The Unified Forecast System (UFS) is by necessity broad in scope, technically involved, and engages many scientists, software engineers, and other people. Community-level governance is necessary for the UFS enterprise to function efficiently and to bridge across a wide range of diverse contributors and collaborators. At the same time, in as much as the major goal of the UFS is to improve the operational numerical forecast guidance provided by NOAA, it follows that there is also a certain level of governance effort required within NOAA. These two components of governance are formally chartered and are carefully coordinated.

The UFS is designed to capitalize on the efforts, expertise, and scientific capacity developed through federal/multi-agency investments in research and development of Earth system simulation and prediction. It involves a community of primarily federal (including federally funded research and development centers and federal contractors) and academic experts who span the range of capabilities needed to support the end-to-end functionality of the NCEP Production Suite.

UFS governance functions at the interface of NCEP, NOAA laboratories and programs, and the broader research and development community with the goal of providing end-to-end modeling capacity bridging research and operations. Hence, what is being governed is a community-based, unified, coupled modeling system (the UFS) suitable for application in NCEP’s Production Suite.

Community Governance

Community governance of the UFS is primarily accomplished through the UFS Steering Committee (UFS-SC) and a Technical Oversight Board. The UFS-SC aims to create circumstances in which a pipeline of needed capabilities from the research community reaches suitable levels of readiness to be considered for transition to operations. It is supported by twelve technical Working Groups (see Related Information box of this page), which are comprised of subject matter experts from key areas. Among other things, the Working Groups annually update a Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP).

The UFS SC is charged by and reports to a Technical Oversight Board. Membership of the Technical Oversight Board consists of representatives from partner organizations who contribute materially to UFS efforts, thus affording each organization a voice in UFS direction and outcomes. The Technical Oversight Board advises NOAA Program Office leadership of the potential for improving UFS capabilities based on community or partner technology contributions. It can approve or validate, from a technical perspective, UFS strategic direction or plans recommended by the UFS-SC, to include making recommendations for resourcing actions across multiple organizations. However, it should be noted that final execution and resource allocation decision authority remains with the responsible lab/center directors and Program Managers in accordance with organizational missions and legislative mandates.

The roles of the UFS-SC and Technical Oversight Board are detailed in their respective charters, which are in the final stages of approval. Additional background information can be found in the SIP Governance Plan.

Program Governance

The UFS grew out of efforts in the National Weather Service (NWS) Office of Science and Technology Integration (OSTI) Modeling Program Office to build the Next Generation Global Prediction System (known to insiders as the NGGPS). The NWS coordinates closely with the NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) Office of Weather and Air Quality/Weather Forecasting (WPO/WX). This forms the evolving basis of governance within NOAA.

This flow diagram describes the relationships between and decision process among the UFS Technical Oversight Board (TOB), the UFS Steering Committee (UFS-SC), and Program Managers who support and guide their respective organization’s efforts.