Draft 3.1 of the SDS Implementation Plan is sound and comprehensive; NOAA should immediately begin implementing the program while revising it along the lines of the recommendations in this report. The committee has identified several ways in which to improve the program plan, most importantly by clarifying advisory mechanisms, providing more detail about how NOAA will coordinate with important partners in generating CDRs, articulating how the program will prioritize its activities, and developing ways to realistically project future costs.
Clarifying Advisory Mechanisms:
The revised plan should provide clear definitions of the advisory committees, their roles and responsibilities, and their makeup and selection.
The committee recommends separating the proposed working groups for SDS and CLASS, which have to be well coordinated but should function separately to advise their respective activities.
The FCDR and TCDR teams should be composed of NOAA and other scientists and engineers. Support for participation in this activity should be provided by NOAA and other agencies.
Coordinating with Important Partners:
The committee suggests that NOAA organize its SDS partners (i.e., government agencies, universities, private industry, and international entities) into a matrix arrangement that illustrates the strengths of each organization relative to CDR generation and maintenance, and initiate collaborations and discussions at the earliest opportunities.
The revised implementation plan should state how FCDRs will be prioritized for their conversion to TCDRs and distribution to the science community.
The plan does not specify which CDRs or other activities among the wide range of responsibilities of the SDS program will receive priority. A process for the specific prioritization of and methodologies for CDR generation was described in the recommendations of the committee’s first report (NRC, 2004) and should be applied to ensure that the limited resources are employed most effectively.
Developing Realistic Budget Projections:
The SDS program should develop more detailed estimates of future resource needs and seek the funding necessary to meet its stated objectives. Detailed budget planning is important because the full scope of FCDRs and TCDRs described in the plan clearly cannot be sustained within the current budget level, especially if NOAA is to exert national leadership for satellite-based CDRs and to take on a larger role in international Earth observing efforts.