The National Ocean Service, a component of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has a new program for providing ocean products and services to the Nation. The key objectives in this program are six-fold:

  1. provide ocean products and services that are more responsive to the needs of users,

  2. modernize the instrumentation systems needed to collect, process, and disseminate ocean information,

  3. increase cooperation with other government agencies and the private sector,

  4. improve the efficiency of NOAA's fleet of research and survey ships,

  5. survey the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, and

  6. determine the baseline status and trends in the ocean environment.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is part of the U. S. 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 U. S. Department of the Interior, or are regulatory in nature, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, but NOAA is the one Federal agency charged specifically with analyzing and predicting the actions of the oceanic and atmospheric components of the Earth's environment. To a large degree, oceanic and atmospheric information, in a myriad of forms and formats, is the main product of the agencies that make up NOAA. The importance of this global, integrated air-sea approach to providing oceanic and atmospheric information products and services from marine maps and charts to weather forecasts--is reflected in the NOAA line offices:

  • National Ocean Service

  • National Weather Service

  • National Marine Fisheries Services

  • National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service

  • Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

Midway through the Reagan Administration's first term, NOAA line offices were reorganized to consolidate programs as part of the Administration's general Government-wide belt tightening, which of course is continuing into the Administration's second term. The idea has been for NOAA to grow leaner but stronger. In this reorganization of NOAA programs, the main thrust of the work of the Weather Service and the Marine Fisheries Service has remained the same. The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research continues 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. The former National Ocean Survey pulled in NOAA's responsibilities under the Coastal Zone Management Act, reorganized some of its major programs, and changed its name to the National Ocean Service.

This change from Ocean Survey to Ocean Service was more than just a name change; it gives a clue to other changes and new directions for NOAA in general and for NOAA's programs of ocean services in particular. What is being done throughout NOAA is to emphasize "service," to make NOAA products and services more responsive to the needs of users.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.