This Plan will guide R&D activities that NOAA funds or conducts itself. NOAA’s extended “R&D enterprise” includes, but is not limited to internal laboratories, science centers, Cooperative Institutes, grant recipients, Sea Grant Programs, and contractors. The planned R&D may, therefore, include activities, and associated infrastructure of Federal agencies (intramural) or of private individuals and organizations under grant, contract, or cooperative agreement (extramural). NOAA abides by the Federal definitions of research and development set by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Research is the “systematic study directed toward a more complete scientific knowledge or understanding of the subject studied.” Development is the “systematic use of the knowledge or understanding gained from research, directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, and systems or methods, including design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes.”
Rather than trying to distinguish between basic and applied research, at NOAA, we strive for R&D that is “use-inspired;” simultaneously intended to improve our fundamental understanding of the world and yield applications that are useful and used. Use-inspired research does not generate basic knowledge under the assumption that it might be applied later, somehow, by someone. Rather, specific uses are understood up front, and those uses are what direct R&D, including the generation of new knowledge.
The Plan addresses “R&D,” but does not address scientific activities that are part of regular NOAA operations (e.g., producing weather forecasts, collecting tide measurements). Per Federal definitions of R&D, it also excludes routine product testing, quality control, mapping and surveys, collection of general-purpose statistics, experimental production, and the training of scientific personnel. This Plan also does not focus on the details of implementing the specific R&D objectives and targets. However, this plan does account for infrastructure and regular activities in direct support of R&D. It also includes the transfer of knowledge and technology to applications.