(December 21, 2022) — The FY23 Omnibus Appropriations bill released overnight will substantially increase appropriations for the National Weather Service (NWS) and NOAA. The bill will add $11,750,000 for NWS staffing and an additional $500,000 specifically for staffing and modernized technology at the tsunami warning centers.
The total amount that will be appropriated for NWS operations is $1,247,393,000, which is an increase of $73 million (or 6.2%) over FY22 appropriations and is an increase of $28 million (or 2.3%) over the amount requested by the Administration. Of that amount, funding for “Analyze, Forecast and Support,” which funds most employee salaries, will be increased by $27.5 million (or 4.9%) over last fiscal year. The bill will also appropriate $13.5 million for construction and major repairs of NWS facilities.
Total funding for NOAA will exceed $6.67 billion, roughly a one-half billion dollar and nearly 10% increase over last fiscal year.
The joint explanatory statement from the House and Senate negotiators that accompanies this legislation contains the following language concerning NWS staffing:
NWS Staffing - The agreement provides an increase of $11,750,000 above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level to address staffing requirements at NWS, including $10,500,000 in Analyze, Forecast, and Support (AFS) for staffing at weather forecast offices to enhance NWS impact- based decision support services (IDSS), to increase the number of trained and qualified Incident Meteorologists (IMETs) for wildfires and other extreme events, and to accelerate hiring at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The remaining $1,250,000 is for NCEP hiring, with $750,000 in Central Processing and $500,000 in Science and Technology Integration (STI). Within all of these increases, NWS is encouraged to provide IDSS support for products generated by other line offices, as appropriate, such as harmful algal bloom forecasts.
The joint explanatory statement also incorporates by reference the report of the House Appropriations Committee, which includes this statement about NWS staffing:
The Committee remains concerned about continuing reports of staffing and management challenges within NWS. NOAA and the Department of Commerce are directed to ensure that NWS fulfills its critical mission to protect the lives and property of our Nation’s citizens, including by filling all vacancies as expeditiously as possible.
The joint explanatory statement also addresses the Tsunami Warning Program:
Tsunami Warning Program - The agreement provides an increase of no less than $500,000 above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level for the Tsunami Warning Program to increase staffing and modernize technology. Within 180 days of the date of enactment of this act, NOAA provide a plan and cost estimates to the Committees to improve operational capacity at its tsunami warning centers, including, at a minimum: upgrades to ensure the compatibility of all computer systems used by both centers, upgrades to ensure the reliability and compatibility of both centers' dissemination infrastructure, and plans for continuity of operations in the event that one of the centers goes offline.
Read more about the Omnibus Appropriations Bill here.