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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND Objective of the Report In May 1993, managers of the Coastal Ocean Program (COP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began planning with the NRC Panel on the NOAA Coastal Program to review COP achievements and progress over its lifetime and to assist COP in charting its future course. This evaluation included activities within the three themes of the program—Coastal Fisheries Ecosystems (CFE), Coastal Ecosystem Health (CEH), and Coastal Hazards—as well as general program review. COP requested that special attention be given to CFE because its projects had reached mid-life and decisions about their continuance and direction were necessary. The objective of this document is to report the findings of the panel's review of COP and to provide an objective assessment of program activities and its future directions. History of the Program The original goal of COP was to provide information to decisionmakers that would enable the nation to achieve the full potential of its coastal resources and to protect them for the future. “A unifying concept for the COP is improving predictions. The comprehensive science-based goal is to improve predictions of human impacts on: fisheries productivity, environmental quality, and coastal hazards, within the context of natural variability” (COP, 1993). It is clear that many of NOAA's legislative mandates are in science, resource management, and policy for coastal areas. COP-funded research is thus of great importance to NOAA as it attempts to refine and
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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) implement the NOAA strategic plan (NOAA, 1993). It is significant that COP's goals are central to the activities described in the strategic plan. COP has encouraged new partnerships between NOAA and academic scientists for research on important coastal issues (Wenzel and Scavia, 1993). COP had three subordinate goals: Environmental Quality—Improve predictions of coastal pollution to help correct and prevent degradation. Fisheries Productivity—Improve predictions of fish stocks to better conserve and manage living resources. Physical Impacts—Improve predictions of physical impacts on coastal areas to protect life and property. COP proposed to make progress by “capitalizing on resources from all NOAA line offices and the academic community” (COP, 1993). By creating COP as an entity outside the five NOAA line offices, NOAA hoped to support effective coordination and integration of relevant NOAA programs and to provide high level management to the program. Figure 1.1 Coastal Ocean Program Funding History
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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) Budget History COP was formed in 1989 with a budget of $6.4 million. At the time, it was the second cross-line office program to be established within NOAA, following the Climate and Global Change Program. The purpose of these cross-line office programs is to coordinate activities within a subject area among the five NOAA line offices. The two programs mentioned are characterized by an emphasis on high-quality research by joint NOAA-academic groups; a high percentage of their research funding is awarded to scientists outside the agency. Since its inception, COP's budget has grown to $12 million. In FY 1993, 43.5% of its research funding was awarded to academic scientists (see Table 1.1). COP's budget history is shown in Figure 1.1. COP has been ambitious in its plans and these generally have been supported by NOAA, the Department of Commerce, and the Office of Management and Budget. As Congress has evaluated the NOAA budget and overlayed congressional priorities on it, they have increased the COP budget over the years, but to a lesser extent than recommended by the Administration. Panel's Interaction with the Coastal Ocean Program Early in its history, COP asked the National Research Council's Ocean Studies Board (OSB) to provide advice about program structure and function. The Panel on the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (PoCO) was formed by the OSB in 1990 to make recommendations aimed at strengthening the coastal ocean activities of NOAA in general, and to assist COP specifically. The panel's terms of reference are to: Recommend broad scientific programmatic guidelines for NOAA programs focusing on coastal ocean pollution and degradation, living marine resources, and the protection of life and property in coastal areas. Assist in identifying the science and information needs of coastal public decisionmakers. Assist in defining an efficient and cost effective program for NOAA that will complement programs of other agencies in the coastal ocean. Examine and assess ongoing NOAA activities, short- and long-range plans, and institutional arrangements relative to the goals and objectives of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program.
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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) In its first year (from August 1990 to September 1991), the panel met three times to review and evaluate the objectives and the proposed implementation plans for FY 1991 and FY 1992 for all COP elements. A report of the panel's findings, A Review of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (NRC, 1991) summarized the conclusions of the panel after its first year of deliberation. In the period between September 1991 and May 1993, the panel met twice to be informed about the progress of COP activities and to receive follow-up briefings on issues of concern raised in the 1991 panel report. No reports were issued during this period. Evolution of Themes COP originally included eight major themes—Observations and Predictions; Physical Impacts; Toxic Chemical Contaminants; Nutrient Over-Enrichment; Estuarine Habitats; Coastal Fisheries Ecosystems; CoastWatch; and Resource Information Delivery. A Review of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (NRC, 1991 ) recommended that the Observations and Predictions and Physical Impacts themes be combined. COP followed this advice and by 1993 had begun to combine its remaining elements into three broader themes: Coastal Fisheries Ecosystems, Coastal Ecosystem Health, and Coastal Hazards3 (Figure 1.2). Figure 1.2 Evolution of the Coastal Ocean Program 3 The Coastal Hazards theme was recently renamed “Coastal Forecast System.”
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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) CFE includes three programs: Bering Sea Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (FOCI), the South Atlantic Bight Recruitment Experiment (SABRE), and the Predation and Structure of the Georges Bank Ecosystem program. CEH includes activities in nutrient-enhanced productivity, toxic chemical contaminants, estuarine habitats, and economic valuation. The Coastal Hazards theme includes activities on coastal winds, hurricane winds, tsunamis, sea level rise, CoastWatch, and ocean color. It also includes developing coastal forecasting systems for the Great Lakes and the U.S. east coast that could potentially be expanded to apply to the entire U.S. coastal ocean. Some of the original themes fit neatly into the present three themes. The original Resource Information Delivery theme overlaps all three new themes and has been applied to each. COP has only begun to integrate programs within themes. The most developed example is the beginning of a transformation of activities in the Coastal Hazards theme into an integrated Coastal Forecasting System. Importance of NOAA-Academic Partnerships in COP COP was created to promote cooperation among the NOAA line offices in the area of coastal ocean research, and encourage cooperative projects between NOAA and academic scientists. Early in COP's evolution, former NOAA Administrator, Dr. John Knauss, directed COP to award a significant percentage of the program's funds to external scientists. As previously mentioned, COP presently awards 43.5% of its research funds to scientists outside NOAA (see Table 1.1). COP has brought NOAA and academic resources together in a number of ways. As the subgroups of the panel examined COP activities, it became obvious that NOAA base support, in addition to COP research funds, has been very important to conduct several COP projects. This additional NOAA support has been primarily in the form of NOAA personnel salaries, research vessel support, and equipment. Without this support, the accomplishments of some programs, such as the Bering Sea FOCI and SABRE in CFE and Nutrient Enhanced Coastal Ocean Productivity-Mississippi-Atchafalaya Rivers (NECOP-MAR) in CEH, would not have been possible. NOAA should continue to use its resources—personnel, research vessels, computer time, and equipment—to support COP programs. This policy leverages existing NOAA resources and strengthens the partnerships and positive interactions among NOAA scientists and between NOAA and academic scientists. COP encourages a positive synergy when NOAA and academic scientists are brought together to conduct science that addresses NOAA problems.
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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) Finally, COP has involved both NOAA and academic scientists in various advisory activities. At any given time, there are 50 to 100 scientists advising COP at the COP, theme, program, and project levels. The panel believes that advice from external scientists has improved many aspects of COP. The majority of these advisors serve on program-or project-level Technical Advisory Committees. COP should seek more external advice at the theme level, while streamlining its program- and project-level advisory structures to decrease overhead costs. NOAA Strategic Plan The NOAA strategic plan (NOAA, 1993) provides a context within which NOAA will evaluate its future activities and rationalize its many and varied responsibilities. The great emphasis of the NOAA strategic plan on coastal issues provides a clear rationale for a strong COP that performs a valuable service to NOAA by sponsoring research that lays a scientific foundation for future prediction, management, and mitigation activities. The NOAA strategic plan has major sections on coastal ecosystems health (p. II-3-1), building sustainable fisheries (p. II-1-1), and advancing short-term warning and forecast services (p. III-1-1 ), which relate directly to present COP themes. Planning, Review, and Advisory Structures COP initially performed planning and evaluation through its National Office staff, and later some aspects were carried out by PoCO. As time passed, COP implemented a management and review structure to provide objective, detailed advice on each theme. PoCO encouraged this development and provided advice to COP about the structure of its advisory mechanism and composition of its various advisory groups. At present, these advisory groups do not interact with each other. Program Characteristics The National Coastal Ocean Program Office (NCOPO) is responsible primarily for conducting COP-related activities, but also has other responsibilities related to NOAA coastal ocean science, such as the Regional Marine Research Program, staffing the Water Resources and Coastal and Marine Environments Research Subcommittee of the White House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Research, and NOAA-wide oversight for the new Center for Coastal Ecosystem Health at Charleston, South Carolina. Of the staff employed by NCOPO, approximately seven full-time equivalents (FTEs) are required to provide direct support for COP-specific activities.
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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) This yields a value of $1.7 million per FTE, midway between the values for the National Sea Grant College Program ($1.2 million per FTE) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) ($2.2 million per FTE), and lower than the National Science Foundation (NSF) ($4.4 million per FTE) (NRC, 1994). COP has a less extensive review structure than Sea Grant, being more comparable to NSF and ONR, but NCOPO staff are heavily involved in managing themes and coordinating activities of investigators they support. If dollars per FTE is negatively correlated with grant size, however, this would confound comparisons among agencies whose median grant size differs. COP provided quantitative information about the accomplishments and productivity of the program (Table 1.1). Differences in the numbers of publications and number of investigators among the themes were attributed by COP staff to the different natures and relative maturities of the themes. For example, much of the research funded in CEH is performed by single investigators in projects with durations of one to two years, so that several project cycles have been completed and results have been published. In contrast, CFE supports large multi-investigator projects that have not yet completed a project cycle. Outline of Report The three COP themes are evaluated in detail in the following chapters. For each theme, the review includes: Goals and Objectives—Reviews the evolution of the goals and objectives and the extent to which they address fundamental questions. Progress and Quality—Outlines progress toward the goals and objectives, and the quality of research and development efforts from the beginning of COP to the present. Evaluates the extent to which results from scientific tasks have been synthesized to achieve progress toward objectives and goals. Utility of the Research—Reviews the extent to which each program has identified and interacted with target audiences or users of the information, both NOAA managers and external users. Theme Management—Outlines the planning process as well as future plans for COP programs, with an emphasis on the processes by which the plans are being developed.
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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) Responsiveness to Past Reviews—Discusses how responsive COP themes have been to any previous reviews. Future Plans—Evaluates future plans and makes recommendations for the future of themes and programs. Table 1.1 Performance Measures for the Coastal Ocean Program, by Theme. Performance Measure CFE CEH Coastal Hazards Total COP Peer-reviewed Publications1 20 81 27 128 Academic Investigators Supported2 34 (of 51 total) 115 (of 183 total) 7 (of 34 total) 156 (of 268 total) Percent of Funding for External PIs3 46% 51% 24% 43.5% Percent of Total COP Research Funding4 25% 52% 23% 100% 1 Printed or in press, over the life of the program 2 Number of individual academic scientists who have received support over the life of the program 3 Exclusive of NCOPO overhead (5% of total COP appropriation), FY 1993. Actual NCOPO overhead rate is 8%, being funded through the variety of activities for which COP is responsible. 4 In FY 1993 The panel divided into three subgroups, one devoted to each theme, and specifically responsible for one chapter of this report. In addition, three outside experts were invited to provide input on the Coastal Fisheries Ecosystems themes.4 The report also includes a discussion of other, cross-cutting issues. Because the 4 George Boehlert (National Marine Fisheries Service), Donald Olson (University of Miami), and David Townsend (University of Maine).
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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) nomenclatures used by the various COP elements are not always consistent, the panel chose to use a common nomenclature for this report. Thus, the report reviews the three themes, the programs that are sub-theme elements, and projects that are sub-program elements. Moreover, some themes and program names have been changed since the review, as indicated where appropriate. References Coastal Ocean Program. 1993. COP Factsheets. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce , Washington, D.C., 36 pp. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 1993. NOAA 1995-2005 Strategic Plan. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C. National Research Council. 1991. A Review of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 24 pp. National Research Council. 1994. A Review of the NOAA National Sea Grant College Program. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 85 pp. Wenzel, L. and D. Scavia. 1993. NOAA's Coastal Ocean Program—Science for Solutions. Oceanus 36:85-92.
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