Need To Strengthen Coordination of Ocean Pollution Research

Gao ID: CED-82-108 July 14, 1982

GAO conducted a review to determine whether the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) implementation of the National Ocean Pollution Planning Act had improved the coordination of federal ocean pollution research development and monitoring.

NOAA has made considerable progress toward implementing the act. It has: (1) issued a plan and one revision containing extensive catalogs of federal ocean pollution research projects, (2) conducted a detailed review of oil pollution, which contributed to a Department of the Interior decision to intensify research on the long-term effects of off-shore drilling, (3) influenced the distribution of some NOAA research grants, and (4) improved communication among researchers and managers by sponsoring various meetings and forums to exchange information. However, NOAA attempts to implement the act have been hampered because NOAA has had little authority to influence research conducted by other federal agencies, and the NOAA plan has not indicated how recommended research should be funded and has not recommended specific roles to agencies which research similar subjects. NOAA must rely on the voluntary cooperation of research agencies to help prepare and implement its 5-year plan, and it has no explicit authority under the act to review research budgets. These limitations reduce the likelihood that any changes recommended by the plan which are not viewed by the affected research agencies as fully consistent with their interests or missions will be adopted. Agencies concentrating on their own interests to the exclusion of broader federal concerns could lead to misplaced research emphasis and unnecessarily duplicative research. The plan should provide more direction on the spending of funds and the allocation of responsibilities among agencies which are researching similar issues.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Hugh J. Wessinger Team: General Accounting Office: Community and Economic Development Division Phone: (202) 275-5489

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