However, as an existing staff organization, the necessary direct line organizational and budgetary authority links needed to achieve the funding commitments and focus required over the longer term may not be achievable. Dedicated agency staffing, with full-time, high-level agency representatives, may be required to provide the necessary greater focus on transition planning and implementation.
The committee’s findings point to the necessity of creating a joint research-to-operations transition office. The benefits of this approach, as described above, include these:
A dedicated, organized, and focused mechanism for transitioning research to operations;
A balanced and neutral office, reporting to high-level authorities in NASA and NOAA, charged with planning and coordinating the transitional process from research to operations, thereby strengthening the partnership between NASA and NOAA and supporting the missions of each;
A continuous, long-term planning mechanism connected to the budgetary planning processes in NASA and NOAA;
On-going review responsibility of all transitions;
Valuable input provided by an independent, external advisory council made up of individuals knowledgeable about both the research and operations; and
An equally balanced, high-level staff reporting to equally high-level authorities (within their respective agencies), charged with planning and coordinating the transitional process from research to operations.
While the committee believes that creation of the Interagency Transition Office would be a major step toward making transitions from research to operations faster and more effective, it realizes that the ITO by itself will not guarantee success. A strong and sustained commitment by NASA and NOAA leadership to the ITO in particular and to transitioning in general is required, and the ITO must be provided sufficient resources and authority to do its job. In addition, cultures in both agencies that favor technology transfer must be fostered, and appropriate reward systems need to be implemented to attract the high-quality people needed to make the ITO successful.