New directions for the National Ocean Service



The National Ocean Service, which I've headed since December 1983, is one of the major line components of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA, in turn, is part of the Department of Commerce and is the leading federal agency in the oceanic and atmospheric sciences. Other agencies are involved in the earth sciences, such as the Department of the Interior's Geological Survey, or are in the business of environmental regulations, like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but NOAA is the one federal agency charged specifically with analyzing and predicting oceanic and atmospheric components of the earth's environment as a whole. The importance of this global, integrated air-sea approach is reflected in the five NOAA line offices.

This past December, NOAA line offices were reorganized to consolidate programs as part of the Reagan Administration's general government-wide belt tightening (see Figure 1). The idea was for NOAA to grow leaner but stronger. The main thrust of the work of the Weather Service and the Marine Fisheries Service remained the same. The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research continued to provide research support to the other NOAA components. A trimmed down Environmental Data and Information Service merged with the National Environmental Satellite Service to become today's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service. Also, this past December the NOAA Office of Coastal Zone Management joined forces with the National Ocean Survey to become the National Ocean Service.