In the wake of the economic crunch, President Obama is proposing to cut funding to the National Weather Service by $39 million in 2013’s fiscal year. Under his proposed plan funding would be cut from $911 million down to $872 million. This budget cut will result in an estimated loss of an estimated 96 jobs nationwide.
Due to this proposal, NOAA is consolidating their information technology officers. Instead of having one IT officer at every one of the 122 NWS offices across the nation, they are proposing to have one IT officer per region. NOAA does not believe that this change will have a significant impact on their mission to protect life and property.
Outsourcing IT personnel could have a dire impact on operations at the National Weather Service, according to Dan Sobien, the president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization.
“NOAA’s response of IT infrastructure investment is laughable. We are an iPhone agency with an etch-a-sketch infrastructure. Download speeds at most weather forecast offices are no faster than they were a decade ago,” said Sobien. “In many offices, you have more available bandwidth on your cell phone than the office has.”
He said eliminating the most technically advanced positions could have deadly consequences. Without them, Sobien believes it will be more difficult to provide accurate forecasts, storm warnings and keep web pages up to date.
A petition is available through whitehouse.gov requesting President Obama to reconsider the NWS budget cuts.