. The former Chairman was informed that GMATS could transfer the GMATS contracts to a private party if the clients agreed. The former chairman said the proposed 501(c)(3) organization would meet with the GMATS staff in an attempt to save as many clients and jobs as possible. This would require lifting the “Gag Order” to the staff so that discussions could take place. Administrator Matsuda said he would clear it with the Superintendent. A meeting was set up at GMATS for December 20th. The Former Chairman met with the Superintendent prior to the meeting who said he had been told by MARAD that the former chairman was not allowed to see any contracts.
These events show clearly that there has been a planned and methodical attempt to destroy GMATS. By not notifying the GMATS Board that legislation would be required, and failing to notify GMATS of the December shutdown, MARAD has insured that there was no opportunity to include legislation in the 2012 Congressional bills closed out in December. Not allowing the contracts to be reviewed insured that contract transfers could not be made and that jobs would be lost.
The MARAD statements issued a claim that GMATS is being shut down at the direction of the GAO. This is not true. MARAD has also claimed the shutdown of the GMATS NAFI was because GMATS did not meet the criteria set by MARAD for a NAFI even though GMATS proposed transitioning to a 501(c)(3) two years before.
Congress is currently working on legislation to allow for the transition of GMATS to a 501(c)(3) along with its funds and having GMATS continue at the Academy. The Secretary is being requested by many senior maritime and military leaders to delay the NAFI shutdown to the end of the year (2012) to allow time for the development of the necessary legislation.