Weather Forecasting:

Recommendations to Address New Weather Processing System Development Risks

AIMD-96-74: Published: May 13, 1996. Publicly Released: May 13, 1996.

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GAO reviewed the National Weather Service's (NWS) Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) and made recommendations to strengthen NWS ability to achieve a fair return on its AWIPS investment.

GAO found that: (1) NWS needs to validate proposed AWIPS capabilities on a mission-impact basis and only implement validated capabilities; (2) NWS needs to tie its decisions on information technology investments to explicit and quantifiable mission improvements or it will lower its return on investment; (3) NWS should not overlap its incremental steps in software development so that problems in a previous module do not adversely affect a later module; and (4) the present $525-million estimate of AWIPS costs is out-of-date, omits certain costs, and is understated.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: NWS should ensure that each system build is fully tested and all material defects are corrected before software development associated with the next build begins.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: NOAA does not agree with the recommendation and does not intend to implement it. NOAA believes that judicious overlapping of software builds is efficient and appropriate in some cases.

    Recommendation: NWS should establish a software quality assurance program to increase the probability of delivering promised AWIPS capability on time and within budget.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: NOAA does not agree with the recommendation and does not intend to implement it. NOAA does not believe that an independent software quality assurance program would be cost-effective.

    Recommendation: NWS should obtain an independent assessment of the cost to develop and deploy AWIPS.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: NOAA does not agree with the recommendation and does not intend to implement it. NOAA does not believe that an independent cost estimate would add value.

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