Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the joint acquisition of the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) by the National Weather Service (NWS), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Air Force, focusing on: (1) changes in acquisition and deployment plans; (2) the feasibility and cost of purchasing additional radars; (3) the Air Force contribution to the national NEXRAD network; and (4) the availability of Air Force and NWS NEXRAD.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Commerce||1. The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Assistant Administrator for Weather Services to not purchase additional radars to address any weaknesses in radar coverage that may result from the NRC study until assessing FAA plans for deploying the five radars scheduled for storage and NWS mission requirements for NEXRAD in these areas.|
|Department of Commerce||2. The Secretary of Commerce should direct the NOAA Assistant Administrator for Weather Services to ensure that any radars bought in response to NRC national radar coverage findings are cost-beneficial, given that their unit cost could be substantially higher than those already purchased.|
|Department of the Air Force||3. The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Air Force Director of Weather to improve the reliability of the Air Force NEXRAD availability data and to correct any shortfalls that these data show.|
|Department of Commerce||4. The Secretary of Commerce should direct the NOAA Assistant Administrator for Weather Services to begin analyzing and monitoring system availability data on a site-specific basis for its operational NEXRAD and correct any shortfalls in system availability that this analysis shows.|