Our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes represent tremendous economic and cultural resources for the American people. To balance sustainable development of our seas with conservation and conscious stewardship, the United States engages scientists and policymakers to guide Federal ocean policy. This work is integrated into decision making in part through the Ocean Policy Committee (OPC), which oversees ocean policy within the United States and is led by the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality

The Ocean Policy Committee (OPC)

The OPC was first established by Executive Order in 2018 and codified into law by the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law 116 283; NDAA Sec. 1055), in order to coordinate Federal actions on ocean-related matters. It is co-chaired by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). The OPC collaborates with the ocean community on ocean-related matters to advance ocean science and technology (S&T), identify priority ocean research and technology needs, and leverage resources and expertise to maximize the effectiveness of Federal investments in ocean research. 

Ocean Policy Committee Organizational Chart
The Ocean Policy Committee (OPC) sits as the top of the interagency ocean science and technology and management policy organizational chart. The OPC is advised by the Ocean Research Advisory Panel (ORAP). Under the OPC, are the Ocean Science and Technology (OST) and Ocean Resource Management (ORM) Subcommittees. The OST is also known as the Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST) under the National Science and Technology Council. Under the OST are two subgroups: the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) and the National Ocean Mapping, Exploration, and Characterization (NOMEC) Council. The Interagency Working Groups on Ocean and Coastal Mapping (IWG-OCM) and Ocean Exploration and Characterization (IWG-OEC) sit under the NOMEC Council. Under the ORM are three interagency teams to develop and advance 1) Spatial Data and Tools, 2) a U.S. Ocean Action Climate Plan, and 3) a National Strategy for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. 



Membership of the OPC

  • Office of Science and Technology Policy (Co-chair)
  • Council on Environmental Quality (Co-chair)
  • Secretary of State 
  • Secretary of Defense
  • Attorney General 
  • Secretary of the Interior 
  • Secretary of Agriculture 
  • Secretary of Commerce 
  • Secretary of Transportation 
  • Secretary of Energy 
  • Secretary of Homeland Security 
  • Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency 
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget 
  • Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 
  • Director of the National Science Foundation 
  • Director of National Intelligence 
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 
  • Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere 
  • Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) 
  • Commandant of the Coast Guard 
  • Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs 
  • Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
  • Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy 
  • Assistant to the President for Economic Policy 
  • A representative from the Office of the Vice President designated by the Vice President
  • Such other officers or employees of the Federal Government as the Co-Chairs may from time to time designate

The Ocean Research Advisory Panel (ORAP)

The Ocean Research Advisory Panel (ORAP) advises the OPC and is called on to provide independent recommendations to the Federal Government. Membership is composed of individuals from the National Academies, state government, academia, and ocean industries, representing marine science, marine technology, marine policy, and other related fields. The ORAP is an advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), and is the only FACA body chartered to advise all of the federal “ocean agencies.” ORAP was codified alongside the OPC in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act and was charged with advising the OPC about national oceanographic science, engineering, facilities, resources, as well as improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in ocean sciences and related fields.

ORAP Charter