This Five Year R&D Plan (hereafter the “Plan”) will guide NOAA’s R&D activities over the next five years. The Plan provides a common understanding among NOAA’s leadership, its workforce, its partners, constituents, and Congress on the value of NOAA’s R&D activities. As such, the Plan is a framework with which NOAA and the public can monitor and evaluate the Agency’s progress and learn from past experience.
The Plan builds upon the strategic foundation laid by NOAA’s Next Generation Strategic Plan and the NOAA 20 Year Research Vision. NOAA’s Next Generation Strategic Plan focuses all Agency work (including R&D) around four long-term goals of Climate, Weather, Oceans, and Coasts. The NOAA 20 Year Research Vision accounts for the social and environmental trends impacting NOAA and its mission, and considers how particular innovations enable us to mitigate or adapt to these changes. This Plan has also been informed by strategic implementation plans developed across the Agency, and will inform annual revisions to these plans. Furthermore, this Plan has benefited from the results of NOAA’s recent science challenge workshops, as well as from the input of NOAA scientists, engineers, and partners.
Section 1 introduces R&D as a critical part of NOAA’s mission, particularly in light of the Agency’s vision for the Nation: resilience in the face of change. Section 2 is the body of the document – NOAA’s R&D strategy. NOAA’s strategic goals and enterprise objectives frame a number of key questions that can only be answered through research or development. Underneath each question are specific objectives and discrete, five-year targets for R&D that lay the path forward for NOAA.
The R&D objectives and targets provide the link to NOAA’s corporate process for Strategy Execution and Evaluation and, as such, represent the desired outcomes for decisions in Agency-wide planning and budgeting. They explain what the Agency will strive to do – in coordination with our partners in academia, industry, the non-profit sector, and in government institutions at the federal, international, state, tribal, and municipal levels. Some key questions in this Plan will be difficult to answer. Some objectives are less certain than others. Some targets may not be met. Still, we shall act knowing that success may only be partial; this is the nature of R&D. The prospect of failure does not stop the Agency from setting bold targets, nor from stating such ambitions publicly. NOAA and its stakeholders understand that R&D is inherently risky, and there is as much to learn from the results we do not expect as from those we do. Learning from either, however, requires that we make our goals clear before attempting to realize them.
The remaining sections describe how NOAA will execute the strategy outlined in Section 2. Section 3 describes the assets – people, places, and things – that NOAA will bring to address the R&D needs of NOAA and the Nation. Section 4 describes the values of a healthy R&D enterprise and the unique capabilities needed to manage it effectively. The appendices offer additional details on the legislation driving NOAA R&D, the organizational units that fund and conduct it, and other supporting information.