Thursday, February 14, 2013

GAO adds climate change, weather satellite delays to high-risk list

Sean Reilly in the Federal Times: The federal government is facing significant financial risks posed by climate change and expected gaps in weather satellite data, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The government owns large amounts of property, runs flood and crop insurance programs with millions of policyholders, and regularly pours vast sums of money into emergency aid. But while scientists predict that climate change will lead to more frequent and more destructive natural disasters, the government “is not well positioned to address this fiscal exposure, partly because of the complex, cross-cutting nature of the issue,” GAO said in its latest biennial list of federal programs that are at high risk of waste, fraud, abuse and financial loss.

GAO’s so-called high-risk list, released Thursday, is issued at the start of each new Congress and now features 30 problem areas, most of which have been on the list for many years.

The White House has created a governmentwide task force on climate change adaptation, but “it has no mechanisms for making or enforcing important decisions and priorities,’’ the GAO said.

Weather satellite data gaps are expected because of delays and cost overruns in launching the next generation of polar satellites. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a gap of up to two years after existing spacecraft wear out later this decade...

Boat stranded on the Rockaway subway line after Hurricane Sandy, shot from Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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