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NOAA Workforce Management Office

Serving NOAA's Most Valuable Asset - People


About NOAA
NOAA Organization
NOAA Locations
NOAA's Vision, Mission, Goals, and Priorities
NOAA' History

 About NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a bureau of the Department of Commerce. NOAA conducts research and gathers data about the global oceans, atmosphere, space, and sun, and applies this knowledge to science and service that touch the lives of all Americans. NOAA was established in 1970, and employs approximately 12,500 employees.

Over forty years since its creation, NOAA still works for America every day. From providing timely and precise weather, water and climate forecasts, to monitoring the environment and changes in the oceans, to managing fisheries and building healthy coastlines, to making our nation more competitive through safe navigation, NOAA is on the front lines for America.

In hours of crisis, you’ll find NOAA employees issuing the tornado warnings that save hundreds of lives from a deadly storm, flying into the eyes of hurricanes to gather information about possible landfall, fielding a massive scientific operation on the shores to respond to an oil spill, and monitoring by satellites the movement of hurricanes and other severe storms, volcanic ash and wildfires that threaten communities.

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NOAA warns of dangerous weather, charts our seas and skies, guides our use and protection of ocean and coastal resources, and conducts research to improve our understanding and stewardship of the environment that sustains us all.

 NOAA Organization

NOAA provides these services through six major organizations: the NOAA National Weather Service, NOAA's National Ocean Service, NOAA Fisheries - National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA Satellites and Information, NOAA Research, NOAA Office of Program Planning and Integration, and numerous special program units such as NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations. In addition, NOAA research and operational activities are supported by the Nation's seventh uniformed service, The NOAA Corps, a commissioned officer corps of men and women who operate NOAA ships and aircraft, and serve in scientific and administrative posts.

NOAA also has a variety of Staff Offices, including the Acquisition and Grants Office, the Workforce Management Office, the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the Office of Education and Sustainable Development, the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology, the Office of General Counsel, the Office of International Affairs, the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Office of Public, Constituent and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of the Under Secretary, and the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary.

 NOAA Locations

The Hand Statue SSMC Wave Pool SSMC Building 3
SSMC - "The Hand" SSMC Wave Pool SSMC

NOAA employees work in virtually every state and our ships and planes deploy staff around the world. Headquarters offices are located at the Department of Commerce in Washington D.C. and NOAA's Silver Spring Metro Center (SSMC) campus in Silver Spring, MD. The SSMC complex houses headquarters offices for all of the bureau’s line offices, staff offices and program groups, including the NOAA National Weather Service, NOAA Ocean Service, NOAA Fisheries, NOAA Satellites, and NOAA Program, Planning, and Integration. Situated in downtown Silver Spring, SSMC is home to 80 percent of the agency's Washington-area employees. It is conveniently located next to the Silver Spring Metrorail station on Metro’s Red Line and the Silver Spring MARC train station.

 NOAA’s Vision, Mission, Goals and Priorities

NOAA’s Vision: An informed society that uses a comprehensive understanding of the role of the oceans, coasts, and atmosphere in the global ecosystem to make the best social and economic decisions.

NOAA’s Mission: To understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our Nation’s economic, social, and environmental needs.

NOAA’s Goals and Priorities: To achieve its mission, NOAA’s focus is on four MISSION GOALS and a MISSION SUPPORT GOAL:

1. Protect, Restore, and Manage the Use of Coastal and Ocean Resources through an Ecosystem Approach to Management
2. Understand Climate Variability and Change to Enhance Society's Ability to Plan and Respond
3. Serve Society's Needs for Weather and Water Information
4. Support the Nation's Commerce with Information for Safe, Efficient, and Environmentally Sound Transportation
5. Provide Critical Support for NOAA's Mission

In an effort to build specific core strengths, NOAA has selected five core capabilities called CROSS-CUTTING PRIORITIES FOR THE 21st CENTURY that it recognizes as essential to support its mission goals.


 NOAA's History

NOAA is one of the major operating components of the Department of Commerce. When NOAA was formed in 1970, it pulled together agencies that were among the oldest in the Federal Government. These agencies included the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey formed in 1807, the Weather Bureau formed in 1870, and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries formed in 1871. When NOAA was formed, it was given specific responsibility for the rational development and conservation of marine fisheries, for leading the development of a consolidated national oceanic and atmospheric research and development program, and for providing a variety of scientific and technical services to other Federal agencies, private sector interests and the general public.

Under these agencies and their descendants, the United States has become recognized as a world leader in the sciences of geodesy, geophysics, meteorology, oceanography, meteorology, climatology, marine biology, and marine ecology. Additionally, the impetus given to various types of engineering and the advancement of the mathematical sciences by these organizations was and still is a major contribution to the welfare and well-being of our Nation.

Beside the science that has grown up within NOAA, the bureau is a leader in service. Our employees provide data, tools, and information to save lives both on our shores and within the interior of the United States. Millions of passengers and trillions of tons of cargo have safely come to our shores while guided by the charts of the Coast Survey and its descendant organizations. The American citizens whose lives have been saved by the warnings of the NOAA National Weather Service and the dollars saved by our national economy as a result of better forecasting are beyond measure. And the fight to save our fisheries for future generations continues to be led by NOAA Fisheries.

NOAA has the responsibility to predict changes in the oceanic and atmospheric environments and living marine resources, and to provide related data, information, and services to the public, industry, the research community, and other government agencies. These efforts range from warnings of severe events on short time-scales to information on climate shifts over decades or more.

Just as they fulfill NOAA's environmental prediction responsibility, most, if not all, of the bureau’s activities also contribute to the major Department of Commerce goal of Stimulating Productivity and Economic Development. Providing reliable forecasts and warnings of changing environmental conditions (like severe weather) protects life and property. NOAA's programs to predict and assess significant changes in the ocean, coastal and Great Lakes environments ensures the safe, efficient, and cost-effective use of those marine environments and their resources and promotes the development of associated industry. Providing reliable fishery stock assessments and projections can significantly enhance the magnitude of the contribution of the domestic fishing industry to the U.S. balance of trade. The goals, responsibilities and programs of NOAA today reflect a continued commitment to the philosophy that created it. NOAA's primary mission and the ultimate goal of all its activities is to predict environmental changes on a wide range of time and space scales in order to protect life and property, and provide industry and government decision-makers with a reliable base of scientific information.

Page last edited: July 28, 2016

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