LNO completes Operational Plan

Network News Spring 2010, Vol. 23 No. 1

LNO Update - The proposal for the renewal of the LTER Network Office (LNO), submitted in March 2008, was funded in two Cooperative Agreements (CA) dated May 1 and September 1, 2009.  The second CA includes funds to expand research synthesis efforts and to advance the development and implementation of the Network Information System (NIS).  In 2009, about $235,000 were allocated to research working groups and synthesis prospectus working teams from this CA.  Funds for the second CA come from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) finances. 

As one of the requirements for ARRA funding, the National Science Foundation (NSF) requested a detailed operational plan describing tasks and expenditures of funds and provided the LNO six months to complete this plan.  NSF further requested that the LTER Executive Board be closely involved in the development of the operational plan, and that external experts be consulted to assure interoperability between the NIS and other information management approaches. 

The first draft of the LNO operational plan was distributed to the LTER Executive Board, the Information Management Committee, and the Network Information System Advisory Committee on December 1, 2009.  The plan was prepared to address the requirements in the General Programmatic Terms and Conditions that govern the Decadal Plan Cooperative Agreement.  The LTER Executive Board provided advice and guidance on the scope and structure of the operational plan.  Specifically, the Executive Board requested that the operational plan cover all 17 activities proposed in both LNO Cooperative Agreements, rather than just the 10 activities in the Decadal Plan Cooperative Agreement, as requested by NSF.  Comments on the initial draft were incorporated in a second draft that was sent to the Executive Board, Information Management Committee, and the Network Information System Advisory Committee for additional review.  In addition, the second draft was reviewed by a panel of external reviewers, who met with the Executive Board and NISAC in January, 2010.  A final draft was prepared from this meeting and was approved by the Executive Board.  A revised version of the operational plan, covering only the 10 ARRA-funded activities, was submitted to NSF on February 28, 2010.

The existence of this plan provides a roadmap for synthesis and information management activities for the LNO during the next five years.  Annual reviews of LNO goals by the LTER Executive Board and the Network Information System Advisory Committee (focusing on NIS activities) will provide opportunities to adjust the operational plan to meet changing needs. 

Robert B. Waide is the Long Term Ecological Research Network Office's Executive Director