[Senate Report 116-253]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

                                                      Calendar No. 514
116th Congress     }                                    {       Report
 2d Session        }                                    {      116-253



       ACT OF 2019


                              R E P O R T

                                 of the



                                S. 2597


                August 12, 2020.--Ordered to be printed 
99-010                   WASHINGTON : 2020

                     one hundred sixteenth congress
                             second session

                 ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi, Chairman
JOHN THUNE, South Dakota             MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
ROY BLUNT, Missouri                  AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
TED CRUZ, Texas                      RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
DEB FISCHER, Nebraska                BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii
JERRY MORAN, Kansas                  EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
DAN SULLIVAN, Alaska                 TOM UDALL, New Mexico
CORY GARDNER, Colorado               GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
MARSHA BLACKBURN, Tennessee          TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
MIKE LEE, Utah                       JON TESTER, Montana
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin               KYRSTEN SINEMA, Arizona
TODD C. YOUNG, Indiana               JACKY ROSEN, Nevada
                       John Keast, Staff Director
               David Strickland, Minority Staff Director

                                                      Calendar No. 514
116th Congress     }                                    {       Report
 2d Session        }                                    {      116-253




                August 12, 2020.--Ordered to be printed


       Mr. Wicker, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 2597]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 2597) to require the National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make certain 
operational models available to the public, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon 
with an amendment and recommends that the bill (as amended) do 

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of S. 2597, the Learning Excellence and Good 
Examples from New Developers Act of 2019 (LEGEND Act), is to 
build upon the efforts of previous legislation by making 
additional operational models available to relevant 
stakeholders and to utilize any resulting innovations to 
improve forecasting models. Through collaboration with 
scientists and engineers at private companies and in academia, 
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has 
an opportunity to greatly advance its forecasting skill and 
improve the livelihoods of those who depend on forecasting 

                          Background and Needs

    The National Weather Service (NWS) leads NOAA's operational 
weather forecasting efforts through its mission to provide 
weather, water, and climate data, forecasts, and warnings to 
protect life and property and enhance the Nation's economy.\1\ 
Enhancing forecasting accuracy not only helps protect life, but 
also property from severe weather conditions. The economic cost 
of weather- and climate-related disasters has an enormous 
negative toll on American communities, and the most costly 
disasters are becoming more frequent.\2\ From the agricultural 
impacts to infrastructure damage, businesses and families face 
substantial financial gain or loss depending on annual weather 
trends and longer term climate trends. Experts estimate that 
between 3 and 6 percent of the annual variability in U.S. GDP 
is attributed to weather.\3\
    \1\National Weather Service, ``National Weather Service Mission 
Statement'', 2016 (https://www.nws.noaa.gov/mission.php) (accessed Mar. 
2, 2020).
    \2\National Centers for Environmental Information, ``Billion-Dollar 
Weather and Climate Disasters: Overview'', 2019 (https://
www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/). See also, Adam B. Smith, ``2018's Billion 
Dollar Disaster in Context'', 2019 (https://www.climate.gov/news-
(accessed Mar. 2, 2020).
    \3\National Weather Service, National Weather Service Enterprise 
Analysis Report, Jun. 8, 2017, p. 7 (https://www.weather.gov/media/
Report_June%202017.pdf) (accessed Mar. 2, 2020).
    Congress has long supported Federal efforts to provide 
accurate forecasts to strengthen the national economy and 
provide strong decision-making support to farmers, ranchers, 
water managers, and small businesses. To move closer to this 
goal, several laws have been enacted over the last few years 
focused on building stronger partnerships between government 
agencies and the private sector to improve the weather 
forecasting skill of the United States.
    On April 18, 2017, the Weather Research and Forecasting 
Innovation Act of 2017 (the Weather Act) was signed into law to 
improve NOAA's weather forecasting skill through investment in 
observational, computing, and modeling capabilities.\4\ The 
bill included a requirement for NOAA's Office of Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Research to carry out a Weather Research and 
Forecasting Innovation program, including a technology transfer 
initiative in coordination with NWS, the academic sector, and 
private weather companies. Additionally, the bill further 
allowed for the Secretary of Commerce, and by extension, NOAA, 
to contract with commercial providers to purchase weather data 
or to place weather satellite instruments on cohosted payloads.
    \4\Pub. L. 115-25.
    On January 7, 2019, the National Integrated Drought 
Information System (NIDIS) Reauthorization Act of 2018 was 
signed into law to reauthorize the NIDIS program through 
2023.\5\ The bill amended the Weather Research and Forecasting 
Innovation Program authorized in 2017 to include authorization 
for the Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC). EPIC is 
intended to advance weather modeling and improve the 
translation of forecasting research into operational models by 
leveraging private sector innovations, increasing collaboration 
between governmental and non-governmental scientists and 
engineers, strengthening and leveraging internal NOAA 
resources, and creating a community based global research 
modeling system.
    \5\Pub. L. 115-256.
    This system is to be usable on public computers and 
networks outside of NOAA, and hosted by a cost-effective 
technology like cloud computing. These changes will make the 
current operational models more nimble and effective, and have 
the potential to greatly advance NOAA's forecasting skill.
    The LEGEND Act intends to clarify and strengthen these 
efforts by requiring that operational weather models be made 
available to the public, while including permissive authority 
for NOAA to make experimental models available. The LEGEND Act 
also specifically allows the Administrator to withhold from 
publication any models or data necessary to protect national 
security interests.

                         Summary of Provisions

    S. 2597, the Learning Excellence and Good Examples from New 
Developers Act of 2019, would do the following:
   Make certain operational models publicly available;
   Require a review of models and leverage private 
        sector innovations; and
   Require NOAA to report to Congress on the 
        implementation of LEGEND's mandates.

                          Legislative History

    S. 2597 was introduced on October 15, 2019, by Senator 
Thune (for himself and Senator Schatz) and was referred to the 
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the 
Senate. On November 13, 2019, the Committee met in open 
Executive Session and, by voice vote, ordered S. 2597 to be 
reported favorably with an amendment.

                            Estimated Costs

    In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 

    S. 2597 would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA) to publish its weather-forecasting models 
and associated government-owned data in an open-source format. 
The bill would require NOAA to periodically review any 
improvements made to those open-source models by people outside 
the government and update its models accordingly. The bill also 
would require NOAA to report to the Congress on the 
implementation of S. 2597 within one year of enactment.
    Under current law, NOAA provides public access to some of 
its operational and research models. The agency would need 
additional resources to provide permanent archive and open-
source access to all such models, which currently use many 
petabytes of data (a petabyte is one million gigabytes).
    CBO assumes the bill will be enacted in fiscal year 2020. 
The bill would require NOAA to implement the requirements over 
the 2021-2026 period.
    Using information from NOAA about the many models and 
related data that would be made public under the bill and on 
the cost to convert those data into an open-source format, CBO 
estimates that implementing S. 2597 would cost $135 million 
over the 2020-2025 period. NOAA's costs would total nearly $30 
million a year, on average, for 45 additional employees and 
additional equipment and services. Such spending would be 
subject to appropriation of the necessary amounts.
    The costs of the legislation, detailed in Table 1, fall 
within budget function 300 (natural resources and environment).

                                                                    By fiscal year, millions of dollars--
                                                              2020   2021   2022   2023   2024   2025  2020-2024
Estimated Authorization....................................      0     20     35     35     30     30       150
Estimated Outlays..........................................      0     10     25     35     35     30       135

    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Robert Reese. 
The estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Director of Budget Analysis.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

    In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

                       number of persons covered

    S. 2597 as reported does not create any new programs or 
impose any new regulatory requirements, and therefore will not 
subject any individuals or businesses to new regulations.

                            economic impact

    S. 2597 is not expected to have a negative impact on the 
Nation's economy.


    The reported bill would have no impact on the personal 
privacy of individuals.


    S. 2597 would require a report on implementation from NOAA.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

    In compliance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides that no 
provisions contained in the bill, as reported, meet the 
definition of congressionally directed spending items under the 

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

Section 1. Short title.

    This section would provide that the bill may be cited as 
the ``Learning Excellence and Good Examples from New Developers 
Act of 2019''.

Section 2. Definitions.

    This section would establish definitions for the subsequent 
terms: ``Administration'', ``Administrator'', ``model'', 
``operational model'', and ``open source code''.

Section 3. Purposes.

    This section would determine the purposes of this Act are 
to support modeling innovation by providing interested 
stakeholders access to the models and data used by NOAA and 
encourage NOAA to resulting innovation as appropriate.

Section 4. Requirement to make certain operational models available to 
        the public.

    This section would require NOAA to make any current and 
future operational models developed by the Administration open 
source for use by the relevant stakeholders. It would also 
allow the agency to determine which, if any, experimental 
models should be made available to the public as open source 
    This section would also allow the Administrator to 
determine use of government servers or private vendor contracts 
in carrying out efforts to release modeling source code.
    This section also would require a phased implementation of 
the purpose of the bill. For operational models, this section 
would require an immediate implementation. For new models that 
are created or substantially updated following the enactment of 
this bill, the Administrator would have up to 1 year to make 
the source code available.

Section 5. Requirement to review models and leverage innovations.

    This section would require the Earth Prediction Innovation 
Center (EPIC) to periodically review the private sector's 
innovations and improvements to the operational models, and 
develop and implement a plan to use these improvements.

Section 6. Report on implementation.

    This section would require NOAA to submit a report on the 
implementation of this bill to the Senate Committee on 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the Senate Committee on 
Appropriations, the House Committee on Science, Space, and 
Technology, and the House Committee on Appropriations.

Section 7. Protection of national security interests.

    This section would give the Administrator the authority to 
withhold data or models used in operational weather forecasting 
if the Administrator determines it necessary to protect 
national security interests.

Section 8. Funding.

    This section would require NOAA to carry out the Act using 
amounts available to the Administrator for fiscal years 2021 
through 2026.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
material is printed in italic, existing law in which no change 
is proposed is shown in roman):


           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

                          [15 U.S.C. 8512(b)]


  (a) * * *
  (b) Program Elements.--The program described in subsection 
(a) shall focus on the following activities:
          (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

          (4) A technology transfer initiative, carried out 
        jointly and in coordination with the Director of the 
        National Weather Service, and in cooperation with the 
        United States weather industry and academic partners, 
        to ensure continuous development and transition of the 
        latest scientific and technological advances into 
        operations of the National Weather Service and to 
        establish a process to sunset outdated and expensive 
        operational methods and tools to enable cost-effective 
        transfer of new methods and tools into operations.
          [(4)] (5) Advancing weather modeling skill, 
        reclaiming and maintaining international leadership in 
        the area of numerical weather prediction, and improving 
        the transition of research into operations by--

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *