On Thursday, we reported that, due to insufficient labor funds in the budget of National Weather Service (NWS), NOAA released a fact sheet stating NWS employees could be furloughed for 13 days this fiscal year. That is, unless Congress and NOAA reach an agreement to reprogam funds from some other place to cover the shortfall.
Scott Smullen, spokesman for NOAA, issued a statement today, offering more details on its reprogamming proposal, emphasizing its commitment to avoiding furloughs:
The Administration submitted this reprogramming specifically to avoid any risk to weather services and we are working to protect this critical service. The fact sheet is not a formal trigger of the furlough process. It merely describes the situation and potential impacts if the reprogramming was not submitted to Congress.
Out of an abundance of transparency, we shared the document with the union. NOAA is committed to doing everything within its authority to avoid furloughs, and our focus will remain on maintaining the critical operations and services we need to successfully perform our mission.
Congress has shown great leadership in their historical and ongoing support for the National Weather Service and we will continue to work with them and answer any and all questions about how to move forward together
The NWS union - the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) - is optimistic this labor funding problem can be overcome.
“What is happening now is not a crisis,” said Richard Hirn, general counsel for the NWSEO. “Reprogrammings happen all the time. Things always work themselves out, and I am confident that this one will as well.”