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Attachment: Handbook

Issued: 9/14/2022; Effective: 2/1/2023; Reviewed Last: 2/1/2023


  1. This NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) provides policy for initiating and processing changes to the organizational structure of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  2. This NAO revises and supersedes NAO 200-7, Initiating and Processing Organizational Changes (effective March 10, 2009). The revision incorporates guidance issued in Department of Commerce (DOC) Human Resources (HR) Bulletin #252, FY21 on Reorganization Requests. It also updates the title of NOAA’s Servicing Human Resources Management Office from the Workforce Management Office (WFMO) to the Office of Human Capital Services (OHCS) and adds a reference to the OHCS Position Management Handbook.


This Order and its associated Supplemental Handbook apply to all proposed organizational changes within NOAA. Where provisions of this policy conflict with provisions in applicable negotiated collective bargaining agreements, the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement will apply. This NAO will be applicable until canceled or superseded.


  1. Matrix Management Design. An organizational structure in which a program manager has accountability for program success and shares responsibility with functional managers (i.e., an employee’s first line supervisor) for assigning priorities and for directing the work of key responsible individuals assigned to the program.
  2. Organization Design. The process of aligning the organizational and position structures with the strategic mission and objectives of the organization.
  3. Position Management. The systematic process that managers and supervisors apply when designing an efficient and economical organization. Through this process the following determinations should be made: how many positions are needed, how jobs should be designed, and the organizational structure needed to accomplish the mission and functional assignments of the bureau.
  4. Program. A program may be professional, scientific, technical, administrative, or fiscal in nature. Typically, programs involve broad objectives and are of such magnitude that they must be carried out through a combination of line and staff functions.


  1. It is the policy of NOAA to develop organizational structures to support the mission of the organization, have clear lines of accountability, reduce or eliminate duplication of effort, and follow sound position management principles. NOAA OHCS developed two handbooks to assist managers through this process.
    1. The Supplemental Handbook to this Order provides procedures to initiate, process, and implement changes to NOAA’s organizational structure.
    2. The OHCS Position Management Handbook provides guidance to practice sound position management.
  2. Managers and supervisors must follow the guidelines below when developing or revising organizational structures:
    1. The directions set forth in the Supplemental Handbook to this Order must be followed in titling key personnel positions and organizations;
    2. Organizations and positions must be planned so they are logical, internally consistent, and avoid functional overlap and fragmentation;
    3. Staff resources must be utilized in accordance with a sound position management program providing proper balance among mission needs, efficiency and economy of operations, and effective employee utilization;
    4. The number of deputies, assistants, and supervisors must be minimized, and emphasis placed on line (i.e., first level) responsibilities. Team leaders must be used as alternatives to supervisors as appropriate;
    5. The number of organizational levels must be minimized. When appropriate, authority must be delegated and centralized to the lowest appropriate working level. Single sub-units (i.e., one division, one branch, one section, one unit) must not be established. (e.g, a subdivided branch must have two or more sections);
    6. Positions must be established in accordance with applicable position classification standards and must be consistent with current mission, functions, and levels of work assigned to the organization while assuring full position utilization;
    7. Programs spanning two or more NOAA organizations must be managed through the use of matrix management design; and
    8. Prior to implementing an organizational change, NOAA Labor Relations must be consulted for their written determination of whether the proposed organization change creates an obligation to give notice to, and if necessary to bargain with a Union.
  3. Managers and supervisors must review organizations and positions on a continuing basis. The purpose of this review is to ensure each subordinate’s position description is accurate and to identify possible improvements. When appropriate, actions to abolish unnecessary positions and organizations are to be initiated following the procedures in the Supplemental Handbook to this Order.


  1. All Line/Staff Office (LO/SO) requests to change the basic NOAA organizational structure will be reviewed by OHCS for compliance with organization and position management principles prior to submission to the appropriate approving official within NOAA. Such LO/SO requests must meet all required documentation criteria contained in the Supplemental Handbook to this Order. In addition, OHCS will coordinate the clearance of all reorganizations, including assignment of organizational codes and preparation of formal approval documentation.
    1. OHCS will ensure all reorganizations changing NOAA’s organizational structure are approved by DOC’s Director, Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) and Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) prior to implementation.
    2. OHCS will ensure all changes affecting positions in the Senior Executive Service, Scientific or Professional, or Senior Level (such as newly established, revised, or abolished positions) are reviewed by the DOC Office of Executive Resources and approved by the DOC Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration(CFO/ASA) through DOC’s OHRM Director and CHCO.
  2. All reorganization proposals must be reviewed by the NOAA Chief Financial Officer via the NOAA Budget Office (NBO) to determine whether the proposed change necessitates advance Congressional notification of a reprogramming of appropriations.
    1. The NOAA Deputy Under Secretary for Operations (DUSO) will coordinate the clearance of all notification determinations with DOC Office of Budget (DOC OB) in accordance with the DOC HR Bulletin #252, FY21, Department Administrative Order(DAO) 203-13, and the DOC Budget, Performance, and Program Analysis Handbook.
    2. If a Congressional reprogramming notification is required, NBO will provide the appropriate memo templates to be submitted to DOC OB, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress via the Executive Secretariat.
  3. Procedures to initiate, process, and implement organizational changes are contained in the Supplemental Handbook to this Order.
  4. The DUSO is responsible for submitting updates to the Department Organization Order (DOO) 25-5, NOAA in accordance with the process outlined in DAO 200-7, DOO Series.



This Order supersedes NAO 200-7, Initiating and Processing Organizational Changes, dated March 10, 2009.
An electronic copy of this Order will be posted in place of the superseded Order on the NOAA Office of the Chief Administrative Officer website under the NOAA Administrative Issuances Section:

Signed, Dr. Richard W. Spinrad Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator

Office of Primary Interest: Office of Human Capital Services