global changes; for evaluating the drivers, vulnerabilities, and responses to such changes; and for identifying opportunities to increase the resilience of both human and natural systems. The Plan needs to describe a clear vision and specific objectives for adding and integrating new types of observations, along with a commitment to some concrete steps towards realizing this vision. The Plan also needs to present an appropriate governance structure and dedicated mechanisms to sustain existing long-term observational systems.

•   The USGCRP and its member agencies and programs are lacking in capacity to achieve the proposed broadening of the Program, perhaps most seriously with regard to integrating the social and ecological sciences within research and observational programs, and developing the scientific base and organizational capacity for decision support related to mitigation and adaptation choices. Member agencies and programs have insufficient expertise in these domains and lack clear mandates to develop the needed science.

•   In the Committee’s judgment, it would be a mistake to postpone phasing in the newer elements of the Program (as is implied in the implementation section of the Strategic Plan). Rather, we suggest that the Program identify some initial steps it will take in the proposed broadening of scope –including steps to develop critical science capacity that is currently lacking and to improve linkages between the production of knowledge and its use. The Program’s implementation plan should assign responsibilities and resources to specific entities to lead those efforts.

•   The proposed broadening of the Program in the areas of education, communication, and workforce development needs more careful thinking, regarding which of these activities belong within the Program, which are best organized by entities outside the Program, and how the former will link to the latter.

•   The Strategic Plan and/or the Implementation Plan to follow should establish clear processes for setting priorities and phasing in and out elements of the Program, especially in relation to the planned broadening of its scope. The USGCRP should employ iterative processes for periodically evaluating and updating the Program and its priorities, including processes for consultation with decision makers inside and outside the federal government, regarding the scientific knowledge about global change that would provide the greatest value for them.

•   The USGCRP needs an overall governance structure with the responsibility and resources needed to broaden the Program in the directions outlined in the Plan, including an ability to compel reallocation of funds to serve the Program’s overarching priorities. Without such a governance structure, the likely evolution of the Program will be business as usual: a compilation of program elements that derive from each member agency’s individual priorities.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement