There are now serious calls, both internationally and in National Research Council (NRC) documents for the development of a global climate monitoring system. It is imperative that the national climate program be based, with far greater clarity, on societal objectives, for only those objectives will sustain the program over the long term. A focus on societal objectives leads to a cascade of fundamental changes in the structure of the national effort. Societal objectives require an operational climate forecast that is tested and trusted. The operational climate forecast requires operational climate models and an observational strategy designed to test the veracity of those models. This constitutes a conceptual framework that sets disciplined and coherent priorities. It sets responsibility for the forecast squarely on the operational climate models and it demands very specific observations that (rather than satisfying the intent to “gather climate information”) are designed to directly test the forecast ability of the models.