A Report to the NOAA Science Advisory Board by the Research & Development Portfolio Review Task Force
NOAA conducts world-class research and development (R&D) that is critical to the Nation’s
security, economic growth, and environmental health. The importance of NOAA R&D will expand in
the future as coastal and ocean resources and weather and climate information become even more
strategically important to the economy and as American lives, property, and critical infrastructure
are exposed increasingly to the impacts of extreme weather and changing climate and coastal
Given today’s fiscal realities, NOAA now requires an R&D portfolio that is focused more sharply on
those key areas essential to supporting its services to the Nation. NOAA can continue to meet its
service and stewardship mandates only if it significantly changes the management of its R&D
portfolio and is given the flexibility to allocate its R&D budget to its highest priorities, as specified
in the Next Generation Strategic Plan. To accomplish this, the Task Force finds it imperative that
NOAA implement fundamental scientific, structural, and budgetary changes, including the following
highest priority recommendations:
1) Significantly enhance the responsibilities and authority of the current Chief Scientist
position so that his/her primary function is to both champion and oversee NOAA
science with budget authority for making sure research and development efficiently
supports NOAA’s priorities
2) Maintain a strong core of internal scientists whose scientific skill sets fit with the
agency’s current and anticipated strategic R&D priorities necessary to support NOAA’s
mission and the Next Generation Strategic Plan.
3) Capitalize on the support and skills of the extramural research community by
developing carefully targeted initiatives that meet the needs of the Next Generation
Strategic plan, that are stable and consistent over time to enable year to year planning,
and that can be integrated into NOAA’s R&D operations.
4) Develop a strong internal and external research capability in the socioeconomic and
integrated ecosystem sciences.
5) Ensure that the nation’s science and information needs are met by NOAA’s observation
and data sharing systems.
6) Obtain budget flexibility to fund these changes by eliminating or consolidating
duplicative R&D and research unrelated to NOAA’s strategic priorities and by working
more closely with the Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, and the
Department of Commerce on transitioning from the current organizational and
budgetary structure to one that is better able to provide NOAA with the flexibility it
needs to conduct the R&D required under the Next Generation Strategic Plan.