4
Managing and Guiding the Program

Are mechanisms for coordinating and integrating issues that involve multiple disciplines and multiple agencies adequately described?

Chapter 15 of the draft strategic plan describes the management structures and processes that have been established to coordinate and integrate federal research and technology development in the area of global climate change. The management structure (see Figure 1.1) includes the following major components:

  • A cabinet-level Committee on Climate Change Science and Technology Integration;

  • An Interagency Working Group on Climate Change Science and Technology;

  • An interagency Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) whose draft strategic plan is the subject of this report; and

  • An interagency Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP).

Chapter 15 of the draft plan also describes several management processes that will be used to implement, evaluate, and guide the program (see CCSP, 2002, p. 162-166), and calls for the development of a new mechanism to improve the integration of program elements that are not central to the core missions of participating agencies.1 In the sections that follow, the committee examines elements of this management framework and offers advice on how they could be improved in the revised strategic plan.

INTERACTIONS BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The committee is concerned that the existing management and program links between the CCSP and CCTP may not be sufficient to take advantage of the synergies between these two programs. This may be due in part to CCTP’s early stage of development. Generally, a program to define a massive problem (i.e., the CCSP) and a program to develop options for solution to the problem (i.e., the CCTP) should be guided by a common strategy, and this does not appear to be the case for the CCSP and CCTP yet. At the very least the results from each program should be used to guide the project portfolio of the other. Elements of the CCTP program will need to build upon the findings of the CCSP program. Technology solution options should be pursued for the highest-risk problems and informed by the most robust knowledge of those problems. Likewise, the impacts of implementing various solutions (e.g., sequestration, hydrogen-based fuels) should be studied as an integral part of technology development. On the other hand, there are many human dimensions, economic analysis, and decision support functions in the CCSP that critically depend on a deep understanding of the technologies and options that are being developed to address climate and associated global changes. These include the rate of diffusion of new technologies, the cost and impact of new technologies or policy drivers, and the development of realistic scenarios for anything other than business-as-usual baselines for the next 5 to 10 years.

The Interagency Working Group on Climate Change Science and Technology is responsible for coordinating the CCSP with the CCTP at the highest level, and this group may be able to foster some of the synergies described above. The committee believes that more potential benefits of these types of synergies would be realized if there were

1  

“The past decade has shown that research on climate and global change often includes components that do not fall neatly into the core mission of any one of the participating agencies, are entirely new program needs, or are key to the integration of separate agency activities…One necessary approach for addressing such integrating activities is to develop a mechanism that allows functions that are not central to the core missions of the participating agencies, but that are highly relevant, to be fostered” (CCSP, 2002, p. 165).



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Planning Climate and Global Change Research 4 Managing and Guiding the Program Are mechanisms for coordinating and integrating issues that involve multiple disciplines and multiple agencies adequately described? Chapter 15 of the draft strategic plan describes the management structures and processes that have been established to coordinate and integrate federal research and technology development in the area of global climate change. The management structure (see Figure 1.1) includes the following major components: A cabinet-level Committee on Climate Change Science and Technology Integration; An Interagency Working Group on Climate Change Science and Technology; An interagency Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) whose draft strategic plan is the subject of this report; and An interagency Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP). Chapter 15 of the draft plan also describes several management processes that will be used to implement, evaluate, and guide the program (see CCSP, 2002, p. 162-166), and calls for the development of a new mechanism to improve the integration of program elements that are not central to the core missions of participating agencies.1 In the sections that follow, the committee examines elements of this management framework and offers advice on how they could be improved in the revised strategic plan. INTERACTIONS BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY The committee is concerned that the existing management and program links between the CCSP and CCTP may not be sufficient to take advantage of the synergies between these two programs. This may be due in part to CCTP’s early stage of development. Generally, a program to define a massive problem (i.e., the CCSP) and a program to develop options for solution to the problem (i.e., the CCTP) should be guided by a common strategy, and this does not appear to be the case for the CCSP and CCTP yet. At the very least the results from each program should be used to guide the project portfolio of the other. Elements of the CCTP program will need to build upon the findings of the CCSP program. Technology solution options should be pursued for the highest-risk problems and informed by the most robust knowledge of those problems. Likewise, the impacts of implementing various solutions (e.g., sequestration, hydrogen-based fuels) should be studied as an integral part of technology development. On the other hand, there are many human dimensions, economic analysis, and decision support functions in the CCSP that critically depend on a deep understanding of the technologies and options that are being developed to address climate and associated global changes. These include the rate of diffusion of new technologies, the cost and impact of new technologies or policy drivers, and the development of realistic scenarios for anything other than business-as-usual baselines for the next 5 to 10 years. The Interagency Working Group on Climate Change Science and Technology is responsible for coordinating the CCSP with the CCTP at the highest level, and this group may be able to foster some of the synergies described above. The committee believes that more potential benefits of these types of synergies would be realized if there were 1   “The past decade has shown that research on climate and global change often includes components that do not fall neatly into the core mission of any one of the participating agencies, are entirely new program needs, or are key to the integration of separate agency activities…One necessary approach for addressing such integrating activities is to develop a mechanism that allows functions that are not central to the core missions of the participating agencies, but that are highly relevant, to be fostered” (CCSP, 2002, p. 165).

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Planning Climate and Global Change Research also direct coordination of some individual components of the CCSP and CCTP. Recommendation: The CCSP should assess the scientific implications of the technologies under consideration by the CCTP and develop realistic scenarios for climate and associated global changes with these technologies in mind. The program management chapter of the revised CCSP strategic plan should clearly describe mechanisms for coordinating and linking its activities with the technology development activities of the CCTP. INTERAGENCY MANAGEMENT The management of an interagency program involving 13 agencies, each with a separate mission and history of independent efforts on issues of climate and global change, is a challenging task. The GCRP has been criticized in the past for being unable to do much beyond encouraging multi-agency cooperation and support because it lacked the authority to redirect long standing programs and mandates of individual agencies (NRC, 2001d). The new CCSP management structure announced by President Bush in February 2002 is designed to address this problem by providing a level of accountability and direction that was missing from the GCRP. In particular, the cabinet-level Committee on Climate Change Science and Technology Integration is responsible for providing “recommendations concerning climate science and technology to the President, and if needed, recommend the movement of funding and programs across agency boundaries” (GCRP, 2003, p. 11). An Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Technology, composed of departmental and agency representatives at the deputy secretary level, reports to the cabinet-level committee and is responsible for making recommendations about the “funding level and focus” of the CCSP and the CCTP (CCSP, 2002, p. 162-163). The CCSP itself, an interagency group composed of representatives from all agencies that have a research mission in climate and global change, reports to the deputy-secretary level working group and is responsible for “effective management of the coordinated interagency research program” (CCSP, 2002, p. 163). Interagency committees of program managers for each major research element are responsible for interagency coordination and implementation at the program element level. Responsibility for Managing the Program The creation of the cabinet-level committee with the authority to shift resource among agencies to meet the goals of the CCSP (if necessary) is an improvement over past approaches to managing the GCRP. However, the interagency approach to managing the program at all levels, from the cabinet-level committee to the individual program element, may not be enough to ensure that agencies cooperate toward the common goals of the CCSP because no individual is clearly identified in the draft plan as having responsibility for managing the program as a whole. Of particular importance are those crosscutting program elements that involve multiple agencies. Chapter 15 of the draft plan on “Program Management and Review” does not describe the responsibilities and authorities of the CCSP leadership adequately. Recommendation: The revised strategic plan should describe the management processes to be used to foster agency cooperation toward common CCSP goals. The revised plan also should clearly describe the responsibilities of the CCSP leadership. Descriptions of Agency Responsibilities The plan does not describe the specific responsibilities and authorities of contributing agencies, such as which entity will be responsible for implementing the work. Defining responsibilities is particularly important for new areas of research that have not been supported by the GCRP in the past, such as land-use and land-cover change and decision support. This also is important for crosscutting research elements, notably water cycle and ecosystems research, which are currently carried out within multiple agencies. The plan includes no clear delineation of which agency will do what, and in particular, which agency(ies) or program(s) will lead the proposed expansion of these crosscutting research areas. Recommendation: The revised strategic plan should more clearly outline agency responsibilities for implementing the research. Participation of Mission Agencies Another management challenge for the CCSP is to foster the participation of mission-oriented agencies in the strategic planning process. The committee believes that mission oriented agencies—such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, water resources and land management agencies within Department of the Interior, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the extension and farm program agencies within U.S. Department of Agriculture—could make important contributions to identifying research needs, collaborating on research problems, and testing research and modeling results. Because these agencies apparently played little, if any, role in the creation of the current strategic plan, the plan overlooks resources that might be available to its ambitious agenda. Recommendation: The CCSP should encourage participation of those agencies whose research or operational responsibilities would strengthen the ability of the program to deliver products that serve national needs.

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Planning Climate and Global Change Research EXTERNAL GUIDANCE The draft plan describes how the CCSP intends to use scientific steering committees composed of outside experts to help guide program elements. Advisory committees already exist for most of the agency science programs and some interagency programs (e.g., the carbon cycle and the water cycle). Such committees are especially useful for new program elements. There is also a stated desire to continue to receive advice and review from appropriate NRC committees and boards. These processes are valuable for scientific guidance on program goals, research approaches, and evaluating the usefulness and credibility of products. Notwithstanding the value of these activities, the committee believes that the most difficult of the research management challenges will occur at the level of the CCSP program itself. Thus, there will be a need for scientific and other stakeholder guidance at the level of the program to ensure that clear priorities are established and communicated, that progress toward meeting the subsequent goals can be evaluated, and that the inevitable trade-offs in resources and allocation of time can be done with an eye toward meeting the most important of the overall program goals. Otherwise there will be a tendency for the individual needs and priorities of the agencies to take precedence over the needs of the entire program. Recommendation: The CCSP should establish a standing advisory body charged with independent oversight of the entire program. SUMMARY Successful coordination and integration of CCSP activities will require clearly delineated lines of authority, requisite accountability by participating agencies, and appropriate staffing and funding. As the implementing and coordinating body for this effort, the CCSP will need the ability to direct other agencies’ efforts and hold them accountable for performance and coordination. The success of the CCSP will also require the support and oversight of the Committee on Climate Change Science and Technology Integration and the Interagency Working Group on Climate Change Science and Technology, as well as the continued guidance of independent advisory bodies.