Statement from Dr. Kathryn Sullivan on NOAA’s fiscal year 2017 budget request

As America’s environmental intelligence agency, NOAA provides timely, reliable, and actionable information — based on sound science — to communities and businesses around the country every day. We’ve seen demand for our products and services increase, as decision makers look for tools to help them better understand risk and prepare for the future. We’re helping people, businesses, communities, and governments make smart decisions that directly impact the future of society, the economy, and the environment.

NOAA FY17 blue book.

NOAA FY17 blue book. (Image credit: NOAA)

Since announcing NOAA’s priorities, the agency has made tremendous strides toward providing the information and services communities need to build resilience, evolving the National Weather Service, investing in our network of observational platforms, and, achieving organizational excellence.  

Providing Information and Services to Make Communities More Resilient 

Communities around the country are struggling with the effects of extreme events like hurricanes, drought, and fisheries collapse. The drought in California — the worst in the state’s history — is a paramount example of the environmental and socio-economic devastation that environmental events can wreak on communities, businesses, and the environment. NOAA’s FY 2017 budget request takes a major step toward helping communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from the damage that weather-, water-, and climate-related events can cause.  

As the only Federal agency charged with water prediction and warning responsibilities, NOAA is uniquely positioned to address water challenges facing the nation. Through targeted investments and an integrated approach to these challenges, NOAA will develop and deliver new and improved products that put critical water forecast information into the hands of local decision makers and the public, including integrated river and stream forecasts for more than 100 million Americans who don’t currently receive this information.

The budget request also includes funding for grants to communities to enable them to implement resilience strategies, increased capacity to speed the completion of environmental consultations and remove obstacles to sustainable development, and investments in the baseline scientific research and observations needed to improve understanding and use of ocean and coastal resources and development of coastal infrastructure, all of which will be coordinated efficiently with the efforts of our Federal and state partners. These investments will support our efforts to build resilient communities, economies, businesses, and ecologies.

Evolving NOAA’s National Weather Service 

NOAA has made considerable progress in evolving the National Weather Service over the past few years. From technical to organizational changes, including supercomputing upgrades and more efficient budget and administrative structures, we have made positive changes internally and externally. The proposed FY 2017 budget continues these efforts and aims to strengthen the products and services that promote public safety and protect livelihoods. The requested budget enables NOAA to extend the life of the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) infrastructure, which underpins forecast and warning services for severe high-impact weather events, such as tornadoes and thunderstorms. In addition, the budget invests in extending the life of the Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS), the nation's primary surface weather observing system. These upgrades, along with continued integration of NOAA dissemination systems, and expansion of our water prediction capabilities, are vital to ensuring that the NWS becomes second to none and we build a Weather-Ready Nation.

Investing in Observational Infrastructure 

NOAA’s observing systems are the foundation of the environmental intelligence we provide. The successful launches of DSCOVR and Jason-3 satellites, and the upcoming launch of GOES-R are major milestones to assuring the continuity of our critical space-based data streams. Ongoing investments in radars, supercomputers, buoys, and other platforms are also critical to sustaining the nation’s security against natural hazards, protecting our environment, and providing the information communities and businesses rely upon. The requested FY 2017 budget supports the Polar Follow On (PFO), a program that is vital to ensure the continuity of polar satellite observing systems, which provide the primary data inputs for NOAA’s numerical weather prediction models.  

NOAA’s fleet of research vessels are aging, with half slated to retire within the next decade, including five Regional Class Survey Vessels (RSVs) that are essential to NOAA’s fisheries and coastal missions. To prevent this significant erosion of mission capability, this budget invests in development of a new RSV to support fishery surveys, habitat and hydrographic surveys, and disaster response. The long timelines involved in shipbuilding make it imperative to invest in RSV replacement now, in order to avert a decline in stock assessment capacity that would result in more conservative fishery management decisions and lost fishing opportunities.

Achieving Organizational Excellence 

NOAA’s employees are the lifeblood of the agency. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the dedicated men and women of this agency strive to provide excellent science and service to every community in the United States. As public servants, we fully embrace the mantra of “Mission First, People Always.” At NOAA, we work hard to uphold a workplace that is welcoming, safe, and professionally challenging. In November 2015, I issued a diversity and inclusion policy statement to articulate how each and every member of our team can contribute toward building a workplace that enhances our people-based skills in concert with the skills we need as a science-based services agency.

Meeting NOAA’s mission requires that our dedicated employees have safe and efficient workplaces and up-to-date equipment, technology, and tools that are equal to their mandated tasks. This budget makes targeted investments to remedy critical facility and IT deficiencies that put mission success at risk. Additionally, it proposes to fund a new program designed to accelerate the transition of promising NOAA research into operations and applications — ensuring that the public reaps the benefit of Federal investments in research and development.


In closing, NOAA’s FY 2017 budget supports our unique role within the Federal government. The requested funding is critical as the agency positions itself to meet the growing demand from communities and businesses to help them prepare for, respond to, and overcome vulnerabilities and risk.

Dr. Kathryn Sullivan
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere 
and NOAA Administrator


NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and our other social media channels.


Ciaran Clayton