of which environmental sciences are being emphasized NGDC’s data management function is appropriate for NOAA. For these two reasons NGDC is appropriately housed at NOAA and should be supported.

To carry out its mission NOAA has laid out four mission goals and six crosscutting priorities (Appendix D). NGDC data are needed to achieve most of the mission goals: bathymetry data support maritime transportation, marine sediment data provide insight on climate variability and change, and geomagnetic data are required to predict space weather. All of NOAA’s crosscutting priorities (Appendix D) are relevant to NGDC. NGDC forms a part of NOAA’s infrastructure and its data support scientific research and education about the environment, as well as practical applications, such as predicting geomagnetic-storm-induced communications disruptions. In addition, NGDC cooperates with international programs to acquire data and operates three world data centers to disseminate data to scientists all over the world. Finally, NGDC has an obvious role in an integrated environmental observation and data management system. This is a particularly important theme to NGDC, because NOAA has traditionally stressed ocean and atmosphere, areas in which NGDC has a lesser role.

The NESDIS mission and strategic objectives focus on the data aspects of NOAA and are even more relevant to NGDC. The NESDIS mission is to provide “timely access to global environmental data and information services from satellites and other sources.”3 All NGDC activities are aimed at supporting that mission and the accompanying strategic objectives, with the exception of resource management (Appendix D). However, NGDC has only three satellite data streams (data for monitoring the space environment from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, and Television Infrared Observation Satellite). Some NGDC staff felt that NESDIS gave the center lower priority on that account.4

Both the NOAA and NESDIS strategic plans emphasize ocean and atmosphere, whereas NGDC emphasizes the Earth and near-Earth space. Nevertheless, many NOAA and NESDIS missions, objectives, and priorities could not be accomplished without NGDC. NGDC staff members recognize their importance to NOAA and NESDIS, but several told the commit-


Administration and its predecessor organizations in 1970. See Presidential Reorganization Plan Number Four of 1970, 84 Stat. 2090, and Presidential Reorganization Plan Number Two of 1965, 79 Stat. 1318-20.


Department of Commerce, 2001, A Strategic Plan for NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, Md., 28 pp.


Interviews with NGDC staff members, November 14, 2003.

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