Home > GAO-11-800 > Recommendations

Climate Monitoring:
NOAA Can Improve Management of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network

GAO-11-800, Published: Aug 31, 2011. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 2011.

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Recommendation: To improve the National Weather Service's (NWS) ability to manage the USHCN in accordance with performance management guidelines and federal internal control standards, as well as to strengthen congressional and public confidence in the data the network provides, the Acting Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of NOAA to enhance NWS's information system to centrally capture information that would be useful in managing stations in the USHCN, including (1) more complete data on siting conditions (including when siting conditions change), which would allow the agency to assess the extent to which the stations meet its siting standards, and (2) existing data on when station records were last updated to monitor whether the records are being updated at least once every 5 years as NWS requires.
  2. Agency Affected: Department of Commerce
  3. Status: Closed - Implemented
  4. Comments: In 2016, NWS implemented a new system, the Station Information System, for maintaining information on weather-monitoring stations, including USHCN stations. The system captures more complete data on siting conditions, and it includes fields for the the date of updates to station records.

  1. Recommendation: To improve the National Weather Service's (NWS) ability to manage the USHCN in accordance with performance management guidelines and federal internal control standards, as well as to strengthen congressional and public confidence in the data the network provides, the Acting Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of NOAA to develop an NWS agencywide policy, in consultation with the National Climatic Data Center, on the actions weather forecast offices should take to address stations that do not meet siting standards.
  2. Agency Affected: Department of Commerce
  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented
  4. Comments: NWS issued a revised policy for stations in July 2017. The revisions included new direction to weather forecast offices regarding steps to take to maintain proper stations. However, the revised policy did not clarify under what circumstances stations that do not meet siting standards should be closed, relocated, or maintained in their present condition.