Blue Accounting is an initiative and online platform that provides cutting-edge information services about the Great Lakes. This issue-based, goal-driven initiative will help leaders manage the world's largest freshwater ecosystem in a more collaborative, effective, and holistic manner.

Blue Accounting is a new initiative and online platform that provides cutting-edge information services about the Great Lakes. This issue-based, goal-driven initiative will help our leaders manage the world's largest freshwater ecosystem in a more collaborative, effective, and holistic manner.

Blue Accounting aims to support collaborative groups of key experts and stakeholders as they:

  1. Set shared goals, identify strategies to achieve those goals, and select metrics to track progress towards those goals
  2. Deliver timely, relevant, and reliable information to enable effective strategic Great Lakes decisions
  3. Adaptively manage strategies and decisions based on the progress reported

These pages represent the core of what Blue Accounting has set out to achieve: measuring and understanding results of investments in the Great Lakes by tracking the progress of metrics against key goals. Strategies provide context as to how the issue is being addressed.

Blue Accounting adds value to existing management efforts by providing decision-makers a big picture view of complex issues and relevant information, so they can set priorities and allocate resources most efficiently. To create this unique perspective, Blue Accounting brings the most critical information on management strategies, investments and progress into one place for leaders, decision-makers, practitioners and other stakeholders. Blue Accounting is not a comprehensive database, but rather a constantly evolving platform that integrates the most critical information that is essential and needed to guide decisions in each issue, as determined by our groups of key experts and stakeholders.

Blue Accounting is for leaders, decision-makers, practitioners and other stakeholders invested in our pilot issues who want to collaborate and track progress toward protecting, restoring and sustainably using the Great Lakes. A key subset of these stakeholders participates in issue-specific collaborative groups that inform each Blue Accounting pilot issue and ensure accurate and relevant information delivery to diverse stakeholder communities. Blue Accounting provides facilitation services to these groups and information management and delivery services to the broader community they represent.

A collaborative group of key experts and stakeholders informs the information management and delivery of each Blue Accounting issue. Some groups are pre-existing and perform other functions but are working with Blue Accounting to enhance collaboration and track progress. Some groups are determined by a policy, some groups were formed specifically to inform a Blue Accounting pilot, and some are a combination of types. All groups consist of key experts and stakeholders focused on a particular management issue and delivering relevant information through the Blue Accounting platform. Visit the issue pages to learn who is involved with each pilot issue:

No. There is a wealth of existing data for Great Lakes issues. Blue Accounting helps collaborative groups aggregate existing data to larger scales and integrate data across multiple metrics to provide a simpler, more complete picture of an issue. While Blue Accounting does not intend to collect new data and information, it may reveal gaps and a need for new data and information. 

Blue Accounting is convened by the Great Lakes Commission (Commission), a binational interstate compact agency established by the Great Lakes Basin Compact in 1955. Though the Commission convenes Blue Accounting, each issue is directed or advised by a group of key experts and stakeholders. You can learn more about the people powering these groups on the issue pages:

Blue Accounting receives funding support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy.

No. The objective of the Blue Accounting initiative is to provide information services for social, economic and environmental issues in the region and to support the development of goals and metrics in all three areas. Each dimension is critical to understanding the impact of actions and investments on the Great Lakes and their communities. 

The data and information on comes from a variety of sources including state, provincial and federal agencies, universities, and a diverse array of stakeholders and participants. Data and information has all been carefully curated by the workgroups supporting one of the Blue Accounting pilot issues. 

Over time, Blue Accounting plans to expand its support to additional issues. If you have an idea for an issue that you believe is a good candidate for the Blue Accounting initiative, please reach out to our Program Director, Victoria Pebbles at

The site is in a beta state. It went live in September 2017 and we’ve been making improvements since the launch. We have launched several new features in the site in both 2018 and 2019, with more planned to be released in 2020.  We look forward to working alongside our stakeholders to continue the development of Blue Accounting. 

Our workgroups have been hard at work determining what content to showcase on and sourcing the information they find most valuable to share. All of the groups are at various stages in this process and will continue to strategically publish information.

Users can provide feedback through the Contact Us form. We conducted remote user testing and a focus group interview in early 2018 where we gathered feedback on ease of use. In 2019 we gathered feedback on the website at multiple conferences around the region. Our workgroups will continue to collect feedback on information and data.  

The site has been designed to allow printing directly from your browser. In most browsers, you will see the option to print by right clicking the page. There is also a download button at the bottom of each page, where you can extract a pdf of the page.

The long-term trajectory of will be guided by the vision, principles, and audiences of the Blue Accounting initiative. As it grows into a state-of-the-art information management and delivery platform it will include additional content, more Great Lakes issues, and improved functionality.

Type the state or province into the “Search” field in the primary navigation bar on your desktop. On mobile, the search is accessible by expanding the menu in the top right corner. You can also click the “magnifying glass” without typing in anything. This will take you to a “Search” page, where you can filter results by state or province. 

Send a message through our Contact Us form and a member of the Blue Accounting team will reply to your message.