Bill Would Require Congressional Nominations for CGA

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by bossf51, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. bossf51

    bossf51 10-Year Member

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    New London - In a move that caught the U.S. Coast Guard by surprise, the House has passed a bill that would require congressional nomination for admission to the Coast Guard Academy.

    Unlike the nation's other military service academies, which admit students by nomination, the Coast Guard Academy has traditionally admitted students on the basis of academic merit, like civilian colleges and universities.

    A provision in the Coast Guard Authorization Act, a bill that authorizes appropriations for the service for fiscal year 2008 as well as policy changes, requires applicants to the academy to obtain a nomination from an official source, such as a member of Congress or an authority from a U.S. territory.

    U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, proposed bringing the application process in line with the other academies as a way to diversify the cadet corps.

    In his floor statement, Cummings said the change,“in conjunction with expanded minority recruiting efforts, will draw students from all of our nation's communities to the academy- beginning the process that the commandant himself has said is needed to expand minorities at all ranks of the more than 6,000-member officer corps from the current number of 827.”

    But the provision took both the Coast Guard and the White House by surprise.

    ”It wasn't something we expected to see included in the bill, so we're taking the time to review it and see what the merits might be,” said Cmdr. Brendan C. McPherson, press secretary for Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad W. Allen.

    ”We want a diverse cadet corps,” McPherson added.“We're in lockstep with the Congress on that, and at this point we're looking at this provision and other alternatives that may help us do that.”

    A White House statement said that while the idea may“ultimately be acceptable, this provision has not previously been shared, or even discussed, with the administration.”

    The day before the House vote, the administration asked that it be deleted from the act. But on Thursday the House passed the act, 395-7, with the provision intact. It is currently pending action in the Senate.

    U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, favors the idea as a way to“systematically broaden the student body.”

    ”It will become part of the standard list of options for academy appointments in congressional offices,” Courtney said.“Now it doesn't even exist in the minds of congressional staff or high school students who are considering an academy for higher education.”

    The academy would have to allocate the current number of cadet positions to each state, proportional to the representation in Congress from that state, and a set number of positions to residents of the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

    Academy officials can then offer appointments to students who meet these criteria and the admission requirements. Some students may be appointed to the academy without competing in this way, including children of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients and children of service members who died while on active duty.

    Chief Warrant Officer David M. French, an academy spokesman, said Tuesday that academy officials could not comment on pending legislation.
     
  2. The Commissioner

    The Commissioner 10-Year Member Founding Member Retired Staff Member

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    Never underestimate the desire for a congressman to find another way to look like a benefactor (nomination) and get free publicity at the same time.:rolleyes:

    If the guy's proposal becomes law, there will be a lot more cadets at CGA from the flyover states than are there now. That will bring more geographic diversity. Due to gerrymandered congressional districts, there will probably be more racial diversity in the applicant pool, but not necessarily at the academy unless they adopt a quota.

    According to the USGCA website, 391 appointments were offered and 272 cadets sworn in to the class of 2011. There are 435 congressional districts. Assuming each congressman has a qualified constituent who applies, there will be a minimum of 435 nominations for 391 appointments. It's still a merit system, although appointee #391 may be far less attractive to the GCA than unsuccessful applicants from highly competitive districts.

    On one hand, I hate to see the GCA admissions guys get their hands tied when trying to put together the strongest class possible. On the other hand, the fact that the congressman have an incentive to get involved means more publicity for the academy and hopefully more applicants.
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 5-Year Member

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    Academy officials probably wouldn't comment. In the Coast Guard you have an Assistant Commandant, CMDT (CG-092), who deals with Governmental and Public Affairs. CDR McPherson is the Chief of the Coast Guard Office of Public Affairs CMDT (CG-0922). When things come up at the national level, it's better to have the CG Public Affairs handle it, and act as the "point-man" for the questions and CG stance on the issue, instead of the unit (in this case CGA, which is a CGHQ unit) Public Affairs officer from tackling it.


    I've included the link to the Statement by Admiral Allen about the bill, which, while the CGA portion is important, also has a few other important areas for concern.

    https://www.piersystem.com/go/doc/786/199929/
     
  4. cashcraft

    cashcraft 5-Year Member

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    Mr. Cummings made it sound like the Academy was somewhat supportive of transition to Congressional nominations, but its been a couple of weeks and my memory could be slipping. I emailed my admissions officer and he was quite surprised and suggested I contact someone in pubic affairs. I guess I could swing by the liaison office or talk to someone with Transportation and Infrastructure to clear that up.

    In any case, the RS version of the Senate bill doesn't say anything about Congressional nominations. Also, the nomination provisions showed up in a T&I committee amendment that was adopted by voice vote (ie no one really cared) and might have slipped under the radar. It was mentioned for maybe 10 seconds during the House floor debate. The bill still has a ways to go before it is sent to the President. The nominations might be just one of those quirky House things that will disappear in conference.

    That being said, does anyone have any guesses on whether this will have any effect on class of 2013 applications?
     
  5. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    I think you answered your own question:

    I'm doubtful anything could be done in time for this fall's (2013) MOC nominations.
     
  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 5-Year Member

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    In general that kind of question will not be handled by Public Affairs on the Academy level. It would most likely be handled at the CGHQ level. The Coast Guard Academy Public Affairs Officer defered to the Office of Public Affairs. There was a statement, not only on the CG level, but also the Office of the President. From that statement, the Coast Guard said they would be willing to entertain the CGA side of it, but was disturbed by other parts of the bill.
     
  7. J Collins

    J Collins 5-Year Member Founding Member

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    WOW....

    My daughter is prepared to apply for a congressional letter anyway, but I think this takes something away from the ability of the USCG to be picky.

    Interesting....
     
  8. J Collins

    J Collins 5-Year Member Founding Member

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    Hmmmmm that's the class my daughter will be in... I will have to follow this more.
     
  9. bossf51

    bossf51 10-Year Member

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    If implemented this would be a big mistake. There were 21 kids from Connecticut in my son's class('09). All but one remain, i.e. they were great candidates and cadets.

    Had this been in effect back in '04 when they were applying, there is a good chance that many of them, my son included, wouldn't have made it. Bad idea.

    :thumbdown:
     
  10. mnolan

    mnolan 5-Year Member

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    congressional nominations

    On the other hand.... :smile: And this is easy for me to say as I have no more kids coming up into a service academy.....

    Out here in the Midwest, no one knows nor cares about the USCGA. We couldn't even get my daughters acceptance into the local paper!

    If MOC's nominations were required, I believe that:

    1. More individuals from underrepresented areas like ourselves would apply and be accepted. That is good for us, bad for other areas, but I think overall it is best to have a student body that demographically and geographically looks a little like the whole US. I know it is great that CT had 21 enrollees, but why should a state like Indiana, with roughly twice the population, only have three (class of 2012) enrollees? Probably because no one hears about the CGA and the MOC's don't care. Admission partners do a great job, but they don't have the PR machine that congressmen do.

    2. And even if it means politics...wouldn't it be great if EVERY MOC was interested in USCGA (or at least had heard of it), and if they would make announcements for USCGA just like the other service academies? Maybe then they would take notice. It would be great if USCGA had the same stature as West Point, USNA, USAFA etc... I know many of us might say it does, but out here in the Midwest it sure doesn't!

    It would certainly change the makeup of the student body, but in my opinion, the pluses and minuses about balance out. But it would be a big plus from both the public and MOC's point of view, and that might tip the balance.

    Just my two cents worth (and I am sure your son would have gotten in anyhow!:thumb:)

    Mike
     
  11. bossf51

    bossf51 10-Year Member

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    Well you make some good points Mike but I dispute the fact that people in the Midwest "have never heard" of the Coast Guard Academy. Maybe in Indiana and Podunk but Ohio,Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and other states are well repped. Grand Haven, MI has a Coast Guard festival every years and is known as "The Coast Guard City."

    The reputation of the CGA is right up there with the others. Of course it is smaller but it is just as good. Ranked Number Two College in the North by Princeton Review, produces astronauts, CEO's, politicians, and just about every possible occupation. Having more Coasties from Montana or Idaho is not the answer...ha ha:biggrin:
     
  12. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 5-Year Member

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    In my opinion, the people who SHOULD get in, do with the current system...and I don't know if I want every member of Congress voicing their opinions on what should happen at a service academy.

    Would it be the end of the world? No. Would it be an improvement? Absolutely not.

    :thumbdown:
     
  13. futureplebe

    futureplebe 5-Year Member

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    So, living in suburban Cleveland, I'm not sure if people do know that much about CGA, but a lot know about NA, AFA, my H.S. usually sends a couple kids to Navy or AF each year, but none have ever gone to CGA. Would this help me out?
     
  14. MaritimeGirl11

    MaritimeGirl11 10-Year Member

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    Thats interesting!
     
  15. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 5-Year Member

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    Interesting because the Coast Guard's District 9 HQ is in Cleveland.

    In the past 10 years, from my high school three people got into West Point, two to the Air Force Academy, two to the Coast Guard Academy, one to the Naval Academy, and one to the Merchant Marine Academy.

    Granted the second person to go to the Coast Guard Academy was introduced to it because of the first person.

    Also given the fact that the Merchant Marine Academy is slightly larger than the Coast Guard Academy but tends to be underrepresented by "land-locked" states, but still has congressional nominations...I question how much this would help, other than limiting the numbers of qualified, excellent individuals may be accepted from more traditional sea loving states.
     
  16. futureplebe

    futureplebe 5-Year Member

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    Yeah, when I gave a "Life changing" speech a few years ago for school in a Cleveland suburb, I chose to do it on the Coast Guard and moving because that has impacted my life a lot. Pretty much everyone thought the Coast Guard was part of the Navy and was just a non-combat section. :eek:
     
  17. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 5-Year Member

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    That seems to be the opinion in many parts of the Pentagon too.

    All you can really do is tell people what you know in the end. The Coast Guard is small enough that I don't expect everyone to know about it. I do believe DoD should have some idea however.
     
  18. yogijer

    yogijer 5-Year Member

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    If noms work at other SA. Why not CGA?

    If CGA is supported with taxpayer $. Than all states should have allotment based on population. MOC noms are the fairest way to do it.
     
  19. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 5-Year Member

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    Interesting take...in that mind set...any state's National Guard should be at the disposal of another state, as they are being funded by federal tax dollars...

    Also, who says the other SA's need Congressional nominations...hasn't been needed since 1876...why is it needed now? :confused:
     
  20. shellz

    shellz 5-Year Member

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    Yogijer...
    What if state "x" has more qualified applicants than state "y". Do you take the less than qualified candidates based solely on geography? My vote goes to the most qualified candidate, regardless of where he/she hails from. It is not "fair" to deny a qualified applicant over a less qualified one based on this system. I know the other academies do this, but in my opinion, too many kids get overlooked because of it. Just my .02
     

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