Need for Improving Management of U.S. Oceanographic Assets

CED-78-125: Published: Jun 16, 1978. Publicly Released: Jun 16, 1978.

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In response to congressional concerns, the Nation's ocean research/survey fleet was reviewed, and information was compiled on the fleet's costs and operations.

Managing and operating ocean research/survey vessels is still highly decentralized throughout the Federal Government. Federal oceanic activities are conducted by 21 organizations in 6 departments and 5 agencies. There is no overall Government-wide guidance, limited review of operations, and no formal system to assess the necessary levels of operations or to plan needed assets for a national program. This fragmentation has contributed to inefficient use of the Nation's ocean research/survey fleet. Also, inadequate vessel accounting standards make it difficult to compare costs for similar services from other sources. A comparative analysis with foreign oceanographic capabilities showed that the Soviet Union, France, and the United Kingdom have centralized management and comprehensive ocean policies. Although the Soviet Union has achieved a great deal in oceanographic research, the quality of the U.S. effort is still superior.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Until a comprehensive national ocean policy is established, the Congress should designate a single manager for Government-wide civilian agency oceanographic vessel operations who will insure that: uniform operations policies and procedures are established for monitoring vessel activities, effective management of existing vessels is accomplished, viable alternatives are considered before authorizing new vessel construction, and standardized vessel accounting procedures are established and maintained. An alternative to a single manager would be a Government-wide Fleet Allocation Council. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to reorganize and consolidate management of all Navy oceanographic activities under a single manager, and to assist coordination with the designated civilian manager. The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to review its vessel operations policies to ensure that vessels are used as efficiently as possible.


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