Benjamin Friedman is NOAA's Deputy Under Secretary for Operations (DUSO). He serves as NOAA’s senior career official, and is responsible for overseeing the programmatic and day-to-day management of the agency's national and international operations for oceanic and atmospheric services, research, and coastal and marine stewardship. Ben was originally selected for this role by former NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan in 2016, and has held the position over three Presidential administrations. Ben has twice served as acting NOAA Administrator, and is the longest serving DUSO in NOAA’s history. In addition to overseeing NOAA’s core mission execution, Ben has been a vocal champion for workplace engagement issues, including overseeing efforts to improve workplace culture, diversity, and inclusivity, and reduce instances of workplace harassment.
This is Ben’s fourth position in the Department of Commerce and third position within NOAA, having previously served as NOAA’s Deputy General Counsel and as Chief of the NOAA Office of General Counsel’s Enforcement Section. He also served as Assistant General Counsel for the Department of Commerce, where he oversaw employment, labor, litigation, and oversight matters for the Department and its bureaus.
Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Ben spent 16 years as a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice, including four years in the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section and 12 years at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. Ben held numerous positions with the U.S.Attorney’s Office, including serving as the first D.C. community prosecutor, overseeing the victim services division, managing multiple trial sections and serving as a Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney, in addition to working as a line attorney prosecuting violent offenders. Before joining the Justice Department, he was a clerk to Judge Pierce Lively on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ben is a 1989 graduate of Vanderbilt University with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and a 1993 graduate of Emory University Law School and the Emory School of Theology, where he earned a masters in Theological Studies. He is a native of Nashville, Tennessee, but has called the District of Columbia home for the last 30 years.