not acknowledge the substantive and procedural contributions of the U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change (NAST, 2001), a major focus of the Global Change Research Program (GCRP) in the late 1990s. Many participants at the December workshop criticized how the draft strategic plan treated the National Assessment, as did this committee in its first report (NRC, 2003b). The revised plan does not reflect an attempt to address these concerns, and no rationale for this decision has been provided.
As the program moves forward from planning to implementation, regular opportunities should be provided for interested parties to comment on the specific details of the program. The overall plan, and its individual components, will benefit from review boards, steering committees, and other structures that can provide external expert advice to the program’s managers. In fact, at the committee’s August 2003 meeting, several chapter authors indicated that they are planning workshops with research and stakeholder communities to further revise their portions of the strategic plan and to develop implementation plans. The committee commends the program managers for seeking input from expert communities in this manner. These smaller expert workshops would have been of even more value if they had taken place before the strategic plan was prepared and before the large planning workshop. Increasing the involvement of the decision support community and various stakeholders is an important way to improve future planning. This involvement should be given a high priority in the near term, starting with areas where there is already a receptive decision-making group, such as water resource managers.
The current strategic planning effort of the CCSP has been impressive. It has identified goals and objectives for the program, proposed an ambitious series of products that will shed light on issues perceived to be important for national decision makers, and stimulated a great amount of cooperation among the many participating agencies. But, as the CCSP itself has pointed out, planning and implementing such an ambitious program is itself something of an experiment. It is an experiment not only in managing activities among a diverse group of agencies but also in trying to produce near-term results and analyses helpful to decision makers while simultaneously assuring that the long-term nature of the climate change issue continues to receive sufficient attention. Even with the substantial history of the GCRP behind it, continued planning and management of the CCSP remains a work in progress.
While many of the activities that are envisioned in the current strategic plan will succeed, some will fail, and others will achieve their goals more slowly than anticipated. Some agencies will perceive their involvement in the CCSP to have advanced their missions; others will not. The science will proceed quickly in some areas and frustratingly slowly in others. It is critical that the program management and the agencies use these experiences in an adaptive way to adjust their own management practices as they identify the next series of tasks in a dynamic scientific, budgetary, and political environment. Embracing adaptive management for the program as a whole will require ongoing and rigorous evaluation and redirection. As discussed in Chapter 3 of this report, to identify which program elements are succeeding and which are lagging, the CCSP will need to conduct rigorous independent program reviews.
The committee believes that one way to ensure that adaptive learning occurs will be for the CCSP to conduct future strategic planning exercises, perhaps in collaboration with relevant international programs. The CCSP should update the strategic plan every three to five years. The updated strategic plan need not be as extensive as the current plan; it could instead focus largely on those areas of the science and the program for which adjustments are needed, and should spell out what those adjustments are intended to be. It will be critical that the updated plan be developed in cooperation with scientific and stakeholder communities, and that the updated plan identify the management responsibility and accountability for all the elements of the program, including its crosscutting functional components, such as communications and data management.
Recommendation: The CCSP should plan for the generation of an updated strategic plan every three to five years.
The process of producing the updated plan should reflect the learning that has accompanied the current CCSP strategic plan. Any strategic plan is a balance between the top-down goals of the organization and its bottom-up capabilities to deliver information and products. The current plan reflects this tension in the often poor linkage between the products and milestones identified in the individual science chapters and the five goals for the overall CCSP. The updated plan should resolve persisting linkage problems. This can be done effectively only by engaging the scientific community responsible for generating measurements and knowledge in each of the program’s areas. This engagement should happen early and often, to provide timely feedback to the CCSP.
Involving the potential users of climate science (broadly defined) early in the updated strategic planning