Reauthorization of the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observing System (ICOOS) Act of 2009

On December 31, 2020, the President signed the Coordinated Ocean Observations and Research Act of 2020 (S. 914) into law and reauthorized the IOOS program through Fiscal Year (FY) 2025. The bill passed both Chambers of Congress unanimously, and each chamber passed it twice due to technical amendments - a strong signal for Congressional support of the program. Among other key provisions, the act:

  • Reauthorizes the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System through FY 2025, starting at $48 million and increasing by $2 million annually.
  • Expands the responsibilities of the IOOS Program Office to work with the RAs and users to develop products for decision makers with respect to weather, search and rescue, water quality monitoring, and harmful algal blooms.
  • Enumerates the role of the Interagency Ocean Observing Committee, including the promotion of intramural and extramural R&D for new, innovative, and emerging technologies, and to ensure collaboration among Federal agencies.
  • Establishes staggered terms for advisory committee members.
  • Allows employees of Federal agencies to be members of the regional coastal observing systems, which is important for the design and implementation of integrated system at the regional level.
  • Clarifies language regarding the disbursement of funds under cooperative agreements by allowing NOAA to execute agreements on a reimbursable or non-reimbursable basis.
  • Requires reporting to Congress on existing gaps in observation infrastructure, an economic vulnerability report, a monitoring prioritization plan, and a strategic research plan. 
  • Renames Regional Information Coordinating Entities from the original bill to Regional Coastal Observing Systems.

The ICOOS Act provides the foundation coordinating the observing efforts of the Federal agencies and the regional systems.  It establishes the standards and protocols for integrating Federal and non-federal data to provide users with seamless access to the most important information.  


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