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Research Transitions

Transition Plans 

WPO works closely with the OAR Office of Research, Transition, and Application to develop and manage transition plan documents for R&D projects. A Transition Plan is a document that represents an agreement between clearly identified researchers and potential recipients, organizations, or other users of the product resulting from the transition of an R&D output. Transition Plans include general information about the project and a proposed process for how it can most efficiently be integrated into operations or other applications. Early (and often) coordination during a project allows for researchers, developers, and operators to identify both the potentials for success and possible limitations of both the new technologies/ideas and the existing operational framework, and strategize a connection between the two.

Per NOAA Policy, a Transition Plan should:

  • Be developed once, and updated as necessary;
  • Start simple, and gain complexity and detail as a project matures;
  • Have complexity and level of effort proportional to the scale, risk, maturity and
    scope of the project;
  • Be widely applicable to a range of planning or management needs;
  • Be able to serve as a supporting document to articulate how a specific activity or
    funding (or lack of), will impact the project;
  • Eventually cover all the expected activities, costs, milestones, etc. for the total life
    cycle (i.e., from the current RL of the Transition Project through deployment including operations and maintenance costs).

A Transition Plan should NOT:

  • Be tailored to a specific program, request for proposals (RFP), or data call;
  • Be a scientific or technical proposal;
  • Be an implementation or deployment plan.



NOAA transition plans must ultimately be signed by the Assistant Administrator (AA) and Line Office Transition Manager (LOTM) of the affected Line Offices. WPO manages a process to ensure that draft plans submitted by the PI and POC are sufficiently reviewed and vetted by technical experts prior to LOTM and AA review. At any point in the approval process, the PI and POC may be asked to provide edits or responses to specific concerns.

Reviewers may include:

  • WPO Program Management
  • Receiving Office Director or designee
  • NOAA research laboratory (for projects involving a substantial investment by a NOAA Lab)
  • WPO Director
  • Relevant NWS Service Delivery Portfolios (for proposed transitions to NWS operations, as coordinated by NWS Office of Science and Technology Integration)

The PI is responsible for submitting an unsigned draft transition plan to their funding program within (at most) six months from the project start date. WPO will then coordinate the review process and collection of signatures. A completed transition plan will include signatures from:

  • Project POC
  • Director of proposed receiving office
  • WPO Director
  • LOTM of affected line offices
  • AA of affected line offices


Additional Resources

For additional information on transition plans, visit the NOAA Research Council website on the Policy on Research and Development Transitions.

NOAA Research Council has also made available several example transition plans.

A sample Transition Plan Template is available for download here. This template is designed for projects in the Joint Technology Transfer Initiative (JTTI) program, but the format is similar for all WPO programs. However, since each program may require unique information in their transition plans, please check with your specific program’s management team for a template specific to your program.