An Early Evaluation of NOAA’s Habitat Matrix Program

January 2009 - Like many other federal agencies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) strives to fully meet its performance and accountability responsibilities to the Congress and the American people.

Building upon its previous work for NOAA that focused on maintaining and protecting the nation’s marine fisheries and marine sanctuaries, the National Academy evaluated NOAA’s efforts to protect and restore coastal and marine habitats—the essential living environments upon which the nation’s commercial and recreational fish populations depend.

Key Findings

NOAA faces significant challenges in improving performance and demonstrating success. To help NOAA meet these challenges, this report recommended improvements in program designs, investment priorities and performance measures. The National Academy Panel’s recommendations include: 1) Establish an overarching statutory framework to unify diverse habitat programs around outcome-oriented goals; 2) Strengthen performance goals and annual targets; 3) Increase the scientific support for habitat assessments and progress reporting; and 4) Work more closely with the program’s numerous partners and stakeholders.