Environmental Studies Planning


Science for Informed Decisions

BOEM must comply with numerous environmental statutes, regulations, and executive orders to carry out its mission. BOEM is dedicated to acquiring and using the highest quality scientific information in support of Bureau decisions. To that end, the Environmental Studies Program (ESP) employs a rigorous planning, review and procurement process to meet the nation’s environmental research needs for Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) resource assessments.

The ESP in Headquarters and Regional program offices prepare the annual Studies Development Plans (SDP) to cover a three-year planning period. The plan includes brief study descriptions or profiles that describe proposed studies for the upcoming fiscal year and for one successive year. These studies are designed to collect the information necessary to meet the needs of the users, including BOEM scientists, rule writers, modelers, and decision makers. Proposed studies are evaluated for program relevance, programmatic timeliness, and scientific merit. Additional program oversight is provided by the Committee on Offshore Science and Assessment on Environmental Science and Assessment for Ocean Energy Management to provide independent, scientifically credible and objective information on issues relevant to BOEM’s environmental studies and assessment activities and to support discussions on relevant issues. Collectively, these inputs contribute to the development of research plans.

BOEM also maintains a complete description of ongoing BOEM studies by region. Each listing describes the research being conducted, the scientific discipline, the institution performing the work, the cost of the effort, timeframe, and any associated publications, presentations, or affiliated web sites.

BOEM has published its FY2019-2021 Environmental Studies Development Plan.

Current and Previous SDPs

While the SDP serves a primarily internal planning function, it is a publicly available document and is used to communicate the proposed studies both internally within BOEM and externally with potential partners and other interested parties. The SDP and resulting studies undergo peer review at several stages to ensure the quality of the work proposed. When completed, the annual SDP forms the basis for the National Studies List (NSL).

To formulate the NSL, the offices in each Region and Headquarters develop a priority order for the many studies proposed in their SDP's. These lists are evaluated again by Headquarters, principally considering program relevance, timing, and budgetary constraints. Discussions are conducted with each of the program offices and when consensus is achieved, the NSL is recommended for approval. Once the annual appropriations for the Department have been approved, studies on the NSL are procured via competitive procurements, cooperative agreements with a State institution or university, or through inter/intra agency agreements with other Federal agencies.

It is important to note that the NSL is subject to change throughout the course of the year as conditions warrant and due to budgetary constraints.