Evolution of NOAA's Observing System Investment Assessment Process

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 3:30 PM
226C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Eric Miller, NOAA/NESDIS, Silver Spring, MD; and H. W. Tileston III

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) relies on Earth observations from more than 200 observing systems developed and fielded over many years. In satisfying specific observing requirements, each system contributes to the overall accomplishment of NOAA's mission, which in some cases, involves fulfilling international commitments. NOAA has traditionally acquired observing systems one at a time to satisfy a limited set of observing requirements for a specific user, with limited consideration for inter-dependencies among systems and the potential benefits to the entire NOAA and federal services enterprise. With approximately 50% ($2.7B) of NOAA's annual budget spent on developing, acquiring, deploying, and maintaining operational and research environmental observing systems, NOAA requires an effective observing system portfolio management approach.

The question of which systems or combination of systems yields the greatest value is paramount as a consequence of budgetary pressures and the increasing size, complexity, and rising costs of both individual systems and the observing enterprise as a whole. Since 2005, NOAA's Technology, Planning, and Integration for Observations (TPIO) Division has been developing, implementing, and improving a methodology to evaluate proposed observing system investments and provide this information to NOAA leadership. In December 2011, TPIO completed the NOAA Observing Systems Integrated Analysis (NOSIA I) pilot study which sought to develop a repeatable integrated analysis capability. It confined itself to the observing systems that observe upper air moisture, temperature, and winds. The success of this approach was so noteworthy that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) directed use of the NOSIA process for the first Federal Earth Observations Assessment (EOA I). This effort extended across 13 Federal agencies and was a key element in the development of the first National Earth Observations Plan published in July 2014 .

As a result of the success of both NOSIA I and EOA I, the NOAA Observing Systems Council (the principal advisory body to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere in matters regarding NOAA's Integrated Earth Observation and Environmental Data Management System Architecture activities) directed the complete build out of NOSIA I (NOSIA II) across NOAA's entire observing system enterprise. Completion of the NOSIA II effort resulted in a first ever capability to link the impact of single and multiple observing systems and data sources on the key products and services NOAA produces within each of its mission service areas. The capability of determining the relative value and impact of observing systems across the enterprise provides NOAA leadership with valuable input to the observing system investment decision process.

The unprecedented success of the NOSIA I, EOA I and NOSIA II efforts resulted in OSTP again directing the employment of the NOSIA process in the second Earth Observations Assessment (EOA II).

Key Words: NOAA, earth observations, potential benefits, inter-dependencies, federal services enterprise, portfolio management, environmental observing system investment