Capitol in spring

The Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) is governed by the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act (ICOOS Act)  which authorizes the establishment of a National Integrated Ocean Observing System (System) and codifies a governance structure within which the System will operate. The Act was signed on March 30, 2009, by President Barack Obama.

The Act explicitly vests authority in NOAA as the lead federal agency for implementation and administration of the System and charges NOAA to establish a U.S. IOOS Program Office. In addition, NOAA is required to carry out its responsibilities in consultation with federal agency and regional partners.

The ICOOS Act includes specific tasks and requirements to be executed. Among the long list of activities are the preparation of System plans and budgets, the development of certification standards for non-federal assets, identification of gaps in observing coverage or needs for capital improvements, creating a merit-based competitive funding process, developing a national data management and communications system, establishing a System Advisory Committee, drafting a public-private use policy process, completing an independent cost estimate, writing a biennial congressional report and many others.

Along with NOAA, the ICOOS Act identifies two inter-agency bodies to carry out these tasks and requirements. The two entities below are given the responsibility to oversee the coordination and administration of the System:

  • The National Ocean Research Leadership Council (NORLC)Currently, the National Ocean Council Deputy-level Committee has assumed the duties of the statutorily mandated NORLC. The NORLC was created by Congress as a part of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) in Fiscal Year 1998 (Public Law 105-85).
  • The Interagency Ocean Observation Committee (IOOC) – Led by three federal Co-Chairs and supported by agency representatives and support staff, the IOOC is responsible for implementing procedural, technical, and scientific requirements to ensure full execution of the System. Interagency collaboration is essential to achieve ocean science and technology priorities and, in particular, for planning and coordination of the System. 

Background Documents

Reports to Congress