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.