In February 2009, a review team led by Dr. Alan P. Covich completed a rigorous assessment of NEON's science implementation plan and scientific scope. The review was high-level and appraised the network and informatics designs against the goals of advancing theory and developing new ecological forecasting capability. The panel concluded that the NEON Observatory Design will meet these challenges and is on course for the NSF Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of NEON in June 2009. The PDR will evaluate the scope and baseline budget for the Observatory and is a major step in NSF's Large Facility process. The document describing the design, the NEON Observatory Design (NOD), was formally merit-reviewed by Covich's team and approved for release to the community. The NOD will be distributed via the NEON web site and published as a stand alone document.