The committee commends the IWGOA for calling out the need for a National Ocean Acidification Program Office (referred to as the National Program Office in this report) and agrees strongly with the Strategic Plan that this office will be central to the successful implementation of the Program. The committee recommends that the plan provide greater clarity regarding the creation, function, and governance of the National Program Office. Although the Strategic Plan gives the National Program Office the responsibility for developing the implementation plan, it does not explain how or when the National Program Office will be set up. Therefore, a plan for the creation, function, and governance of the National Program Office is essential for the timely development of the implementation plan.
Based on previous experiences with national research efforts, the following functions are fundamental for a successful program office:
• coordinating research across the federal and state agencies;
• coordinating activities with international efforts;
• engaging the broader stakeholder community in developing research priorities and metrics for evaluating progress;
• communicating important results among agencies, policy makers, stakeholders, and the public; and
• ensuring that the nation receives the highest return from its investment in the National Ocean Acidification Program.
Many models exist for the structure and governance of program offices. The committee views the following aspects as important to an effective program office: independence from any single federal agency and the ability of successfully gaining the buy-in and commitment from various stakeholders—such as the research community, affected industries, non-federal agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. An independent National Ocean Acidification Program Office could help engage all stakeholders in developing processes to guide the priorities of the diverse activities described in the Strategic Plan. The National Program Office will be the foundation and catalyst for a successful National Ocean Acidification Program.