NOAA's vast collection of environmental data is heading to the cloud.

NOAA Information Resources Management Strategic Plan 2021-2025

Goal 1: Promote Our People Who Make the Mission Possible

“People first, mission always,” is a famous motto in American leadership. Inspired by this perspective, NOAA’s IT strategy begins with people.

The full NOAA IT workforce includes 1,000+ federal IT Specialist employees, plus our workforce partners, including contractors and grantees. In our increasingly technology- and information-driven modern world, every worker across NOAA interacts with IT to achieve our missions. NOAA should have the best, most capable IT workforce; a workforce as diverse as America, included in determining our path forward, and inspired by NOAA’s mission.

To reach the vision defined in this Strategic Goal, we must invest in our IT workforce, and improve our employee experience (EX).  We will also need to change some of the ways we currently manage our workforce, and evolve our understanding of how people across NOAA interact with technology. An ever-evolving threat landscape means that our workforce culture must embrace the understanding that IT security is everyone's job. Partnership with NOAA’s Office of Human Capital Services (OHCS) and with the NOAA Civil Rights Office (CRO) will be essential to achieving this success. This IRM Strategic Goal aligns with and is expanded by the NOAA IT Workforce Strategic Plan.

We must shape the NOAA IT workforce of the future so that they can support the success of the other Goals advanced in this Strategic Plan. We envision NOAA’s IT professionals as mission-enabling partners and ambassadors for the skills and knowledge that will be needed across NOAA as technology and information take on an ever-growing role in our mission work. This success must be led, and can only be achieved, by our most valuable asset: our people.




1.1  Establish diversity and inclusion as essential factors in mission and workforce success

1.2  Implement full life-cycle workforce management

1.3  Prepare an IT and data literate workforce


Key Results

  • Support a full-time mobile workforce by providing secure and always accessible remote access to information, devices, and tools across NOAA by FY25

  • Expand the NOAA IT Fellowship Program to 25 IT Fellow billets, with a strategy to connect this Program to succession planning, across NOAA by FY23


Our NOAA information and technology exists to serve our Agency mission. Technology must be mission-enabling, never a barrier to progress. We require modern, innovative technology to support the frontiers of NOAA’s science and research, in addition to our IT systems and tools that establish a reliable, efficient, and secure enterprise infrastructure. At all times, NOAA’s IT should be engaged in conversation with mission leaders to ensure our technology understands mission needs and is prepared to support mission activities in a way that is secure and architecturally aligned. 

Just as technology is integrated into almost every aspect of our modern lives, today NOAA’s IT is much more than traditional hardware, software, and network pipelines. NOAA’s Science & Technology (S&T) Focus Areas have defined pathways to future success with a NOAA Cloud Strategy and Data Strategy, as well as Strategic Plans for applied areas including Artificial Intelligence (AI), ‘Omics, Uncrewed Systems (UxS), and Citizen Science.

NOAA has been applying cloud-based technologies for more than a decade, but recent years have seen us bringing our mission to the cloud at unprecedented rates. We have demonstrated that we can execute truly innovative work, including high performance computing and research, in the cloud. We envision that this move to cloud will continue, and that over time all NOAA work that can be cloud-based, will be. Our IT solutions should anticipate this high-utility cloud state, supporting mission success with enterprise architecture, security, and processes to help NOAA missions succeed in the cloud.




2.1  Drive technology-enabled transformation of research into operational products and services

2.2  Invest in IT innovation and accelerate modernization

2.3  Empower the use of data across NOAA


Key Results

  • Accelerate community-developed scientific and technological enhancements into the operational applications for numerical weather prediction via EPIC by FY24

  • Implement an integrated Research to Operations (R2O - O2R) enterprise linking research, development, demonstration, and deployment that is efficient and effective in identifying and using significant new IT R&D products to meet NOAA's mission needs by FY24

  • Employ cutting-edge innovation and strategic academic and industry partnerships to demonstrate improvements in performance in satellite data and information products and services, numerical weather prediction, ocean models, and big data analysis, storage, and dissemination by FY23

We guard NOAA’s data and IT assets in a dynamic threat landscape that is increasing in complexity every day. Protecting NOAA networks, systems, and data requires understanding and anticipating risks, and constantly improving our ability to defend against attacks. NOAA’s leaders increasingly require better -- and more -- information to support risk-based decision making as they propel innovation and mission needs while ensuring security requirements. When it comes to effective IT, proactive risk management is everyone’s job.

Our Agency’s improvements are supported by guidance from the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB), US Congress, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), particularly with regard to cyber security and enterprise risk management. As we fulfill FISMA and FITARA laws, our cyber security and IT investment and portfolio decisions are made with return-on-investment (ROI) driven business cases and cost transparency.




3.1  Continuously mature NOAA cyber security posture and techniques

3.2  Ensure the security of NOAA networks, systems, and data

3.3  Secure NOAA’s access to required radiofrequency spectrum


Key Results

  • Implement 100% of Internal Risk Mitigation best practices (i.e., policies, procedures, standards, controls) by FY24

  • Deploy NOAA cloud security standards on 100% of Cloud Service Provider instances by FY24

  • Manage 100% of applicable NOAA endpoints through the NOAA BigFix solution by FY22

  • Deploy DHS Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) 3.0 across 100% of NOAA locations by FY21


The IT organizations across NOAA deliver reliable, high-quality services and products around the globe, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to support NOAA missions. Customers seeking NOAA’s technology services and NOAA data include the NOAA workforce, as well as mission partners including private industry, other US Government organizations, academia and research institutes. Ultimately, our customer is the American People.

There are opportunities to: increase trust in NOAA by improving the experience citizens and businesses have with our services across all delivery channels; transform the customer experience (CX) by improving the usability and reliability of our most critical digital services; and, create measurable improvements in customer satisfaction by using the principles and practices proven by leading private-sector organizations. 

Fulfilling this Strategic Goal requires clearly identifying our customers and building robust relationships with them so that together we can advance NOAA’s missions. These are ongoing conversations, requiring NOAA’s IT service catalog and service delivery methods to evolve over time. We seek to put the customer’s needs and the CX at the center of our IT product and service design. Success in this Goal will streamline the user experience, supporting informed IT choices based on mission requirements, getting customers what they need and unburdening them of the need for technical expertise.

As we measure excellence in meeting this strategic Goal, we will set benchmarks to evaluate our current performance. We will learn from best practices in industry and Government IT service management, including the CX Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal in the President’s Management Agenda, and set targets for performance improvements. And we will consistently engage with our customers to learn about their experiences, their service needs, and their satisfaction with NOAA’s IT products and services.




4.1  Develop strategic relationships with customers and partners

4.2  Deliver quality products and services sought by customers

4.3  Continuously improve the delivery of technology, data, and information services


Key Results

  • Increase the cumulative number of NOAA datasets made openly available to the public via Weather Enterprise and other environmental information partnership cloud platforms to 200 by FY22

  • Fully deploy N-Wave as the OneNOAA Network by FY22

We must target our IT capabilities to empower NOAA’s mission and business needs. By evolving our IT systems engineering capabilities and operating models, and clarifying their role in NOAA value chains, we optimize overall return-on-investment (ROI) and ensure the effective stewardship of taxpayer dollars. As we make great advances in our strategic use of data across the Agency, there is an opportunity to steward NOAA’s authoritative data so that it stands ready to empower science both inside NOAA, through partnerships with researchers and businesses, and to the public at large.

NOAA’s CIO Council and the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), in partnership with IT Program Managers and our Chief Financial Officer (CFO) colleagues, diligently manage our Agency’s IT investments. We work to improve transparency, maximize cost savings, fulfill all review and reporting requirements for NOAA’s increasingly complex IT investment portfolio.

The optimization efforts described above are guided by FITARA and are informed by NOAA’s adoption of the OMB’s Technology Business Management (TBM) and OMB’s Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) framework. 




5.1  Support transparent, collaborative investment management

5.2  Enable stewardship of NOAA’s data as a strategic asset

5.3  Organize shared services for quality, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness

5.4  Increase effectiveness of IT program and project management


Key Results

  • Prioritize AI-based approaches in NOAA IT policies and procedures, emphasizing the purpose to improve performance, computational efficiency, and cost effectiveness by FY25

  • Implement an IT Working Capital Fund with NOAA CFO and CFO Council approval by FY24


Published on
March 10, 2021