Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 10, 2016

Mikulski Concerned by National Weather Service IT Failure

National Weather Service Mikulski Information Technology budget

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Thursday’s National Weather Service computer outage has the attention of the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Parts of Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski’s home state of Maryland were not notified of a severe thunderstorm warning Thursday afternoon, due to a failure on the part of the weather service’s computer system that sends out the warnings, the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang explained.

As both the chairwoman of the full Appropriations panel and the subcommittee on Commerce-Justice-Science that funds the National Weather Service, Mikulski has long been one of the advocates for investing in forecasting technology.

“The men and women working at our National Weather Service are our eyes and ears to severe weather. Sending their warning out to the public in a timely manner is an important part of their job,” Mikulski said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “Clearly, upgrades to the Weather Service IT systems can’t happen soon enough. We owe it to our communities to have a weather service that is ready for duty providing reliable warnings now.”

Mikulski also highlighted the effects of automatic budget cuts on the National Weather Service.

“Last year I used the Weather Service as one example of how sequester’s blind budget cuts could hurt our Federal operations. Hearing this news, I am concerned that just as I am fighting to get the Weather Service’s budget back on track, the next round of sequester is still a threat, looming on the horizon like an approaching thunderhead,” Mikulski added.

The Appropriations Committee is set to take up the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill for fiscal 2015 when the Senate returns from the Memorial Day recess, with a full committee markup expected on June 5.

The National Weather Service itself is headquartered in Mikulski’s state, in Silver Spring.

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