NOAA 2007-047
Contact: Anson Franklin
NOAA News Releases 2007
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Office of Communications


NOAA announced today that it is implementing a comprehensive action plan to address recommendations from an independent assessment team that reviewed operations at the Tropical Prediction Center.

The team, which was led by Dr. James M. Turner, deputy director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, conducted its assessment in late June and early July and on July 13 submitted its recommendations to Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., USN (ret.), under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

“Dr. Turner’s team identified several issues that should be addressed at the Tropical Predication Center, as well as at more senior levels at NOAA, and provided some excellent recommendations,” Lautenbacher said. Lautenbacher directed Brig. Gen. John J. Kelly, Jr., USAF (ret.), deputy under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, to review the findings and recommendations of the assessment team and develop a response.

“As we’ve seen again this season, the professionals at the Tropical Prediction Center are highly skilled in providing Americans the information they need to prepare for tropical weather,” Lautenbacher said. “This process has quickly and efficiently identified actions that can help them carry out their life-saving mission. We are acting on all of the recommendations of Dr. Turner and his team and now have a plan in place to respond to these recommendations as soon as practicable.”

As a result of the Kelly review, NOAA has developed an action plan to implement nine of the 11 recommendations as offered by the assessment team. A tenth recommendation is being accepted in modified form (see fact sheet below). An eleventh recommendation involves personnel matters and is being handled separately. Lautenbacher has directed Jack Hayes, NOAA assistant administrator for weather services and director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, to implement the action plan, which focuses on management and organizational priorities, scientific advancement and communications. Several activities contained in the action plan are already underway. Completion of all actions is expected by the end of the 2008 fiscal year.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather- and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Editor’s Note: A summary of NOAA’s action plan is attached. A redacted copy of Gen. Kelly’s response to the assessment team’s recommendations is available at


NOAA Action Plan Summary

Response to Recommendations from the Tropical Prediction Center Assessment Team

The following summarizes key NOAA actions being undertaken in response to recommendations of an independent assessment of the Tropical Prediction Center in July 2007. Completion of all actions is expected by the end of the 2008 fiscal year.

For more detailed information, see:

Assessment Team
1. Personnel-related; addressed separately.    
2. “Morale problems and divisions among the staff must be addressed as a high priority for the good of the center and to ensure that the organization can perform its mission.”
NOAA will secure the services of an organization development consultant familiar with NOAA to collect and understand organizational issues. The consultant will formulate and implement an action plan for addressing weaknesses, accentuating strengths and promoting team-building.
3. “NCEP, NWS, and NOAA should increase their focus on the critical technical needs in hurricane forecasting, including improved ocean surface vector wind data, intensity understanding and forecasting, and modeling.”
NOAA is already engaged in activities aimed at addressing these issues.

The new Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project Team is developing a unified, integrated approach to accelerate hurricane forecast improvements in one- to five-day forecasts, encompassing research, operations and outreach in areas such as observations, modeling and associated supercomputing, research-to-operations transition, product design and development, and education and outreach.

NOAA will develop a recommendation for an Ocean Surface Vector Winds (OSVW) Satellite replacement based on an upcoming Jet Propulsion Laboratory report and updated studies on the impact of OSVW on models.

4. “NOAA leadership at all levels must require the highest level of conduct and performance from its employees and its managers. Supervisors must know that they will be supported in the management of their operations and held accountable for failure to manage effectively.”
NOAA has identified the need for an effective management and leadership development strategy as one of its top five human capital challenges.

While this strategy is being developed for senior leadership, NOAA will take advantage of existing programs, such as conducting “providing employee performance feedback” and “setting performance expectations” workshops for TPC supervisors and other components of the organization.

NOAA will assess the developmental needs of TPC supervisors and other organizational components.

5. “Make the following organizational changes: create a Hurricane Forecast Branch chief (separate and distinct from the center deputy director); make the three branches (hurricane, tropical analysis forecast, and technical support) direct reports to the same TPC supervisor; consider moving the Science Operations Officer (SOO) and storm surge activities into a separate unit reporting to the office of the director.”

The action to assign a team lead for the Hurricane Forecast Branch has already been completed.

NOAA will develop a reorganization plan for TPC based on input from the organizational development consultant.

6. “Establish clear, written statements of authority for decision making throughout the management chain of TPC – and communicate them to all employees.” Accept NOAA will develop and distribute a written statement of authority for decision-making.
7. “Develop the methods and means to ensure that the products and services provided by the TPC are meeting the needs of users. Establish a user group to provide regular input on the TPC’s priorities and proposed new or revised products.”
Accept with modification
NOAA will strengthen procedures to meet user needs by leveraging on-going activities rather than establish a new group. NOAA will develop and implement a process to collect user requirements identified in various annual conferences and workshops. NOAA will use these requirements in annual NOAA planning processes. NOAA will apply the process to all NCEP centers in addition to TPC.
8. “TPC should develop a vision for the future, clearly identifying its priorities and how it plans to get there.”
NOAA will develop a strategic vision and multi-year implementation plan not only for the TPC but also for each NCEP service area and mission support area using cross-center teams. NOAA will engage staff and draw on customers needs as described in recommendation 7.
9. “Institute formal succession planning and leadership programs for developing staff from within.”
NOAA will adopt the NOAA Leadership Development and Management strategy in FY08, which promotes leadership and management skills to help managers and staff succeed in executing their mission. In the meantime, NOAA will develop a “pilot” succession planning process for key NWS positions. Once a succession program is successfully institutionalized, it will be expanded to encompass more NWS supervisory, managerial and executive positions.

The TPC will develop individual development plans for each TPC employee and supervisor.

10. “NWS/NCEP needs to foster an environment in which its centers, including the TPC, feel they are part of the process and part of one organization.”
NOAA will revitalize existing processes to reinforce NCEP mission and operations. NOAA will educate TPC employees on their contributions to and dependencies on other NOAA components. This will be shared with other components of NCEP.
11. “NOAA must communicate aggressively, in plain language, key facts and rebut erroneous information about its hurricane program to stakeholders and to the public.”
NOAA is implementing a NOAA Hurricane Program Communication Plan, which is a series of fact sheets, podcasts, and editorial board meetings designed to inform the media and public about the importance of the hurricane research program and the TPC forecasts that help save lives and property.