SOURCE: National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA)

National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA)

September 22, 2010 12:00 ET

National Academy of Public Administration Recommends Formation of New Climate Service Office

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - September 22, 2010) -  The federal government should change the way it organizes and executes its climate science responsibilities and establish a new office within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as the lead federal entity for research and services, according to a National Academy of Public Administration panel of experts.

A national climate service, bringing together NOAA's disparate climate functions, has long been discussed by the current and prior administrations. The National Academy panel recommended that the federal government take action now to expand its delivery of systematic and authoritative climate information services to state, local and tribal governments and to the public.

"Standing up a NOAA Climate Service is the beginning of the journey, not the final destination," said Jennifer L. Dorn, president and CEO of the National Academy. "NOAA will face some tough challenges as it realigns its current operations to improve its research and services and to build even stronger relationships with its federal, state, and local government and academic partners. The real test will be the impact that the NOAA Climate Service has on our nation's ability to sustain environmental quality, minimize risks to life and property, and help America maintain its economic strength."

"The Commerce Department and NOAA are grateful to the National Academy expert panel and staff for their thorough and insightful recommendations to help us best organize and orient a new Climate Service in NOAA," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "In addition to strongly supporting the need for a single NOAA line office that includes both climate science and services, the panel provided sound advice for NOAA to collaborate with our federal and academic partners to support the needs of decision-makers around the nation that use climate information."

"There is a compelling case to change the way that NOAA organizes and executes its climate responsibilities," said panel chair Michael P. Jackson, former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "With the proper organizational design, top leadership support and realistic expectations, this new office can make a positive and lasting difference at a time when the need is growing for impartial and authoritative climate science."

In its report, the panel urged NOAA to organize the new office around its principal outcomes and outputs: climate products and services, including research results. This will protect the linkages that allow NOAA to provide its current value and enable its capacity to grow. Specifically, the panel recommended that NOAA:

  • Use a flexible approach to building a service design, development and delivery infrastructure with a dedicated cadre of skilled personnel, not a physical infrastructure tied to geographic regions. 
  • Appoint a career assistant administrator to head the new line office and career SES-level directors to head its three operating elements: Research and Modeling; Data Information and Products; and Service Design and Delivery.
  • Move into the new office key climate-related components of the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research; National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service; and National Weather Service.

The Panel cautioned that the new organization will grow iteratively, but probably more slowly than many would like. This will make it critical to rigorously prioritize new research and service offerings.

To read the report, go to www.napawash.org.

The National Academy of Public Administration is a non-profit, independent organization of top public management and organizational leaders who tackle the nation's most complex challenges. With a network of more than 650 distinguished Fellows and experienced professional staff, the National Academy provides objective advice and practical solutions based on systematic research and expert analysis.

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