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Program Assessment


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National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration: Ecosystem Research

This program provides scientific information and tools for ocean and coastal ecosystem management by funding scientific work at NOAA laboratories and research grants to universities. Products include: characterizations of ecosystems; ecological forecasts; technologies and information tools; and outreach and education.


What This Rating Means


This rating describes a program that needs to set more ambitious goals, achieve better results, improve accountability or strengthen its management practices.
  • The Ecosystem Research Program is designed to address the need for science in support of wise management of ocean and coastal resources. The President's U.S. Ocean Action Plan expressed support for many of these activities, which were also emphasized by two recent blue-ribbon panels, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission.
  • Some redundancies exist within components of the Ecosystem Research Program as well as between this program and other Federal efforts. This program was established to try to begin to align different research efforts within NOAA in order to address these redundancies. In addition, other Federal, state, and private organizations have similar or shared responsibilities.
  • Within some of the components of this program, program managers have had difficulty influencing how resources are targeted to ensure that the highest priority science needs are met. This can be an issue for institutional programs, such as Sea Grant, and for earmarked research projects.

Improvement Plan

About Improvement Plans

We are taking the following actions to improve the performance of the program:

  • Assessing the portfolio of research within NOAA's Ecosystem Research Program in order clarify the role of each of the Program's components and eliminate redundancies.
  • Modifying planning and management processes so that research activities meet the highest priority science needs and provide a balanced response to local, regional, and national issues.

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