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Appendix A Letter from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to Dr. Frank Press requesting establishment of a National Research Council committee to review the National Weather Service modernization and associated restructuring
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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE The Aniiumt Secretary National Oceanic and Attnospharic Admlniatratlon Washington. DC 20230 JUL 7 E~ Dr. Frank Press President, National Academy of Sciences 2101 Constitution Avenue Washington, D.C. 20418 Dear Dr. Press: I am writing to request the support of the National Research Council (NRC) as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) moves toward implementation of plans to modernize and restructure the National Weather Service. The formulation of these plans was both encouraged and assisted by the seminal study of NRC's Select Committee on the National Weather Service, whose report, Technological and Scientific Opportunities for Improved Weather and Hvdroloaical Service in the Coming Decade, was published in 1980. Subsequently, the NRC formed a study panel that reviewed plans of Federal agencies to upgrade the Nation's weather observing and processing systems. Its report, sent to the Administrator of NOAA by the Panel Chairman, John W. Townsend, Jr., in August 1987, also was helpful in assessing priorities and coordinating Federal efforts. After several years of internal planning within the Executive Branch, the Department of Commerce recently issued a Strategic Plan for the Modernization and Associated Restructuring of the National Weather Service. The Strategic Plan represents a first step in the planning process prescribed by Public Law 100-685, which was signed by the President in November 1988. This law establishes guidelines for planning, reporting, and certifying the modernization and restructuring. To support our efforts, I propose the establishment of an NRC review committee on the modernization and associated restructuring of the National Weather Service. As I envision it, the committee would have two broad areas of responsibility: (1) to help ensure the most cost-effective levels of systems and services by assessing the availability, applicability, and timing of appropriate underlying technological and scientific capabilities and (2) to help ensure the successful demonstration and acceptance of modernized and restructured Weather Service operations by reviewing test, demonstration, and certification plans and by independently reviewing the data collection and interpretation processes. Some specific areas for analysis and study include: 1. projections of the extent and timing of emerging scientific foundations of improved services and the THE DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR 64
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techniques and technologies needed to apply them operationally; 2. trade-offs of functional capabilities of the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System for the 1990's in terms of feasibility, risk, service impact, and cost; 3. review and assessment of performance, operational readiness, and value of radar wind profilers; 4. assessment of the availability and timing of automated, remote sensing, thermodynamic profilers; 5. review of the validity and effectiveness of methodologies for demonstrating that services are improved and not degraded when the new technological and organizational configurations are introduced; and 6. review the validity of the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data for demonstration and certification of service operations. These areas involve a very broad range of scientific and engineering issues, so I am writing both to you and Dr. White with this request. Individuals selected for the review committee should possess skills and experience in disciplines represented in both communities. I welcome your additional thoughts and suggestions on this proposal. I have asked Dr. Elbert W. Friday, Jr., Assistant Administrator for Weather Services, to assist me in working with appropriate persons representing the Academies in developing an action plan. I am anxious to establish an arrangement as soon as possible because significant decisions and actions are beginning to occur ever more frequently. The proposed review mechanism would serve a useful purpose throughout the national deployment of new technology and phaseover to the new structure, a time period extending into the mid-1990's. I look forward to developing another productive collaboration with the Academies that serves the best interests not only of the Government but of the Nation. Thank you for your cooperation. Sincerely, 'ton 65