NOSC Terms of Reference

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A. Governance and Purpose

1. The NOAA Observing Systems Council (NOSC) is one of NOAA's three Strategy Councils. These councils provide analyses and recommendations related to the NOAA functions that require multi-Line Office leadership and guidance. The councils are advisory bodies that support NOAA's decision makers, including the NOAA Administrator, in managing and overseeing strategic agency priorities. The Chairs of the three Strategy Councils are appointed by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere (NOAA Administrator), and report directly to the NOAA Executive Council (NEC).

2. Additionally, in accordance with NOAA Administrative Order 216-111, the NOAA Strategy Councils must:

  1. Use corporate strategy as the primary means to frame and focus their proceedings.

  2. Assess the impact of Strategic Prioritization and Budget Formulation proposals to their strategic portfolio.

  3. Advise the NOAA Executive Panel (NEP) and the NEC, as appropriate, throughout the planning, budgeting, decision making, and oversight process.

3. The NOSC is the principal advisory body to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere (NOAA Administrator) in matters regarding NOAA's integrated observing systems portfolio and data management activities (end-to-end collection, processing, storage, archiving, accessing, and disseminating of environmental data, information and products). It also serves as NOAA's principal coordinating body to the White House Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Sustainability (CENRS) Subcommittee on Earth Observations (US Group on Earth Observations (USGEO)). NOSC responsibilities and activities are established in NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 212-16. Specific tasks include:

  1. Coordinating Earth observing and environmental data management activities across NOAA, including with other NOAA Councils.

  2. Providing policies and guidance in the development of NOAA's integrated earth observating and data management system.

  3. Providing recommendations to the NOAA Executive Council (NEC) on Earth observation and environmental data management system requirements, architectures, emerging technologies, and investments.

B. Membership

  1. Chair: Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction

  2. Vice-Chairs:
    1. Assistant Administrator for Satellite and Information Services
    2. Assistant Administrator for Weather Services
    3. Director, NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations

  3. Executive Secretariat and Contact Person: Staffed by the Technology, Planning and Integration for Observations (TPIO) division.

  4. Principals: Appointed by the AAs and Office Directors. Includes representatives from the following:
    1. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
    2. Chief Information Officer (CIO)
    3. National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS)
    4. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
    5. National Ocean Service (NOS)
    6. National Weather Service (NWS)
    7. Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR)
    8. Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO)

  5. Non-Voting Members:
    1. Observing Systems Committee (OSC) Co-Chairs
    2. Environmental Data Management Committee (EDMC) Chair
    3. NOAA Representative, United States Group on Earth Observations (USGEO)
    4. Office of Space Commerce
    5. Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology (OFCM)

  6. Advisor. Director, TPIO. TPIO is a technical division that provides corporate analytical capabilities to directly support NOSC and AS/EOP in the implementation of observing systems portfolio management.

C. Committees/Teams/Working Groups

  1. The Council may form committees, teams, or working groups (WG) to achieve specific tasks. Such committees/teams/WG may include persons who are not members of the Council, but the Council will seek to include a Council Member on all committees. The NOSC may designate either standing or ad hoc committees/teams/WG. Committees in turn may establish teams or WGs. Currently there are two standing committees: the Environmental Data Management Committee (EDMC) and the Observing Systems Committee (OSC). Additionally, there are two working groups: the Low-Earth Orbiting Requirements Working Group (LORWG); and the Geostationary Earth Orbiting Satellite Operational Requirements Working Group (GORWG).

  2. Committees will use the same decision making process followed by the Council. The Council may terminate committees/teams/WG at its discretion.

D. Roles and Responsibilities

  1. Council

    1. Maintain cognizance over NOAA Earth observation and environmental data management systems activities while coordinating NOAA participation in national and international Earth observation efforts (e.g., US Group on Earth Observations (USGEO)).

    2. Provide oversight and guidance as appropriate to facilitate development of NOAA’s earth observation and environmental data management systems investment strategy that supports the high level strategic guidance issued by the Department of Commerce, NOAA (e.g., the NOAA Annual Guidance Memorandum), and relevant LOs and Staff Offices, as well as the principles articulated in NAO 212-16.

    3. Review Earth observation and environmental data management systems requirements and endorse processes used to validate those requirements.

    4. Assess Earth observation and environmental data management system architecture alternatives based on analyses and recommendations provided by TPIO, LOs, and other committees, teams, and/or work groups as appropriate. Working with NOAA Line Offices, the NOSC identifies:

      1. Best practices and procedures for portfolio management of NOAA’s observing systems,

      2. NOAA observation requirements,

      3. NOAA observing system and data management capabilities,

      4. Gaps between requirements and capabilities. and

      5. Observing system and data management solutions to fulfill NOAA observation requirements (i.e., close the gaps)

    5. Develop recommended prioritization of Earth observation and environmental data management systems investments.

    6. Conduct an annual assessment of the state of health, perfomance and risk factors of selected observing systems to inform NEP and NEC of potential impacts on NOAA mission requirements.

    7. Identify emerging Earth observing technologies, promote broader awareness and connectivity of emerging technologies research and development activities across NOAA, and develop recommendations to help NOAA infuse new technology into the observing system portfolio. Collaborate with the Research and Ocean and Coastal Councils in these efforts, as appropriate.

    8. Recommend acquisition of appropriate Earth observation and environmental data management systems to meet NOAA requirements.

    9. Lead or provide input to responses to information requests, audits and studies about the observing systems portfolio, particularly those with an impact across all of NOAA, or multiple Line Offices.

    10. Coordinate, as appropriate, with the other Strategy Councils and NOAA internal ad hoc groups engaged in observing systems and data management activities.

    11. Coordinate, as appropriate, with NOAA partners with respect to data collection, access, and utilization.

  2. Chair and Vice Chairs.

    1. Direct council activities

    2. Preside over council meetings

  3. Members.

    1. Attend all council meetings, or delegate decision making authority to an alternate attendee for NOSC deliberations and decisions.

    2. Identify LO points of contact for interaction with the NOSC Secretariat, as needed.

    3. Accomplish taskings as directed by NOSC Co-Chair and Vice Chairs.

E. Meeting Frequency.

Meetings are held monthly; special session meetings will also occasionally be called by the Chair.

F. Decision Making Process

Decisions will be reached by informed consensus. The Chair makes the final decision when consensus is not achieved.