Centers of Excellence Program

Creation and Administrative Assignment of FLRACEP

The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act, P.L. 112-141), establishes a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund in the Treasury of the United States. Eighty percent of the civil penalties paid after July 6, 2012, under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1321) in connection with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill will be deposited into this Trust Fund. RESTORE Act programs include five components, including the Centers of Excellence Research Grant Program (CERGP) (RESTORE Act regulations, sub-part H, section §34.700), mandated to receive 2.5% of Trust Fund principal plus 25% of the interest accrued, divided equally among the five Gulf coast state entities (0.5% to Florida). The Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) will host Florida’s CERGP, titled the Florida RESTORE Act Centers of Excellence Program (FLRACEP).

For more information about the visit the RESTORE Act.


FLRACEP’s vision is for sustainable Gulf Coast Region ecosystem goods and services, including living resources, fisheries and wildlife habitats, beaches, wetlands and coastal communities.


Our mission is to engage a broad base of non-governmental participants, including institutions of higher education, with interest and expertise in science, technology, and monitoring to support a healthy Gulf of Mexico environment and economy.

Research Goals

Research Disciplines

The Centers of Excellence Research Grant program funds science, technology, and monitoring in five listed disciplines. Based on public scoping, program funding levels, and with consent of the FLRACEP Program Management Team (PMT) and Treasury Office of Gulf Restoration, the program prioritized three of the five eligible RESTORE Act “disciplines”, which serve as the strategic goals:

  • Coastal sustainability, restoration, and protection, including solutions and technology that allow citizens to live in a safe and sustainable manner in a coastal delta in the Gulf Coast Region.
  • Coastal fisheries and wildlife ecosystem research and monitoring.
  • Comprehensive ecosystem observing, monitoring, and mapping.
Grants Program

FLRACEP grants are awarded via a competitive, peer-reviewed process. Florida-based non-governmental public or private institutions of higher education or other not-for-profit institutions lead each Center of Excellence (CoE). Each CoE includes experts across sectors, including members of non-profit or for-profit entities, government agencies, and public or private companies inside and outside of Florida. The program supports undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral associates, providing valuable field and research opportunities.

Organizational Structure

FIO & Program Management Team set the strategy and work directly with Treasury to obtain funds for RFPs. Proposals are reviewed through an external science review panel and final decisions are made by the Program Management Team.

Program Management Team

The Program Management Team (PMT) is an independent body that provides guidance and engages in the development of the program strategic plan, funding strategies, solicitation reviews, and funding approval.

Current Program Management Team
  • Anthony DiLernia, NY Charter Captain/MAFMC/Kingsborough CC
  • Evelyn Fields, Retired Rear Admiral, NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps
  • Monty Graham, Florida Institute of Oceanography Director
  • Holly Greening, Retired Tampa Bay Estuary Program Director
  • Julien Lartigue, NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program Director
  • Larry McKinney, Harte Research Institute Executive Director
  • Bonnie Ponwith, Retired NOAA SEFSC Director
Science Review Panel

The Science Review Panel (SRP) is an ad hoc team responsible for technical review of grant proposals. The SRP is nominated by the FIO Director and approved by the PMT members; the Panel will consist of science and technology experts not involved in any proposals, from in and outside Florida. In the event of a conflict regarding the FIO Director, then the PMT shall select the SRP members. 

Organizational Structure
Organizational Structure Gulf of Mexico - FLRACEP

View Requests for Proposals