I've been pondering: how can we save money in the NWS if we are forced to? Not that I want a budget cut or anything and I'd fight hard with what little/no power that I have to at least keep our present level of funding. But if we get a budget cut, how can we save money? Here are some thoughts (feel free to add more).
- Less travel and more virtual conferences. Travel is extremely expensive these days, and although you can't quite get the same networking experience at a virtual conference, it's a huge money saver. The technology is certainly out there to pull it off. I've never played around with "Second Life", but I hear that you can have a conference using it. How cool would that be? And there are many other options. I love to travel, but I think in 5-10 years travel will be somewhat obsolete.
- Related to virtual conferences, improve communication between NWS employees to reduce redundancy. There are many ways to do this, which I won't go into here.
- Utilize cloud-based technologies. In the past, the NWS has generally taken the idea that if it's not ours, it's no good. There are a lot of great innovations going on these days in computing. Let's face the fact that in a lot of areas, we just can't quite keep up. We should actively seek things that others are doing well.
- As far as consolidating forecast offices, not a good idea. Local knowledge is key to forecasting, and this makes it easier to interact with our core partners and the general public.
- Eliminate old, obsolete products or technologies. We have a lot of great services that we would like to add over the next few years, but it's hard to keeping adding without eliminating some things. Better to eliminate products or technologies than people, though.
- Automate the balloon releases. Upper air is automated other places in the world, and although there would be some up-front cost, in the long run it would save money.
- Decrease everyone's salary! (Just kidding.) That would be about the worst thing you could do, as it would kill morale and lead to the end of the NWS. Cutting positions would have a similar effect. There are plenty of things we could do before it comes to that.
- Educate and engage with the public so that they know better what we do. The public pays our salary, and can be a great advocate for the NWS in hard times.