The National Weather Service


and Associated Restructuring


Committee on the Assessment of the
National Weather Service’s Modernization Program

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Division on Earth and Life Studies


Washington, D.C.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

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Committee on the Assessment of the National Weather Service’s Modernization Program Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Division on Earth and Life Studies

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS • 500 Fifth Street, N.W. • Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under contract number DG133R08CQ0062, Task Order #8. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsor or any of its sub agencies. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-21798-9 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-21798-9 Copies of this report are available from the program office: Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 (202) 334-3512 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advis- ing the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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COMMITTEE ON THE ASSESSMENT OF THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE’S MODERNIZATION PROGRAM JOHN A. ARMSTRONG (Chair), Retired, IBM Corporation, Amherst, Massachusetts JAMES D. DOYLE, Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, California PAMELA EMCH, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Redondo Beach, California WILLIAM B. GAIL, Microsoft Corporation and Global Weather Corporation, Boulder, Colorado DAVID J. GOCHIS, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado HOSHIN V. GUPTA, University of Arizona, Tucson HOLLY HARTMANN, University of Arizona, Tucson KEVIN A. KLOESEL, University of Oklahoma, Norman NICHOLAS LAMPSON, Retired, United States House of Representatives, Beaumont, Texas JOHN W. MADDEN, Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Fort Richardson GORDON MCBEAN, University of Western Ontario, Canada DAVID J. MCLAUGHLIN, University of Massachusetts, Amherst ADRIAN E. RAFTERY, University of Washington, Seattle JAMES L. RASMUSSEN, Retired, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Frederick, Maryland PAUL L. SMITH, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City JOHN TOOHEY-MORALES, NBC-6 WTVJ-TV and ClimaData, Miami, Florida NRC Staff MAGGIE WALSER, Study Director RICARDO PAYNE, Senior Program Assistant v

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Preface T he Modernization and Associated Restructur- deploy, and oversee the MAR. The second phase of our ing (MAR) of the National Weather Service work will apply the lessons learned from the MAR to (NWS) was a large and complex reengineering advise NWS on how best to plan, deploy, and oversee of a federal agency. The process lasted a decade and future improvements, and will be presented in a second cost an estimated $4.5 billion. The result was greater report. integration of science into weather service activities This congressionally requested report presents the and improved outreach and coordination with users of first comprehensive assessment of the execution of weather information. It was responsible for a marked the MAR and its impact on the provision of weather increase in the accuracy and timeliness of forecast and services in the United States. This assessment would warning services provided to the nation by the NWS. not have been possible without the assistance of many The modernized NWS was achieved through the of our colleagues in the weather enterprise. The com- development and deployment of new observational and mittee would like to acknowledge the many individuals computational systems and redefining the NWS field who briefed us, provided written information, or other office structure to best utilize the investment in the new technical information. They include Carl Bjerkaas, technologies. Gary Carter, Valery Dagostaro, Joe Facundo, George The MAR was both necessary and generally well Frederick, Joe Friday, Mary Glackin, Richard Hallgren, executed. However, it required revolutionary, often Jack Hayes, Rick Heuwinkel, Richard Hirn, Fiona difficult, changes. The procurement of large, complex Horsfall, Jack Kelly, Chuck Kluepfel, Ken Kraus, Sandy technical systems presented challenges in and of itself. MacDonald, Lauren Marone, Frank Misciasci, Joel The MAR also affected the career paths and personal Myers, Vickie Nadolski, Tim Owen, Maria Pirone, lives of a large portion of the field office workforce. Bill Proenza, Barry Reichenbaugh, Buddy Ritchie, Jae- The MAR created a new, modernized NWS, and, Kyung Schemm, Bob Serafin, John Sokich, Margaret significantly, it created a framework that will allow Spring, Louis Uccellini, Rich Vogt, Glenn White, and the NWS to keep up with technological changes in Doug Young. a more evolutionary manner. In addition to this new The committee is particularly grateful to the NWS framework, the MAR also resulted in many “Lessons staff who hosted committee member Weather Fore- Learned” for the NWS. It is our hope that the NWS cast Office (WFO) site visits. They include Pat Baye, will apply the lessons we have identified in this report Eric Boldt, Dave Carpenter, Brad Coleman, Glenn as they map their future direction. F ield, Michael Foster, Bob Glancy, Gene Hafele, This report contains the first part of the commit- Robert Hopkins, Mark Jackson, Jayme Laber, Jim tee’s work, a retrospective assessment of the MAR Lee, Harold Opitz, Robin Radlein, David Reynolds, with a focus on lessons learned from the effort to plan, Nezette Rydell, Glen Sampson, Susan Sanders, Pablo vii

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viii PREFACE Santos, Robert Thompson, Steve Todd, David Vallee, Our sincerest thanks are extended to Edward and Steve Zubrick. Johnson and John Sokich for providing information We would also like to acknowledge the NWS staff and helping with access to NWS staff and facilities. who assisted with our survey of WFOs collocated with The committee is greatly indebted to Study Direc- academic or other research institutions. They include tor Maggie Walser and to Senior Program Assistant Peter Ahnert, Jonathan Blaes, Bruce Budd, Dave Ricardo Payne for their expert support. Carpenter, Tony Hall, Ray O’Keefe, Rhett Milne, D avid Reynolds, Nezette Rydell, Glen Sampson, John A. Armstrong, Chair Dennis Staley, Ray Tanabe, and Mark Tew. Committee on the Assessment of the National Weather Service’s Modernization Program

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Acknowledgments T his report has been reviewed in draft form by Erik Pytlak, Bonneville Power Administration, individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives Portland, Oregon and technical expertise, in accordance with Robert Serafin, National Center for Atmospheric procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Research, Boulder, Colorado Committee. The purpose of this independent review George Smith, Riverside Technology, Inc., is to provide candid and critical comments that will Moneta, Virginia assist the institution in making its published report as Warren Washington, National Center for sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and Joseph Yura, Retired, University of Texas, Austin responsiveness to the study charge. The review com- ments and draft manuscript remain confidential to pro- Although the reviewers listed above have provided tect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to many constructive comments and suggestions, they thank the following individuals for their participation were not asked to endorse the conclusions nor did they in their review of this report: see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Dr. Margaret Leo Andreoli, Retired, Northrop Grumman LeMone, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Aerospace Corporation, Torrance, California Boulder, CO. Appointed by the Report Review Com- Grady Booch, IBM Research, Littleton, Colorado mittee, she was responsible for making certain that an William Hooke, American Meteorological independent examination of this report was carried out Society, Washington, DC in accordance with institutional procedures and that all Roger Pielke Sr., Colorado State University, review comments were carefully considered. Responsi- Fort Collins bility for the final content of this report rests entirely Maria Pirone, Harris Corporation, with the authoring committee and the institution. Washington, DC ix

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x ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Institutional oversight for this project was provided by BOARD ON ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES AND CLIMATE ANTONIO J. BUSALACCHI, JR. (Chair), University of Maryland, College Park GERALD A. MEEHL (Vice Chair), National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado RICHARD CARBONE, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado KIRSTIN DOW, University of South Carolina, Columbia GREG S. FORBES, The Weather Channel, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia LISA GODDARD, Columbia University, New York, New York ISAAC HELD, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton, New Jersey ANTHONY JANETOS, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of Maryland, College Park HAROON S. KHESHGI, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, Annandale, New Jersey MICHAEL D. KING, University of Colorado, Laboratory for Atmospheric & Space Physics, Boulder, Colorado JOHN E. KUTZBACH, University of Wisconsin, Madison ARTHUR LEE, Chevron Corporation, San Ramon, California ROBERT J. LEMPERT, The RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California ROGER B. LUKAS, University of Hawaii, Honolulu SUMANT NIGAM, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, College Park, Maryland RAYMOND T. PIERREHUMBERT, University of Chicago, Illinois KIMBERLY PRATHER, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California RICH RICHELS, Electric Power Research Institute, Inc., Washington, DC DAVID A. ROBINSON, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey KIRK R. SMITH, University of California, Berkeley JOHN T. SNOW, University of Oklahoma, Norman CLAUDIA TEBALDI, Climate Central, Princeton, New Jersey XUBIN ZENG, University of Arizona, Tucson NRC Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Director EDWARD DUNLEA, Senior Program Officer LAURIE GELLER, Senior Program Officer MAGGIE WALSER, Program Officer KATIE WELLER, Associate Program Officer LAUREN BROWN, Research Associate RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator ROB GREENWAY, Program Associate SHELLY FREELAND, Senior Program Assistant RICARDO PAYNE, Senior Program Assistant AMANDA PURCELL, Senior Program Assistant ELIZABETH FINKLEMAN, Program Assistant GRAIG MANSFIELD, Financial Associate

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Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 7 Study Context and Charge to the Committee, 8 Study Approach and Methodology, 8 Organization of the Report, 9 2 PRE-MODERNIZATION ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING 11 Pre-Modernization Weather Service, 11 Execution Objectives, 15 Promised Benefits, 16 3 EXECUTION OF THE MODERNIZATION AND ASSOCIATED RESTRUCTURING 19 Management and Planning, 19 Modernization of Technology, 25 Restructuring of Forecast Offices and Staff, 34 National Centers, 36 Partnerships, 38 O versight and Advisory Groups, 41 4 IMPACT OF THE MODERNIZATION AND ASSOCIATED RESTRUCTURING 45 Management and Planning, 45 Modernization of Technology, 47 Restructuring of Forecast Offices and Staff, 59 National Centers, 62 Partnerships, 63 O versight and Advisory Groups, 66 Additional Impacts, 67 Framework for Evolution Rather Than Revolution, 71 xi

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xii CONTENTS 5 LESSONS LEARNED 73 REFERENCES 79 APPENDIXES A Acronyms and Abbreviations 87 B Prior Assessments of the Modernization and Associated Restructuring 92 C Weather Forecast Office Site Visits 94 D National Weather Service Offices Collocated with Academic Institutions: Summary of Questionnaire Responses 95 E Automated Surface Observing System Impact on the Climate Record 99 F Statement of Task 101 G Biographical Sketches of Committee Members 103