The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) was requested in November 2008 by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) to facilitate a thorough and thoughtful community review of the nine centers that comprise NCEP, as well as the NCEP Office of the Director. This report summarizes the review of the Office of the Director (OD).
The vision of “NCEP as a whole” being greater than the sum of its parts is being realized but is also a work in progress. NCEP is performing well in its primary mission of providing products and services in support of protecting life and property in a timely manner. Many of its service centers are recognized as world leaders in their particular missions. The interactions between centers are increasing, although improvement is needed in this area. The Review Panel commends the strong leadership of the NCEP Director and his staff members for the significant progress NCEP has made over the past decade. NCEP’s mission is unique in the U.S., and has been noted as a “national resource”; as such, it has the opportunity to leverage this leadership and respect to achieve higher goals.
This is a very crucial, perhaps watershed, moment for NCEP in which effective leadership and resources are essential if NCEP is to regain/retain its competitive advantage in the world. Important decisions are imminent on how to lead and resource a large number of key initiatives, possibly in competition with other agencies or even other National Weather Services (NWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs.
The fundamental challenge within NCEP is that it is under-resourced for its mission. Each center reported that it is providing more services and products, with additional requests in the pipeline, with roughly the same number of personnel since the last review. At the Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) of NCEP, the numerous additional demands for improved or new modeling and data assimilation systems added to an already broad mission has precluded any one system from being considered “world-best.”
There is sentiment in the community that EMC is not equipped to fulfill its mission or realize its vision, i.e., it cannot deliver world-leading models with its current structure and broad mission, for which it is under-resourced. The EMC mission should be carefully evaluated and either reduced in scope to align with the resources or the resources should be increased to align with the broad mission. This should be done in combination with a comprehensive plan to initiate partnerships with other modeling groups within