the film
Commentaries and editorials

NOAA Strategic Plan
for Future Course Under Review

by CBB Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - June 20, 2003

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Ocean Service is testing its new strategic plan, based on corporate-style performance plans, with the public. The plan out for review until June 21 charts the course for the agency, a division of the Department of Commerce, through 2008.

The draft plan is the result of interviews with over 1,000 stakeholders, as well as NOAA employees, according to Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.) and Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere. He said that the 21st century is bringing new challenges and priorities to the federal agency that includes NOAA Fisheries and the National Weather Service, among other functions. Those challenges include climate change, freshwater supply, ecosystem management and homeland security.

"This Strategic Plan is NOAA's response to all of these challenges," Lautenbacher writes in the plan's forward. "It responds to the President's Management Agenda for a citizen-centered, performance-driven organization that serves every American every day. And it provides a blueprint for ensuring value and corporate accountability in NOAA's daily operations."

The draft plan calls for an ecosystem-based management approach for coastal and ocean resources, more work to understand climate change and support of the nation's commerce.

"Sound environmental policy is a solid foundation for economic growth," Lautenbacher says. "Emphasis on the Nation's needs for expanded commerce and economic development throughout the Plan directly relates to the Administration's (referring to the Bush Administration) focus on a healthy and growing economy."

Agreeing with a recent report by the PEW Oceans Commission, NOAA's plan says that U.S. coastal areas are among the most developed in the nation and points to the economic engine created at the fringes of the continent.

"Within this context, NOAA works with its partners to achieve a balance between the use and protection of these resources to ensure their sustainability, health and vitality for the benefit of this and future generations and their optimal contribution to the Nation's economy and society," the plan says.

To this end, it calls for protecting and restoring ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources, recovering protected species and rebuilding sustainable fisheries, all using an "integrated ecosystem management approach." In the short term that will require protecting habitat and species and working with other governments and agencies to apply the ecosystem approach.

NOAA also proposes improvements to its weather forecasting systems as it recognizes the economic impacts and potential losses due to weather and climate change.

"These activities will accelerate the development of a structure and process for improving the relevance of climate science to assist decision-makers in their development of . adaptation responses (actions to reduce vulnerability, seize opportunities, and enhance resilience) to variability and long-term changes in the climate, particularly for industry, natural resource and water managers, community planners, and public health professionals," the plan says.

The final two goals contained within the plan are to serve society's needs for weather and water information and to support the nation's commerce with information for safe, efficient and environmentally sound transportation, both water borne and air borne transportation.

The plan concludes with a statement about building a new corporate culture within NOAA. It says the next step is to align all NOAA projects and programs "to this entrepreneurial framework." That will be the job of NOAA management during 2003.

The draft strategic plan is available for public review and comment through June 21.

Related Sites:
Strategic Plan:
Response to the Plan:

by CBB Staff
NOAA Strategic Plan for Future Course Under Review
Columbia Basin Bulletin, June 20, 2003

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