NRDD Function


About the NRDD | NRDD Data & Data Fields | NRDD Access and Roles | Data Entry | Readiness Levels & Transition Plans


About the NRDD

What prompted the creation of the NRDD?

In 2009, NOAA's Senior Science Advisor tasked the Science Council (formerly NOAA Research Council) to develop: "...Guidance and mechanisms for standardized reporting and monitoring of all NOAA Research and Development activities, at least at the program level, to include total costs, major outputs, and other performance measures, and where available, outcomes..." In September 2016, the NOAA Research Council voted unanimously to implement an R&D database (then called the Projects Database Management System), and the NOAA Chief Scientist signed a Memorandum requiring NOAA-wide participation.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrative Order (NAO) 216-115B provides guidance by which research and development throughout NOAA can be continually planned, reviewed, evaluated, and rebalanced according to evolving mission needs. This NAO mandates that for NOAA to maintain accountability for NOAA’s research and development (R&D) portfolio, planned and actual NOAA R&D investments for NOAA research and development will be enumerated and monitored in a database.

Today, NOAA monitors its research and development portfolio through the NOAA Research and Development Database (NRDD), an online repository that serves as a single access point for data about R&D projects conducted by NOAA and NOAA-funded external partners.

Who provides oversight of the NRDD?

The NRDD is governed by the NOAA Research and Development Enterprise Committee (RDEC) of the NOAA Science Council. The NOAA RDEC has representatives from each NOAA Line Office (LO) who collectively make decisions about NRDD requirements, enhancements, improvements, and overall strategy.

Who should I contact if I have questions about the NRDD or need technical assistance?

The NRDD Admin team manages most user requests and general NRDD questions. Send an email to or contact Meka Laster (301-734-1070) or Ishrat Jabin (240-583-7494) or Karin Bucht (541-760-7673).


NRDD Data & Data Fields

How is a 'project' defined in the NRDD?

A project is defined as: “a sequence of tasks that must be completed to attain a certain finite output.” In the context of NOAA R&D, a project is further defined as a planned effort that develops novel knowledge, improves upon technology, or otherwise aims to describe, predict, or explain some specified phenomena, and includes hypothesis-driven research.

A project is temporary and has a definite beginning and end. It can be managed by one or more people depending on the complexity. Programs differ from projects in that programs can contain multiple projects.

To be included in the NRDD, a project must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  1. Defined objective(s), final deliverable(s), and output(s)
  2. Defined timeline/endpoint (generally up to 4 years, but can be longer for some projects)
  3. Defined budget, personnel working on the project, and/or other leveraged resources (e.g., ship or aircraft time)
  4. Single designated Readiness Level at the beginning of the project and expected Readiness Levels at the end of the project. (See NAO 216-105B for the definition of Readiness Levels).

Operational systems (e.g., operational observing systems) are not considered R&D projects, even if effort and/or funds are spent to maintain these systems, and even if they generate scientific data. However, each hypothesis-driven endeavor that uses the resulting data to answer a specific scientific question would be entered into the NRDD as a project. Similarly, any R&D effort to improve operational system technology would be entered as an NRDD project.

What data fields are housed in the NRDD?

The NRDD contains R&D project metadata. Please note that not all data fields are required; refer to information on mandatory fields for more detail.

The R&D data currently collected in the NRDD include:

  • Owner information (project title, accountable office, points of contact, project team)
  • Project goals (timeline, final deliverables, milestones, performance measures)
  • Project description (summary, societal benefits, keywords, URLs)
  • Transition information (readiness level tracking, transition plans, adopters)
  • Research partnerships (internal and external partner and stakeholder organizations)
  • Strategic plan linkages (NOAA R&D Plans, Next Generation Strategic Plan, DOC Strategic Plans)
  • Estimated resource information* (funding lines, grant numbers, planned and actual annual project cost, leveraged resources)

See the NRDD Fields List for a complete list of data fields.

* Resource information data fields are optional and are only visible for certain NRDD users

What are mandatory fields?

Mandatory fields are data fields that must be completed before a project entry can be submitted and approved. There are currently 20 mandatory data fields. All other NRDD data fields are optional to enable users to use and track additional project information if desired.

Mandatory field requirements for the NRDD have changed over time. See the NRDD Fields List for more information on which data fields are currently required and historical changes in mandatory field requirements.

What is an approved project?

As a data quality measure, all project entries are submitted to an organization manager for approval upon completion. The approving manager must be a NOAA Federal Employee with fiscal and managerial oversight of the project (typically at the Deputy Director or Branch Director level). They are responsible for ensuring that the data entered are correct.

When a project is approved, it becomes visible to all NRDD users via the Project Search and Query Builder features.


NRDD Access and Roles

Who is responsible for entering NRDD project data?

The primary NOAA funding office for an R&D project is responsible for ensuring that the project is entered into the NRDD but can delegate project entry to the primary executing office (the NOAA office leading or executing the project’s R&D activities). A NOAA office contributing personnel or funds may be entered as either an Executing Office or Partner depending on their level of involvement in the project. Offices external to NOAA that are involved with the project should be entered under the Partners tab.

As a U.S. Government database that contains fiscal information, NRDD access is restricted by Federal law to NOAA Federal Employees and Contractors. It is suggested that each NOAA office designate an NRDD Data Enterer, who is responsible for collecting information from PIs at partner institutions and entering it into the NRDD.

Please Note: NOAA’s Cooperative Institute (CI) Office requires that CI project proposals be entered into the NRDD before receiving funding (see CI Guidance Memo).  In these cases, projects are entered by the NOAA Project Sponsor, who may differ from the NRDD Data Enterer/POC for the same office.  It is recommended that NRDD Data Enterers/POCs search NRDD to become aware of any new projects that may have been entered on behalf of their office and work with the NOAA Project Sponsor to ensure those entries are kept up to date.

Who can use the NRDD? What information can they access?

As a U.S. Government database that contains fiscal information, the NRDD is restricted by Federal law to NOAA Federal Employees and Contractors. Any active NOAA Federal or Contractor employee can request an NRDD account.

Depending on their intended use of the NRDD, users are assigned ‘roles’ that grant access to different information.

  • Viewers can use the NRDD to browse or find R&D project information via project search and query builder. Viewers have access to all approved NRDD projects.
  • Data enterers create NRDD projects and enter data for their own projects or projects assigned to them. They are also responsible for editing project data for returned records. Data enterers can also view NOAA-wide approved NRDD project data via project search and query builder.
  • Approving managers are responsible for reviewing NRDD and approving project data before a project is designated as ‘approved’ and viewable in the database. They have access to projects they create as well as projects from their respective Line/Staff Office. Approving managers must be NOAA Federal Employees with fiscal and managerial oversight of the project (typically at the Deputy Director or Branch Director level). Projects can be delegated to approving managers by organization managers or data enterers.
  • Organization managers are NOAA Federal Employees who oversee a division or office. Organization managers can view, edit, and return or approve all project data for all projects (regardless of status) in their office/division.
  • Cooperative Science/Cooperative Institute roles can be granted to NOAA affiliates who are employees of NOAA Cooperative Science Centers (CSCs) or NOAA Cooperative Institutes (CIs). These individuals can only view project data for approved projects associated with their CSC/CI. They cannot view resource data.

What is a delegate role? Why use it?

Users can delegate individuals as data enterers and/or approving managers for individual projects via the ‘Submit’ tab of the project editor. Delegates inherit all of the permissions of the assigned role (either data enterer or approving manager). Delegates can only edit or approve the projects assigned to them.

There are various reasons for delegating roles, including assisting with data entry or data preparation, additional help managing projects, or in cases where a data enterer or approving manager is going on vacation.


Data entry

How do projects get added, approved, and updated in the NRDD?

Projects can be added and updated in the NRDD via two main processes.

The web editor is available 24/7 to all NRDD data enterers and allows users to create and update projects one at a time. The general process for entering, approving, and updating records is as follows:

  1. The data enterer opens a new project in Create Project and begins entering data. Once the Owners tab of the project is complete, the data enterer may save and exit the Create Project function. They can return to the project later via the Edit Project or My Dashboard tab.
  2. Once all mandatory fields are complete, the project is submitted to the default or delegated approving manager for approval.
  3. Upon submission, an email alert will be sent to the approving manager, notifying them that the project is ready to review for approval. The approving manager may either approve the project or return it to the data enterer with comments. If returned, the data enterer must review and address comments, then resubmit for approval.
  4. Once approved, the project is visible to all NRDD users via the Project Search and Query Builder functions.
  5. To make changes to an approved project: the data enterer or approving manager must reopen the project before it can be edited. Once reopened, the project will lose its approved status until it has been resubmitted and reapproved. All active projects should be reopened, updated, and reapproved annually.

Bulk import/update templates are available to certain NRDD Line Office customers. Bulk upload templates in Google Sheets allow for collaborative data collection and simultaneous upload and approval of multiple projects into the NRDD.

For projects entered or updated via bulk templates, approving managers must review data in the Google Sheet and provide written approval to before import; all projects are auto-approved upon import.

For more information or to request a bulk template, contact

How can I request to add external organization or keyword options to the NRDD?

External Organizations

Users can request to add additional external partners or stakeholders via the External Organization Request Form. Before submitting a request, please check to ensure that the name of the organization isn’t already in the database under an alternate spelling (e.g. with or without an acronym). External organization requests are generally reviewed within seven business days.

If you do not see an option for a NOAA office that is involved in a project, please contact


Users can request to add new keywords to the NRDD via the Keyword Request Form. Please note that keyword requests are only reviewed quarterly. If a request is approved, the requestor will receive an email once the requested keyword is added.

To keep the number of NRDD keywords manageable only keywords fitting the following criteria may be added:

  1. Not covered by any other NRDD field (e.g., since NRDD has a Hurricane Supplemental field, Hurricane Supplemental is not a needed keyword)
  2. Encompasses multiple search terms (e.g., Blue Economy encompasses projects in many areas, such as aquaculture, tourism, habitat, etc.)
  3. Relevant to more than one NOAA Line Office.
  4. Linked to over 20 projects in NRDD.

Please note that keywords are optional and most queries are conducted using a word or phrase search of the DESCRIPTION FIELDS. Incorporating key terms into the project description or benefits fields is the best way to ensure the searchability of specific terms.

Readiness Levels & Transition Plans

Where can I find transition plan resources?

For more information on R&D Transition Plans, please refer to NAO 216-105B and the accompanying handbook on NAO 216-105b. See the Office of Research, Transition, and Application (ORTA) for example transition plans and other transition resources. Questions can be directed to your Line Office Transition Managers Committee (LOTMC) representative.

How do I determine the readiness level (RL) of my project?

Understanding different Readiness Levels (RL) is a common question among NRDD users. Readiness Level (RL) guidance is provided in NAO 216-105B. In addition, this RL Guidance & Training Modules page is a useful resource that offers simplified definitions of RL and specific guidance for different types of project outputs. Questions can be directed to your NOAA Line Office Transition Managers Committee (LOTMC) representative.

How does the NOAA Research and Development Lifecycle map to readiness levels?

NOAA Readiness Levels are used to assess the maturity of research and development outputs. Below are the research and development lifecycle phases with the associated readiness levels:

  1. Research (RL 1-2)
  2. Development (RL 3-5)
  3. Demonstration (RL 6-8)
  4. Deployment (RL 9)

These NOAA R&D Cycle mapping to NASA Project Life Cycle slides provide additional information on readiness levels and the R&D project life cycle.