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Significant increases for NWS in House Appropriations Bill - $13 million in new funds for staffing

(June 28, 2022) - The House Appropriations Committee will today approve the Fiscal Year 2023 Commerce Appropriations Act, which includes a significant increase in funding for the National Weather Service (NWS). The Committee will recommend that the NWS receive an additional $84.4 million for “operations, research and facilities,” which is a 7.2% increase in funding over what the NWS was appropriated for the current fiscal year, and 3.2% more than was requested by the agency and the Administration. This includes $13 million in new funding for NWS staffing, over and above the “adjustments to base” needed to fund the anticipated 2023 Federal employee pay increase. Here is the Committee’s Report language addressing NWS staffing:

NWS Staffing.—The Committee continues to be concerned about staffing and management challenges within NWS, especially as the organization recovers from pandemic-related attrition and the need to meet the growing demand for real-time high resolution weather data and critical impact-based decision support services (IDSS). NOAA and the Department of Commerce are directed to ensure that NWS fulfills its critical missions by filling all NWS vacancies as expeditiously as possible and to continue to work closely with all stakeholders, including by seeking and incorporating input from employees on the optimum level of staffing going forward.

To that end, the recommendation includes all requested adjustments to base for NWS. In addition, the Committee provides an increase of $13,000,000 above fiscal year 2022 to further address staffing requirements, including $7,500,000 for staffing at weather forecast offices to enhance equitable NWS IDSS and to increase the number of trained and qualified Incident Meteorologists (IMETs) for wildfires and other extreme events; and $5,500,000 to accelerate hiring at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). Within these increases, NWS shall provide IDSS support for products generated by other line offices, as appropriate, such as harmful algal bloom forecasts.

In its fiscal year 2023 spend plan, NWS shall follow direction as provided in fiscal year 2022 regarding details of all NWS funded positions.

The Committee report also addresses the endemic problems with NWS dissemination:

Improving NWS Dissemination Activities.—The Committee continues to be concerned with the issues with NWS’ forecast dissemination systems, but notes that progress has been made in recent months. Disseminating accurate, timely information to broadcasters, emergency managers, and the general public during severe weather events is critical. Tools such as NWSChat are essential for ensuring that communities and businesses in rural farming com- munities and elsewhere have the proper time to respond. The Committee urges NWS to prioritize and continue to find ways to improve information dissemination to rural and other underserved areas. Further, the recommendation fully funds the requested increase to Optimize and Upgrade the Integrated Dissemination Program.

The Committee also recommended substantial increases in operations funding for other NOAA offices and activities whose employees are represented by NWSEO. Funding for the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center would increase 18%, from $34.5 million to $40.8 million. Funding for the NESDIS Office of Satellite and Product Operations would increase by 25%, from $198.4 million to $248.5 million. Funding for NOAA Executive Leadership, which includes the NOAA Office of General Counsel, would increase by 12%, from $28.2 million to $31.7 million.

The Committee provides $40 million to acquire a Phased Array Radar demonstration system, which will help the NWS address the looming need to replace the nation’s legacy NEXRAD weather radar systems between 2030 and 2040.

The bill also includes $205 million to begin the procurement cycle for the new Hurricane Hunter aircraft to replace the WP–3D that are nearing the end of their useful lives. The civilian crews of these aircraft are represented by NWSEO.

The full House is expected to approve these recommended funding levels after it returns from the July 4 recess. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet released its recommended version of the FY 23 Commerce Appropriations Act.

Read more about NWS funding in the Commerce Appropriations Act here.


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