NAO 216-106A: NOAA Education and Outreach Policy

Issued 07/11//05; Effective  2/26/13 Reviewed Last: 12/18/2018




This Order establishes a National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) policy encouraging employee participation in education and outreach activities, particularly related to science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM).


  1. This directive is applicable to all NOAA offices.
  2. All document citations are assumed to be the latest version unless otherwise noted.


  1. Education. The process by which individuals develop their knowledge, values, and skills.
    Education encompasses both teaching and learning.
  2. Engagement. A two-way relationship between a service provider and society. It implies
    a commitment of service to society through a partnership based on reciprocity and
    sharing of goals, objectives, and resources. Implicit to engagement is a respect for each
    partner that involves listening, dialogue, understanding, and mutual support.
  3. Outreach. Opportunities designed to build awareness, develop relationships, and inspire
    action. Involves information exchange between provider and target audiences.
    Frequently designed to reach diverse audiences, but can be personal and interactive,
    designed to identify and appeal to an individual's personal interest or motivation for


It is NOAA's policy to support and encourage employee participation in education and outreach
activities related to the Agency's mission, as part of an employee's official duty activities. This
includes NOAA programs, projects, events, and activities that seek employee volunteers to
engage, educate, or inspire audiences using technical or non-technical components ofNOAA's
mission. This also includes select mission-related education and outreach activities administered
by NOAA partners, collaborators, grantees, or other organizations.

This policy supplements and expands the existing NOAA Education Policy, NAO 216-106,
issued 07/11/05: Effective 06/27/05. The focus of this policy is to encourage employee
participation specifically on education and outreach activities.


  1. The Director, NOAA Education and the NOAA Education Council in collaboration with
    the Director, NOAA Office of Communications are responsible for the implementation of
    this policy directive.
    1. The Director for Education will ensure education activities support NOAA's
      strategic goals for education and education outreach.
  2. The Director, NOAA Education will collaborate with the Director, NOAA Office of Civil
    Rights and the Director, NOAA Office of Workforce Management to ensure employee
    participation in education and outreach activities supports NOAA's strategic goals for
    diversity and inclusion.
  3. All employees are encouraged to participate in mission-related education and outreach
    activities, based on an employee's interest in and value to the agency mission of such
    activities in accordance with this policy.
  4. Employee supervisors, shall:
    1. Encourage and support employee participation in mission-related education and
      outreach activities.
    2. Jointly with the employee, ensure that employee participation in education and
      outreach activities does not interfere with employees' primary job duties. This
      includes discussing potential conflicts with the employee beforehand.
    3. Jointly with the employee, seek education and outreach activities that maximize
      benefit to NOAA's mission requirements.
    4. Respond to employee requests to participate in mission-related education and
      outreach activities and authorize the expenditure of official time on such
      activities, as appropriate.
  5. Participating employees shall:
    1. Possess sufficient knowledge of the subject matter they will be sharing with
      external audiences.
    2. Possess sufficient knowledge of how to appropriately interact with and engage
      target audiences
    3. Obtain advance supervisory approval to participate in education and outreach
      activities; this includes identifying and notifying the supervisor of all potential
      conflicts created by participation.
    4. Jointly with the supervisor, ensure that participation in education and outreach
      activities does not interfere with the performance of their primary job. Optional
      education and outreach activities are in addition to the employee's regular job
      duties and are not a substitute for completing assigned work. Participation in such
      activities is intended to benefit the agency and is not intended to have an adverse
      impact on work operations or employee performance
    5. Conduct themselves in a manner that represents NOAA favorably.
    6. Not engage in partisan political activities while participating in NOAA education
      or outreach activities or violate conflict of interest laws and ethics regulations.
    7. Not share non-public information as a result of their participation in these
    8. Not accept additional compensation from an outside organization.


  1. Statutes for NOAA Education:
    1. America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (P.L. 111-358)
    2. America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69)
    3. Coral Reef Conservation Act (P.L. 106-562)
    4. Coastal Zone Management Act (P.L. 109-58) § 1461, National Estuarine
      Research Reserve System
    5. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (P.L. 109-479)
    6. National Marine Sanctuaries Act (P .L. 1 06-513, Sections 14 31 et seq.)
    7. National Sea Grant College Program Act (P.L. 107-299)
  2. Applicable Documents:
    1. NOAA's Next Generation Strategic Plan (2010)
    2. NOAA's Education Strategic Plan 2009-2029
    3. National Research Council: NOAA's Education Program: Review and Critique
    4. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report: Mitigation of Climate
      Change (2007)
    5. Report of the Academic Competitiveness Council (2007)
    6. Conference on Ocean Literacy Report (2006)
    7. The President's U.S. Ocean Action Plan (2005)
    8. National Academies Report: Rising Above the Gathering Storm (2005)
  3. Examples of Education and Outreach
    Several organizations have had long-term partnerships and/or MOUs with NOAA and
    offer opportunities to engage, educate and inspire people in science, technology,
    engineering, and math. Among them include:
    1. Science fairs. The Office of Education supports student research on issues related
      to NOAA's mission:
    2. The National Ocean Sciences Bowl. offsite link
    3. The Science Olympiad. offsite link
    4. Aquariums and zoos. offsite link
    5. Science Centers. offsite link
  4. NOAA offices and staff have opportunities to host students and teachers in a variety of
    capacities which include:
    1. The Office of Education needs many volunteers to work with student interns by
      providing internship opportunities, serving as mentors and science judges and
      student scholarship applicant reviewers. Contact: for additional information.
    2. The NOAA Teacher at Sea Program regularly seeks scientist mentors for teacher
      placements. Contact:  for additional information


The NOAA Education Council along with the NOAA Office of Education shall assess
compliance with this policy by conducting qualitative assessments of employee participation in
mission-related education and outreach activities with NOAA line offices every three years.




Under Secretary of Commerce for
Oceans and Atmosphere

Office of Primary Interest:
Office of Education (OED)
Office of Communications (PCA)
Workforce Management Office (WFMO)
NOAA Civil Rightrs Office (CRO)