In an effort to save tax payer dollars and in the spirit of collaboration between Science Centers and Regional Offices, I would like to explore the idea of possibly using NOAA's small boats for the field work we do at regional offices instead of contracting this work out to private companies. Our field activities typically involve...
* response and restoration activities at large ship grounding sites
* site visits at places where essential fish habitat (EFH) may be affected by coastal construction or aquaculture projects
*training and testing of cutting edge underwater mapping technology
Generally, we spend $1,000 to $1,500 per day for a boat when using a private contractor. The amount of money that we could save our constituents by not paying contractors would be substantial (not to mention the administrative costs associated with arranging the contracts). This cost savings benefit could be passed on to all offices within the NOAA and the Fish and Wildlife Service. With over 200 small boats in NOAA alone and thousands of field workers the savings could be in the tens of millions of dollars range. Conservative estimate breakdown - 200 boats x 1,000 field employees x 150 days in the field/yr = $30,000,000.