The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In September 2009 the Foundation signed a cooperative agreement with the Consortium for Ocean Leadership that supports the construction and initial operation of the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). Construction of the OOI facility was funded by NSF through the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account.
The OOI is the National Science Foundation's contribution to the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). While the science-driven OOI is focusing on discoveries enabled by new technologies, IOOS is concentrating on direct applications to everyday societal needs. IOOS data will feed into the Global Ocean Observing System, an international program with similar goals.