National Weather Service director Jack Hayes has stepped down amid an investigation into claims his organization misappropriated almost $44 million of taxpayers' money, msnbc.com reported late Sunday.

According to the report, Hayes vacated his position Friday, following the release of an audit report concerning nine contracts worth a maximum of $1.6 billion that provided incentives for good work.

It was claimed that some bonuses and extensions were provided to contractors without justification.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, the ranking member of Washington's Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard subcommittee, said in a statement, "The deeply troubling revelation that senior staff at the National Weather Service ... have been conducting improper and potentially illegal transfers of taxpayers' money is unacceptable.

"While the director of the National Weather Service has stepped down, there are many more remaining questions which require answers from both National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] and the Department of Commerce [DoC] -- and any and all individuals who bear responsibility in this misconduct must be held fully to account."

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Snowe said in her statement that an investigation was held by NOAA and DoC staff from December 2011 through to this month "to determine what actions had been taken, what should be done to correct improprieties, and why any improper actions were not detected and corrected sooner."

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