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National Academy Cites Progress
Made by Sanctuary Program

The National Academy of Public Administration has released a report, “Ready to Perform?  Planning and Management at the National Marine Sanctuary Program,” that evaluates the National Marine Sanctuary Program’s planning, budgeting and performance-based management systems.

The academy panel found that the program has made an excellent start and must continue its efforts to streamline its planning process and focus on performance.  The panel also found that the National Marine Sanctuary Program has grown substantially in recent years, and is uniquely positioned to experiment with place-based innovations in ocean governance that involve other agencies, communities and stakeholders.

This study was initiated in response to a recommendation from the White House Office of Management and Budget during a 2004 assessment of the sanctuary program.  The academy panel looked to determine the effectiveness of the sanctuary program’s unique civic approach to the ocean governance proscribed by the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and in support of the Nation’s agenda for marine conservation. 

Their findings state that “over the last three years, the National Marine Sanctuary Program has been developing sound planning systems, including a performance-oriented strategic plan, 19 performance measures, and a budgeting system coordinated with the 19 measures”. Given this, the panel concludes “sanctuaries are excellent places for testing new approaches to marine governance that promise better performance than the current system.”

The academy report provided recommendations to the sanctuary program in six thematic areas:  Strategic Plan, Sanctuary Management Plans, System-Wide Monitoring and Condition Reports, Annual Operating Plans, Planning and Guidance Documents, and National Marine Sanctuary Program’s Future.

The sanctuary program has already taken steps to address some of these recommendations and will continue to evaluate the implementation of others.  Click here (pdf) to review the summarized response of the sanctuary program to each recommendation.

A copy of the academy report is available here. (pdf, 3.8MB)

[NOTE: This is the second study of the sanctuary program undertaken by the academy.  In 2000, the academy did one of the first independent assessments of the sanctuary program.  The report, “Protecting Our National Marine Sanctuaries,” and associated news release is available on the academy Web site.]

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