oversight

National Weather Service: Closure of Regional Office Not Supported by Risk Analysis

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-07-31.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                  United States General Accounting Office

GAO               Report to Congressional Requesters




July 1997
                  NATIONAL WEATHER
                  SERVICE
                  Closure of Regional
                  Office Not Supported
                  by Risk Analysis




GAO/AIMD-97-133
                   United States
GAO                General Accounting Office
                   Washington, D.C. 20548

                   Accounting and Information
                   Management Division

                   B-277460

                   July 31, 1997

                   The Honorable Thad Cochran
                   United States Senate

                   The Honorable Bob Graham
                   United States Senate

                   The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison
                   United States Senate

                   The Honorable Connie Mack
                   United States Senate

                   The Honorable E. Clay Shaw, Jr.
                   House of Representatives

                   This report is in response to your request that we review proposed staffing
                   cuts at the National Weather Service (NWS), a component of the National
                   Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within the Department of
                   Commerce. The objective of our review, based on subsequent discussions
                   with your staff, was to assess the NWS analysis supporting the planned
                   closure of its southern regional headquarters office, and its analysis of
                   alternative plans for maintaining its current regional structure of four
                   mainland offices.


                   NWS  did not perform any documented risk analysis to support its decision
Results in Brief   to close its southern regional headquarters office. Accelerating the
                   planned closure of this office was one of several actions taken in response
                   to a budget shortfall estimated by both NOAA and NWS to be about
                   $47 million for fiscal year 1997. While acknowledging that no risk analysis
                   was conducted, NWS officials stated that, on the basis of their professional
                   judgment, no degradation of service would occur from the closure because
                   the southern region’s responsibilities would be transferred to other
                   regional offices. Weather service users have raised concerns, however,
                   including whether the closure would adversely affect weather services and
                   jeopardize public safety and the protection of property.

                   Several alternative strategies for maintaining the current regional structure
                   were proposed by NWS regional officials. Headquarters officials rejected
                   these strategies primarily because they did not meet the agency’s overall




                   Page 1                                  GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
                 B-277460




                 staffing targets for the regions. Because of uncertainties surrounding NWS
                 funding, the Secretary of Commerce announced on June 25, 1997, that a
                 decision to close the southern regional office would be delayed for 60
                 days, to give outside experts an opportunity to complete a review of NWS’
                 budget and operations.


                 NWS’primary mission is to help protect life and property by providing
Background       weather and flood warnings, public forecasts, and advisories for all of the
                 United States, its territories, adjacent waters, and ocean areas. NWS
                 operations also support other agencies’ missions and the nation’s
                 commercial interests. For example, NWS provides specialized forecasts to
                 support aviation safety and the marine industry.

                 To fulfill its mission, NWS uses a variety of systems and manual processes
                 to collect, process, and disseminate weather data to and among its
                 network of field offices and regional and national centers. Many of these
                 systems and processes are outdated.

                 To address this obsolescence, during the 1980s NWS began modernizing its
                 observing, information processing, and communications systems to
                 improve the accuracy, timeliness, and efficiency of weather forecasts and
                 warnings. The modernization includes four major systems development
                 programs.

             •   The Next Generation Weather Radar, which is a program to acquire 163
                 Doppler radars that are expected to increase the accuracy and timeliness
                 of warnings for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and other hazardous
                 weather events.
             •   The Next Generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, a
                 program to acquire, launch, and control five satellites for identifying and
                 tracking severe weather events, such as hurricanes.
             •   The Automated Surface Observing System, a program to replace human
                 weather observers through automating and enhancing the current, largely
                 manual methods of collecting, processing, and displaying information on
                 surface weather conditions, such as temperature and precipitation.
             •   The Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System, intended to
                 integrate for the first time satellite, radar, and other data to support
                 weather forecaster decision-making and communications.




                 Page 2                                 GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
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The modernization also includes upgrades to existing systems and several
smaller system acquisitions. The total cost of the modernization is
estimated at about $4.5 billion.

We have identified several weaknesses in NWS’ actions to modernize its
operations and manage its information technology resources and made
numerous recommendations on how NWS can strengthen its management
of these resources. In 1995 we designated the NWS modernization as a
high-risk area due to its cost, complexity, past problems, and criticality to
NWS’ mission.1 We again included the modernization in our 1997 high-risk
report because of continuing concerns regarding cost increases and
schedule delays associated with the modernization.2

In conjunction with the modernization program, NWS plans to restructure
its field offices. As envisioned, this restructuring would reduce the number
of field offices from 254 to 118 and reduce the number of mainland
regional headquarters offices from 4 to 3. However, delays in
implementing two major modernization systems—the Advanced Weather
Interactive Processing System and the Automated Surface Observing
System—have slowed progress in office restructuring. NWS now expects
the modernization to be completed in fiscal year 1999.

As part of its restructuring, NWS had expected to close the southern
regional office after modernization was complete. The deployment of the
Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System was expected to help
facilitate this closure because the system would provide a means for quick
and easy communication among weather forecast offices, thus handling
the coordination function currently performed by the regional offices.
Other southern regional functions were to be transferred to the eastern
and central regional headquarters offices.

The NWS regional headquarters offices manage agency programs for
weather and flood warnings and forecast operations, including
(1) emergency preparedness; (2) modernization transition activities and
certification processes; (3) scientific, technical, and administrative support
to field offices; and (4) coordination of multistate programs and projects.
The regional offices provide management and technical support to field
offices, which are responsible for providing weather forecasts. As shown
in figure 1, NWS has six regional headquarters offices—southern, western,


1
 High-Risk Series: Overview (GAO/HR-95-1, February 1995).
2
 High-Risk Series: Information Management and Technology (GAO/HR-97-9, February 1997).



Page 3                                             GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
                                          B-277460




                                          central, eastern, Alaska, and Pacific—with a total of 292 full-time
                                          equivalents (FTE) as of September 30, 1996.


Figure 1: Location, Jurisdiction, and Full-Time Equivalent Employees of Each NWS Regional Headquarters Office as of
September 30, 1996




                      Salt Lake City                                                                     Bohemia, NY


                                                           Kansas City





 ,,
 
   ,
 

 
                                                     Fort Worth




          Anchorage




                                                     ,
                              Honolulu



                                         57 FTEs -                Eastern
                                                                  Central
                                       ,
                                         58 FTEs -
                                         61 FTEs -                Southern

                                         49 FTEs -                Western

                                         39 FTEs -                Alaska

                                         28 FTEs -                Pacific




                                          Page 4                                    GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
                      B-277460




                      To assess the degree of NWS analysis in support of the planned closure of
Scope and             the southern regional headquarters office, we reviewed NWS documents,
Methodology           including a transition report on the closure, cost comparisons of
                      maintaining a four mainland regional structure versus a three mainland
                      regional structure, alternative plans for keeping the four mainland regional
                      structures intact, and the estimated cost savings associated with the
                      closure of the southern region. In addition, we interviewed NOAA and NWS
                      officials about their closure plan; the costs, benefits, and risks associated
                      with the closure; and alternative plans to keep the four mainland
                      regions—southern, western, central, and eastern—intact. We also
                      interviewed southern region officials and weather service users in the
                      region, including representatives of the Texas Department of Public
                      Safety’s Division of Emergency Management, the National Emergency
                      Management Council of America, the Texas Gulf Coast Emergency
                      Management Association, and the Florida Division of Emergency
                      Management.

                      We performed our work at NOAA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and at
                      NWS headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, from May 1997 through
                      July 9, 1997. Our work was performed in accordance with generally
                      accepted government auditing standards. We requested comments on a
                      draft of this report from the Secretary of Commerce or his designee. NOAA
                      provided comments, which are discussed in the “Agency Comments and
                      Our Evaluation” section and are reprinted in appendix I. The comments
                      have been incorporated into the report where appropriate.


                      According to the former director3 of NWS and its deputy for operations, the
Planned Closure of    southern regional headquarters office had been earmarked for closure
Southern Regional     since 1982. At that time, NWS was considering a three mainland regional
Headquarters Office   structure in an effort to streamline regional operations. The former
                      director told us that since both the central and southern regional
                      headquarters are located in the central part of the United States,4 closing
                      one of the headquarters appeared to be the most economical solution.

                      According to the former director, an internal NWS analysis showed it to be
                      more cost-effective to close the southern region and keep the central
                      region open. He explained that several other NOAA and NWS facilities were

                      3
                       The Secretary of Commerce reassigned the director of NWS to other duties within NOAA on June 25,
                      1997.
                      4
                       The central regional headquarters office is located in Kansas City, Missouri; the southern region is
                      located in Fort Worth, Texas.



                      Page 5                                                 GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
B-277460




collocated within the area of the central regional office—a weather service
office, a NOAA administrative support center, and the National
Reconditioning Center.5 In contrast, he said there were no other NWS
activities collocated in the southern regional area. He also mentioned that
southern region functions, such as hurricane and severe weather support,
could be provided by both the eastern and central regional headquarters,
whereas the reverse was not the case. The southern region, for example,
could provide only limited support on winter weather warnings. The
former director was unable to provide us with a copy of the analysis
providing these reasons for closing the southern rather than the central
regional office, explaining that NWS may not have documented its analysis.

Despite attempts in the President’s annual budget proposals between
fiscal years 1982 and 1993 to close the southern region, the Congress
continued to restore funding to keep it open. In 1993, the Senate,
concerned that the closing would have an adverse effect on the pace of
modernization, directed in its report accompanying the appropriations act
that “any decision on consolidation of NWS regional headquarters be made
by the Administrator of NOAA only after a careful review of the savings
involved and of the impact on the NWS activities in the southern region.”6

In response, the Department of Commerce’s former chief financial officer,
in a January 28, 1994, letter, told the Chairman, Subcommittee on
Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary, Senate Committee on
Appropriations, that NOAA had determined that consolidating NWS regions
at this time would be disruptive. She said that, as the largest region, the
southern region was responsible for managing the modernization over a
10-state area,7 along with its day-to-day national public safety mission. She
said that NOAA would, therefore, delay the consolidation until the
modernization in 1998. However, due to delays in the implementation of
the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System, the modernization
is now scheduled to be completed in 1999 at the earliest. NWS planned to
move from a four mainland regional structure to one with three mainland
regional offices after modernization.



5
 The National Reconditioning Center provides depot-level maintenance, reconditioning, and quality
assurance of NWS operational equipment in support of NWS and other NOAA meteorological,
hydrological, and oceanographic equipment programs.
6
 Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill,
1994 (U.S. Senate Report 103-105, July 22, 1993).
7
 Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and
Texas.



Page 6                                               GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
                                      B-277460




                                      As part of an effort to downsize the federal government, NWS had to
Budget Shortfall                      operate within a tighter budget in fiscal year 1997 and anticipates reduced
Prompts Proposal to                   budget levels planned for the outyears. According to NWS’ deputy for
Close Southern                        operations, the estimated budget shortfall totalled about $47 million. As
                                      shown in table 1, the appropriation for base operations was about
Region Ahead of                       $27 million less than in 1996. In addition, she said, NWS had to absorb
Schedule                              another $20 million8 for pay-related inflation, personnel separations, and
                                      NOAA-wide and departmental costs. These figures were confirmed by the
                                      Administrator of NOAA. We did not independently verify this information.

Table 1: NOAA’s View of Fiscal Year
1997 Budget Shortfall                 (Dollars in millions)


                                      Reduction in NWS budget base for fiscal year 1997                                             $-27.5a
                                      Inflationary costs for fiscal year 1997                                                          –9.7
                                      Estimated separation costs                                                                       –5.0
                                      Additional share of department costs                                                             –5.9
                                      Reprogramming of funds for the National Hurricane Center                                             0.7
                                      Net shortfall                                                                                 $-47.4
                                      a
                                       The NWS budget for fiscal year 1997 was $27.5 million less than the amount appropriated in
                                      fiscal year 1996. Of this amount, $17 million in reductions was requested by the Administration in
                                      the President’s fiscal year 1997 budget, and $10.5 million was based on congressional action.

                                      Source: Dr. D. James Baker, Administrator of NOAA, in testimony before the Subcommittee on
                                      Science, Technology and Space, Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, U.S.
                                      Senate, May 15, 1997.



                                      To address this shortfall, NWS initiated a number of measures, both
                                      temporary and permanent. Temporary actions included freezing
                                      operational equipment replacements, reducing central logistics quantities,
                                      deferring central communications network operations and maintenance,
                                      and reducing operational supplies and stock levels. According to the
                                      former director and the deputy for operations, these measures—which
                                      total about $10.8 million—must be restored in fiscal year 1998 if NWS is to
                                      carry out its mission. Further, NWS officials did not fill 118 vacant positions
                                      in fiscal year 1997. In commenting on a draft of this report, the Department
                                      stated that these positions were not filled in order to mitigate the effect of
                                      reductions-in-force in the southern regional headquarters and the national




                                      8
                                      The $20 million includes a $715,000 one-time reprogramming of funds for the National Hurricane
                                      Center in Miami.



                                      Page 7                                               GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
B-277460




capital area.9 The Department added that by holding these vacancies, NWS
was able to provide the maximum level of placement opportunities for
employees directly affected by the reduction-in-force. NWS officials
consider these positions critical, however, and plan to fill them in fiscal
years 1997 and/or 1998.

Permanent measures included reducing staff in the national capital area,
streamlining central computer operations, reducing field outreach
activities, and curtailing most nonoperational travel. Another permanent
measure was to accelerate the closure of the southern region. As shown in
figure 2, by the closure of the southern region, NWS expected to go from a 6
region structure to a 5 region structure which included three mainland
regions, with a total of 233 FTEs (representing a reduction of 59 FTEs) as of
October 1, 1998.




9
 The national capital area refers to all NWS organizations managed directly by NWS headquarters in
Silver Spring, Maryland, and includes the national centers and NWS systems development teams and
operations.



Page 8                                              GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
                                           B-277460




Figure 2: Location, Jurisdiction, and Full-Time Equivalent Employees of Each NWS Regional Headquarters Office After the
Planned Closure of the Southern Regional Office as of October 1, 1998




                      Salt Lake City                                                                      Bohemia, NY


                                                         Kansas City





 ,,
 
   ,
 

       Anchorage




                                                      
                               Honolulu




                                          59 FTEs -         Eastern
                                                            Central
                                       ,
                                          60 FTEs -
                                          58 FTEs -         Western

                                          34 FTEs -         Alaska

                                          22 FTEs -         Pacific




                                           According to the former director of NWS, the decision to accelerate the
Acceleration of                            closure of the southern region was based on (1) the agency’s need to
Closure Not                                address budget reductions and (2) the fact that it was already scheduled
Supported by                               for closure in fiscal year 1999, upon completion of the modernization. The
                                           former director said that he met with the Administrator of NOAA on various
Documented Risk                            dates from August through December 1996 to discuss staff cutting options
Analysis                                   available to address the fiscal year 1997 budget shortfall. Among the



                                           Page 9                                    GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
B-277460




options proposed by the former director were (1) closing the southern
region, (2) consolidating the six regional offices into one, and (3) reducing
staff at the four mainland regional offices. He indicated that the
Administrator rejected both the consolidating the six regional offices into
one option and the reducing staff at the four mainland regions option.

The Administrator of NOAA told us that he provided overall guidance to the
former director of NWS to address the budget shortfall and that specific
cuts within this broad guidance were to be decided by NWS. Specifically, he
stated that the guidance mandated (1) no cuts to weather forecast offices
and river forecast centers, (2) no impact on the scheduled completion of
the modernization, and (3) no direct impact on the weather service
warning system. In December 1996, NWS proposed and NOAA approved a
decision to close the southern region, effective September 30, 1997.

According to NWS’ deputy for operations, the decision to accelerate the
closure of the southern region was based on “professional judgment”
rather than on any documented risk analysis. She did say, though, that
several internal cost analyses were conducted to support NWS’ decision to
close the region. For example, a December 5, 1996, cost analysis showed
that a general reduction-in-force, involving NWS headquarters and a four
mainland region structure, would result in a cumulative savings of about
$11.5 million. In contrast, a more targeted reduction-in-force, focusing on
some NWS headquarters staff and the closure of the southern regional
headquarters office, would result in savings of about $15.4 million,
according to NWS. And, in another cost analysis, prepared in May 1997, and
limited to just the closure of the southern region, NWS expected to save
$4.5 million in fiscal year 1998 and each subsequent year through the
closing.

However, according to cost information provided by NWS, the decision to
close the southern region, although triggered by the agency’s budget
demands, will actually result in additional costs of about $661,000 in fiscal
year 1997. This is primarily due to delays in staff termination. According to
information provided by NWS’ deputy for operations, of the 49 people in the
southern region as of May 27, 1997, 22 are expected to be reassigned to
other positions within NWS, 18 have not been placed, and 9 have accepted
financial enticements to retire. If the southern region was closed on
September 30, 1997, $4.4 million in savings would result, beginning in
fiscal year 1998, according to NWS.




Page 10                                 GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
                        B-277460




                        Emergency management officials we interviewed expressed concern that
                        the risks of the closing would not be worth the NWS-claimed budget
                        savings. Some of these officials believed that the closing would have a
                        direct effect on the people living in the areas covered by the southern
                        region, including a loss of public confidence in NWS warnings, an increase
                        in property damage, and loss of lives. One official pointed out that the
                        effects of NWS’ budget cuts were already being felt. Other emergency
                        officials were concerned that the planning and training for hurricanes,
                        tornadoes, and other severe weather events would not be performed as
                        effectively by the other regional offices.

                        NWS’ deputy for operations recognized that the closing would result in
                        some loss of service to users in the southern region. However, she said
                        that there would be no degradation in NWS’ ability to issue system
                        warnings. To alleviate some user concerns, she said NWS plans to reassign
                        two hurricane experts from the southern region to the central region,
                        which does not have meteorologists experienced with hurricanes. NWS also
                        plans to reassign a computer specialist to the eastern regional office.
                        According to the deputy for operations, the experts have been identified
                        and have agreed to report to their new locations.

                        Our discussions with the eastern and central regional office directors also
                        raised concerns about the closure and the transferring of functions to their
                        regions. The director of the eastern regional headquarters office was very
                        concerned that his office would be taking on far greater responsibilities
                        than could be managed. The director of the central region reserved
                        judgment as to whether his office could provide the necessary support to
                        the six additional states it will be assuming.


                        NWS headquarters did not, according to its deputy for operations, develop
No Viable,              any documented alternative plans that would enable it to keep intact the
Documented              current regional structure of four mainland offices and to meet the budget
Alternative Developed   shortfall and minimize adverse impact to weather service users. However,
                        she stated that several alternative proposals in support of keeping the
for Maintaining         southern region were prepared by the regional offices.
Current Regional
                        According to one proposal submitted by the 6 regional directors in
Structure               June 1996, each mainland regional office would have a staff of 45 FTEs for a
                        total of 180 FTEs, and an overall regional structure of 240 FTEs.10 According
                        to NWS’ deputy for operations, this proposal was rejected because it fell

                        10
                          The Alaska and Pacific regions were expected to have a total staffing level of 60 FTEs.



                        Page 11                                               GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
B-277460




short of the agency’s goal of reaching an overall regional staffing level of
189 FTEs and also because NWS believed that an across-the-board
reduction-in-force in all four mainland regions was seen as costing more
than closing one regional office in terms of staff morale as well as funds.

In a May 9, 1997, memorandum to the former director of NWS, the 4
mainland regional directors reaffirmed their June 1996 position favoring
the current management structure of 6 regions. They stated that any plans
to restructure the regions should wait until the modernization is complete.
Two of the regional directors informed the former director of NWS on
June 6, 1997, however, that while they signed the reaffirmation letter, they
could not effectively run their regions with a staff of 42-45 FTEs per
regional office. One regional director stated that given the choice of 3
mainland regions with a staff of 60 or 4 regional offices with staffs of 42-45
or fewer, he would have to support the 3 region structure.

The deputy director of the southern region also prepared a proposal in
April 1997, giving each of the 4 mainland regional offices 45 FTEs. This
proposal was similarly rejected for exceeding the regional staffing target
of 189.

Our analysis, however, showed that while the three alternative proposals
prepared by the regional offices exceeded the overall regional staffing
target of 189, NWS’ three mainland regional structure also exceeded that
ceiling. Specifically, if the southern regional headquarters office was
closed and its functions were transferred to the central and eastern
regions, the new regional staffing level would be 233—44 over the target.

In addition, according to NWS’ deputy for operations, the proposal from the
deputy director of the southern region was flawed in that it failed to factor
in additional non-labor costs of $900,000 for the four-region structure, and
it overstated the costs to close the southern region by $500,000 and to
consolidate the central and eastern regions by about $300,000. NWS further
stated that reducing staffing levels at each of the four mainland offices
increases the potential risk to the modernization program and operational
infrastructure because this risk would be spread to all four mainland
regions. Officials felt that the closure of the southern region would limit
this potential risk to just one region.




Page 12                                  GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
                       B-277460




                       On June 25, 1997, the Secretary of Commerce, saying that a great deal of
Recent Development     uncertainty had been raised recently regarding the funding needed by NWS
Affecting Closure of   to continue to perform its essential services, announced that he had
the Southern Region    appointed an outside special advisor on weather services to the
                       Administrator of NOAA. According to the Secretary’s announcement, the
                       special advisor, assisted by expert consultants, will conduct a rigorous
                       evaluation of NWS’ budget and operations and report back to him within 60
                       days. He also announced that the closure of the southern region would be
                       deferred until the review has been completed. To keep the modernization
                       effort on track, the Secretary announced that the Department would be
                       submitting a reprogramming request to cover unanticipated expenses for
                       fiscal year 1997.


                       Recognizing that NWS, like many other federal agencies, must make
Conclusions            unpopular decisions in order to downsize and streamline its operations to
                       meet budgetary constraints, it is nonetheless important that such decisions
                       be thoroughly analyzed and justified in terms of costs, benefits, and risks.
                       By not completing and documenting a risk analysis to support its decision
                       to close the southern regional headquarters office, NWS does not have an
                       adequate basis on which to assure weather service users in that area that
                       they will not be exposed to unnecessary risk. Similarly, NWS would have
                       benefited from a documented analysis of alternative plans that would have
                       demonstrated the best approach for addressing the budget shortfall, while
                       minimizing the negative impact on weather service operations.


                       To ensure that weather service users are not adversely affected by a
Recommendation         decision to restructure NWS offices, we recommend that, prior to making
                       any decision to close the southern regional headquarters office, the
                       Secretary of Commerce direct that the Administrator, National Oceanic
                       and Atmospheric Administration, complete a documented analysis of the
                       risks associated with a range of alternative actions to address NWS budget
                       shortfalls. This analysis should also include a set of actions to minimize
                       any risk associated with office restructuring to meet present and future
                       budgetary goals.


                       In commenting on a draft of this report, the Department of Commerce
Agency Comments        stated that it found the report to be factual and reflective of a fair and
and Our Evaluation     objective review process. The Department concurred with our
                       recommendation and reiterated that NWS management used its



                       Page 13                                  GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
B-277460




professional judgment in making the decision to close the southern
regional headquarters office. The Department also stated that the risks
associated with the decision to accelerate the closing of the southern
regional office and its alternatives, while fully reviewed, were not
documented. The Department stated that it will document its analysis of
the risks associated with the planned closing of the southern regional
headquarters office by October 1, 1997. The Department also provided
several comments on the draft report for clarification purposes. We have
incorporated these comments as appropriate in the report.


As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce the contents of
this report earlier, we will not distribute it until 14 days from its date. At
that time, we will send copies of this report to the Chairmen and Ranking
Minority Members of the House Committee on Science; Senate Committee
on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; House and Senate
Committees on Appropriations; House Committee on Government Reform
and Oversight; Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs; and Director,
Office of Management and Budget. We are also sending copies to the
Secretary of Commerce and to the Administrator of the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration. Copies will also be made available to
other parties upon request.

Please contact me at (202) 512-6253, or by e-mail at
willemssenj.aimd@gao.gov, if you have any questions concerning this
report. Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix II.




Joel C. Willemssen
Director, Information Resources Management




Page 14                                  GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
Page 15   GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
Appendix I

Comments From the Department of
Commerce




             Page 16       GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
                Appendix I
                Comments From the Department of
                Commerce




Now on p. 2.




Now on p. 3.




Now on p. 7.



Now on p. 7.




Now on p. 12.



Now on p. 13.




                Page 17                           GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
Appendix I
Comments From the Department of
Commerce




Page 18                           GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
Appendix II

Major Contributors to This Report


                       Helen Lew, Assistant Director
Accounting and         Timothy E. Case, Senior Information Systems Analyst
Information            Tonia L. Johnson, Senior Information Systems Analyst
Management Division,   Michael P. Fruitman, Communications Analyst

Washington, D.C.




(511427)               Page 19                              GAO/AIMD-97-133 National Weather Service
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