NSF Awards Contract to WHOI to Lead OOI Program Management

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it has awarded a coalition of academic and oceanographic research organizations a five-year contract to operate and maintain the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). The coalition, led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), with direction from the NSF and guidance from the OOI Facilities Board, will include the University of Washington (UW), Oregon State University (OSU), and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

For more information please see the WHOI Press Release.

The OOI officially launched in 2009, when NSF and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) signed a cooperative agreement to support the construction and initial operation of OOI’s cabled, coastal, and global arrays. The launch represented the culmination of work begun decades earlier, when ocean scientists in the 1980s envisioned a collection of outposts in the ocean that would gather data around the clock, in real- and near-real time for years on-end and enhance the scientific community’s ability to observe complex oceanographic processes that occur and evolve over time scales ranging from seconds to decades and spatial scales ranging from inches to miles.

COL has housed the Program Management Office for the OOI from 2009 to present, carrying the program from design, through construction, and into operations with the help of its partners WHOI, UW, OSU, and Rutgers.

In February 2016, the NSF announced that as part of the planned transition from construction to operations it would carry out a re-competition to manage and operate the OOI. COL elected to not compete for the award.

“We have been honored to work with so many dedicated people in bringing this transformational project from the drawing board to the fully operational status that we have today,” said Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jonathan White, president and CEO of COL. “Congratulations to WHOI and their partners on receiving this award and carrying the OOI program forward through its next phase of operation. We are pleased to pass the mantle to these outstanding institutions — that are also COL members — as they take on this great opportunity, and we look forward to the continued scientific advancements from this transformational program in the years ahead.”

For several months, leading up to the official transition on Oct. 1, COL has worked with WHOI to ensure a smooth changeover occurs.