10.6 Embracing the New NWS Financial and Organizational Structure: Leading a Multi-Office Damage Path Tool Project to Support a FEMA-Requested Service

Thursday, 14 January 2016: 2:45 PM
Room 255/257 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Joshua W. Scheck, NOAA/NWS, Bismarck, ND; and P. Kirkwood, B. P. Walawender, M. Foster, A. Anderson, D. L. Andra Jr., J. P. Camp, E. Mandel, M. A. Magsig, and J. T. Ferree

Consistent with The National Academy of Public Administration report Forecasting for the Future: Assuring the Capacity of the National Weather Service, NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) restructured, both financially and organizationally on 1 April 2015. The report called for ensuring NWS research to operations and operations to research (R2O2R) were properly supported such that stovepipe innovations were combined into properly funded projects. Two NWS innovations, the NWS Central Region web-based damage path tool and the NWS Norman, Oklahoma Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System II (AWIPS II) local application tornado damage path tool, were combined under the NWS Office of Science and Technology Integration, and then were assimilated into other nationally supported projects and services.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) formally requested that NWS provide preliminary damage paths of major tornadoes within one hour of occurrence beginning 1 April 2015. To meet the need, the web-based tool was modified slightly and used as a stopgap solution, and development team co-leads designed and implemented associated training for Regional Operations Centers to provide the service.

The strengths of both innovations were combined by the development team into one set of software requirements, which then became a formal work assignment for Raytheon programmers. The NWS Office of Central Processing managed Raytheon efforts. The field-based project co-leaders organized: 1) integration with the Damage Assessment Toolkit (a nationally-supported project that is the preferred dissemination tool for emergency management); 2) training development by the Office of the Chief Learning Officer (OCLO) Warning Decision Training Division (WDTD); and 3) FEMA service design by the Office of Analyze, Forecast, and Support (the services group in charge of implementing the FEMA-requested service). This project encompasses the full range of R2O2R scales, from field workers to NWS Headquarters, and across several financial accounts.

A prototype AWIPS II tool was implemented in September 2015, and a fully functional AWIPS II tool will be implemented in January 2016, along with training from the OCLO/WDTD.

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