Twice a year, representatives from each of the Integrated Ocean Observing System’s (IOOS) 11 regional nodes gather together to share updates and strategize on advancing IOOS’ critical coastal observing efforts. The fall meeting rotates among the regions, while the spring meeting, held in Washington D.C., coincides with March Madness (D.C. Style), marking the beginning of Congressional appropriations season. Typically, spring meetings span two days of programmatic discussion and one day for Hill visits. 

This year, Jennifer Boehme and Shelby Brunner represented GLOS at the Spring Meeting. The timing of the meeting offered unique opportunities for both GLOS and IOOS. GLOS was actively  preparing testimony for the Great Lakes Mapping Act, slated for presentation by Jennifer before the House Natural Resources Water, Wildlife and Fisheries Subcommittee the following week. Meanwhile, the FY2025 President’s Budget, which reduced the IOOS Regional Budget line by 76%, was released the day before the Spring Meeting began. Although less than ideal, the timing allowed the affected parties to strategize on coordinated messaging for presenting their concerns to Congressional offices just a few days after the budget was released.

GLOS annually updates Congressional staffers about its regional activities, especially those relevant to their particular districts, and the impact of coastal monitoring for their constituents. This year, with new leadership (Jennifer as GLOS CEO and Shelby joining for the first time), GLOS emphasized the adverse impacts on vital services like drinking water treatment monitoring and oil spill response management if the IOOS budget remains reduced. GLOS also requested support for the Great Lakes Mapping Act in the House and sought potential Senate co-sponsors. Shelby and Jennifer visited a total of 8 Great Lakes offices in all – 5 in the House and 3 in the Senate.

While the formal program offers valuable meeting time, the most significant aspect of the week lies in forging and strengthening relationships with staff across the regions and the IOOS Program Office. Informal conversations during breaks, shared stories at happy hour events, and (for a few) early morning group runs fosters authentic dialogues crucial for communication and collaboration. For example, following the meeting, Shelby reached out to the deputy director of NANOOS to explore lessons learned from their crab pot hypoxia monitoring project as GLOS developed a proposal.

The week of meetings provided ample opportunity for GLOS to collaborate with other regions on how to best continue serving our data providers and users, convey the value of their work to Congress, and develop relationships from IOOS colleagues to Congressional staff. Between exceptional weather and successful meetings, the only other thing we could have asked for was an inflation-adjusted fully-funded IOOS regional line item in the President’s Budget.


Written by: Shelby Brunner, Observing Technology Manager

P.S. A notable outcome from the proposed FY25 budget was the development of a Congressional support letter for our stakeholders to endorse IOOS. A big thanks to everyone in our region for their support. It is greatly appreciated.