capitol_spring_fountainICOOS Act Requirements and Responsible Groups

In March of 2009, President Obama signed the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act of 2009 (ICOOS Act). establishing statutory authority for the development of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). The ICOOS Act mandates the establishment of a national integrated system of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes observing systems coordinated at the federal level.

Required Activities

Establish a National Integrated Coastal Ocean Observation System

ICOOS Act Section 12304(a) – Establishment- The President, acting through the Council, shall establish a National Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System to fulfill the purposes set forth in section 12302 of this subtitle and the System Plan and to fulfill the Nation’s international obligations to contribute to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems and the Global Ocean Observing System.

Develop and Publish a Public Private Use Policy

ICOOS Act Section 12308 – The Council shall develop a policy within 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act that defines processes for making decisions about the roles of the Federal Government, the States, regional information coordination entities, the academic community, and the private sector in providing to end-user communities environmental information, products, technologies, and services related to the System. The Council shall publish the policy in the Federal Register for public comment for a period not less than 60 days. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require changes in policy in effect on the date of enactment of this Act.

Develop and Transmit Annual and Long Term Plans and Budgets

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(1)(A) – approve and adopt comprehensive System budgets developed and maintained by the Interagency Ocean Observation Committee to support System operations, including operations of both Federal and non-Federal assets;

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(2)(A) – prepare annual and long-term plans for consideration and approval by the Council for the integrated design, operation, maintenance, enhancement and expansion of the System to meet the objectives of this subtitle and the System Plan;

ICOOA Act Section 12304(c)(2)(B) – develop and transmit to Congress at the time of submission of the President’s annual budget request an annual coordinated, comprehensive budget to operate all elements of the System identified in subsection (b), and to ensure continuity of data streams from Federal and non-Federal assets;

Establish Observation Data Variables

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(2)(C) – establish required observation data variables to be gathered by both Federal and non-Federal assets and identify, in consultation with regional information coordination entities, priorities for System observations;

Develop Contract Certification Standards, Compliance Procedures and Program Guidelines

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(2)(E) – develop contract certification standards and compliance procedures for all non-Federal assets, including regional information coordination entities, to establish eligibility for integration into the System and to ensure compliance with all applicable standards and protocols established by the Council, and ensure that regional observations are integrated into the System on a sustained basis;

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3)(C) – promulgate program guidelines to certify and integrate non-Federal assets, including regional information coordination entities, into the System to provide regional coastal and ocean observation data that meet the needs of user groups from the respective regions;

Establish Observation Coverage Gaps or Capital Improvement Needs

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(2)(F) – identify gaps in observation coverage or needs for capital improvements of both Federal assets and non-Federal assets;

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3)(I) – formulate an annual process by which gaps in observation coverage or needs for capital improvements of Federal assets and non-Federal assets of the System are identified by the regional information coordination entities, the Administrator, or other members of the System and transmitted to the Interagency Ocean Observing Committee;

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(4)(A)(ii) – identify gaps in observation coverage needs for capital improvements of Federal assets and non-Federal assets of the System, or other recommendations to assist in the development of the annual and long-term plans created pursuant to subsection (c)(2)(A)(i) and transmit such information to the Interagency Ocean Observing Committee via the Program Office;

Obtain Independent Cost Estimate

ICOOS Act Section 12309 – Within 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Interagency Ocean Observation Committee, through the Administrator and the Director of the National Science Foundation, shall obtain an independent cost estimate for operations and maintenance of existing Federal assets of the System, and planned or anticipated acquisition, operation, and maintenance of new Federal assets for the System, including operation facilities, observation equipment, modeling and software, data management and communication, and other essential components. The independent cost estimate shall be transmitted unabridged and without revision by the Administrator to Congress.

Establish an IOOS Program Office within NOAA

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3)(A) – establish an Integrated Ocean Observing Program Office within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration utilizing to the extent necessary, personnel from member agencies participating on the Interagency Ocean Observation Committee, to oversee daily operations and coordination of the System;
Review and Evaluate Non-Federal Assets

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3)(H) – develop and implement a process for the periodic review and evaluation of regional information coordination entities;
Implement a Merit-Based Competitive Funding Process to Support Non-Federal Assets

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3)(E) – implement a merit-based, competitive funding process to support non-Federal assets, including the development and maintenance of a network of regional information coordination entities, and develop and implement a process for the periodic review and evaluation of all non-Federal assets, including regional information coordination entities;

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3)(F) – provide opportunities for competitive contracts and grants for demonstration projects to design, develop, integrate, deploy, and support components of the System;

Establish Protocols for and Develop a Data Management and Communication System

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(2)(D) – establish protocols and standards for System data processing, management, and communication;

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3)(J) – develop and be responsible for a data management and communication system, in accordance with standards and protocols established by the Council, by which all data collected by the System regarding ocean and coastal waters of the United States including the Great Lakes, are processed, stored, integrated, and made available to all end-user communities;

Implement a Public Education and Outreach Program

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3)(K) – implement a program of public education and outreach to improve public awareness of global climate change and effects on the ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes environment;

Establish a System Advisory Committee

ICOOS Act Section 12304(d)(1) – The Administrator shall establish or designate a System advisory committee, which shall provide advice as may be requested by the Administrator or the Interagency Ocean Observing Committee.

ICOOS Act Section 12304(d)(4)(B) – ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT- The Administrator shall provide administrative support to the System advisory committee.

Respond to Reporting Requirements

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3)(L) – report annually to the Interagency Ocean Observing Committee on the accomplishments, operational needs, and performance of the System to contribute to the annual and long-term plans developed pursuant to subsection (c)(2)(A)(i);

ICOOS Act Section 12307 –

(a) Requirement –
Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act and every 2 years thereafter, the Administrator shall prepare and the President acting through the Council shall approve and transmit to the Congress a report on progress made in implementing this subtitle.

(b) Contents – The report shall include:
(1) a description of activities carried out under this subtitle and the System Plan;
(2) an evaluation of the effectiveness of the System, including an evaluation of progress made by the Council to achieve the goals identified under the System Plan;
(3) identification of Federal and non-Federal assets as determined by the Council that have been integrated into the System, including assets essential to the gathering of required observation data variables necessary to meet the respective missions of Council agencies;
(4) a review of procurements, planned or initiated, by each Council agency to enhance, expand, or modernize the observation capabilities and data products provided by the System, including data management and communication subsystems;
(5) an assessment regarding activities to integrate Federal and non-Federal assets, nationally and on the regional level, and discussion of the performance and effectiveness of regional information coordination entities to coordinate regional observation operations;
(6) a description of benefits of the program to users of data products resulting from the System (including the general public, industries, scientists, resource managers, emergency responders, policy makers, and educators);
(7) recommendations concerning –
(A) modifications to the System; and
(B) funding levels for the System in subsequent fiscal years; and

(8) the results of a periodic external independent programmatic audit of the System.

Demonstrate Capable Organizational Structure & Operate under a Strategic Operational Plan

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(4)(A)(i) – demonstrate an organizational structure capable of gathering required System observation data, supporting and integrating all aspects of coastal and ocean observing and information programs within a region and that reflects the needs of State and local governments, commercial interests, and other users and beneficiaries of the System and other requirements specified under this subtitle and the System Plan;

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(4)(A)(iii) – develop and operate under a strategic operational plan that will ensure the efficient and effective administration of programs and assets to support daily data observations for integration into the System, pursuant to the standards approved by the Council

Additional Required Activities

ICOOS Act Section 12304(b)(2) – The head of each Federal agency that has administrative jurisdiction over a Federal asset shall support the purposes of this subtitle and may take appropriate actions to enhance internal agency administration and management to better support, integrate, finance, and utilize observation data, products, and services developed under this section to further its own agency mission and responsibilities.

ICOOS Act Section 12304(b)(3) – The head of each Federal agency that has administrative jurisdiction over a Federal asset shall make available data that are produced by that asset and that are not otherwise restricted for integration, management, and dissemination by the System.

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(1) – COUNCIL FUNCTIONS- The Council shall serve as the policy and coordination oversight body for all aspects of the System. In carrying out its responsibilities under this subtitle, the Council shall…

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(1)(B) – [The Council shall] ensure coordination of the System with other domestic and international earth observing activities including the Global Ocean Observing System and the Global Earth Observing System of Systems, and provide, as appropriate, support for and representation on United States delegations to international meetings on coastal and ocean observing programs

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(2) – INTERAGENCY OCEAN OBSERVATION COMMITTEE- The Council shall establish or designate an Interagency Ocean Observation Committee which shall –

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(2)(G) – subject to the availability of appropriations, establish through one or more participating Federal agencies, in consultation with the System advisory committee established under subsection (d), a competitive matching grant or other programs –

(i) to promote intramural and extramural research and development of new, innovative, and emerging observation technologies including testing and field trials; and

(ii) to facilitate the migration of new, innovative, and emerging scientific and technological advances from research and development to operational deployment;

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3) – LEAD FEDERAL AGENCY- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shall function as the lead Federal agency for the implementation and administration of the System, in consultation with the Council, the Interagency Ocean Observation Committee, other Federal agencies that maintain portions of the System, and the regional information coordination entities, and shall..

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3)(B) – implement policies, protocols, and standards approved by the Council and delegated by the Interagency Ocean Observing Committee;

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3)(G) – establish efficient and effective administrative procedures for allocation of funds among contractors, grantees, and non-Federal assets, including regional information coordination entities in a timely manner, and contingent on appropriations according to the budget adopted by the Council;

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3)(M) – develop a plan to efficiently integrate into the System new, innovative, or emerging technologies that have been demonstrated to be useful to the System and which will fulfill the purposes of this subtitle and the System Plan

ICOOS Act Responsible Groups

The ICOOS Act also assigns tasks associated with building and implementing the U.S. IOOS to specific groups:


Council – The National Ocean Research Leadership Council

ICOOS Act Section 12303(2) – COUNCIL- The term ‘Council’ means the National Ocean
Research Leadership Council established by section 7902 of title 10, United States Code.

Committee – Interagency Ocean Observation Committe

ICOOS Act Section 1230(4) – INTERAGENCY OCEAN OBSERVATION COMMITTEE- The term `Interagency Ocean Observation Committee’ means the committee established under section 12304(c)(2).


Lead Federal Agency – NOAA

ICOOS Act Section 12304(c)(3)– LEAD FEDERAL AGENCY- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shall function as the lead Federal agency for the implementation and administration of the System, in consultation with the Council, the Interagency Ocean Observation Committee, other Federal agencies that maintain portions of the System, and the regional information coordination entities.


RICEs – Regional Information Coordination Entities

ICOOS Act Section 12303(6)– REGIONAL INFORMATION COORDINATION ENTITIES-

(A) IN GENERAL- The term `regional information coordination entity’ means an organizational body that is certified or established by contract or memorandum by the lead Federal agency designated in section 12304(c)(3) of this subtitle and coordinates State, Federal, local, and private interests at a regional level with the responsibility of engaging the private and public sectors in designing, operating, and improving regional coastal and ocean observing systems in order to ensure the provision of data and information that meet the needs of user groups from the respective regions.

(B) CERTAIN INCLUDED ASSOCIATIONS- The term `regional information coordination entity’ includes regional associations described in the System Plan.


Federal Agencies

ICOOS Act Section 12303(b)(2) – ENHANCING ADMINISTRATION AND MANAGEMENT- The head of each Federal agency that has administrative jurisdiction over a Federal asset shall support the purposes of this subtitle and may take appropriate actions to enhance internal agency administration and management to better support, integrate, finance, and utilize observation data, products, and services developed under this section to further its own agency mission and responsibilities.

ICOOS Act Section 12303(b)(3) – AVAILABILITY OF DATA- The head of each Federal agency that has administrative jurisdiction over a Federal asset shall make available data that are produced by that asset and that are not otherwise restricted for integration, management, and dissemination by the System.