CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, February 10, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 2431, the National Integrated Drought Information Systems Reauthorization Act of 2013,under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on June 19, 2013 by Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) and referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote.
H.R. 2431 reauthorizes the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Program through FY2018. In addition, H.R. 2431 amends section 3 of the National Integrated Drought Information System Act of 2006 to specify that the purpose of the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) shall be to “better inform and provide for more timely decision-making to reduce drought related impacts and costs.” The bill revises NIDIS functions to require NIDIS to, among other things: 1) provide certain information, forecasts, and assessments described in the Act on both national and regional levels; 2) build upon existing forecasting and assessment programs and partnerships through designation of one or more cooperative institutes to assist with NIDIS functions; and 3) continue ongoing research and monitoring activities related to drought.
Moreover, this legislation directs the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere to, within 18 months after the date of the bill’s enactment, submit a report to Congress that contains: 1) an analysis of the implementation of the NIDIS program, including how the information, forecasts, and assessments are utilized in drought policy planning and response activities; 2) specific plans for continued development of such a program, including future milestones; and 3) an identification of research, monitoring, and forecasting needs to enhance the predictive capability of drought early warnings.
In 1998, Congress passed the National Drought Policy Act, which authorized the National Drought Policy Commission. The Commission was developed in order to “provide advice and recommendations on the creation of an integrated, coordinated Federal policy designed to prepare for, and respond to, serious drought emergencies.” From this legislation, the Commission submitted a report, which called for “improved collaboration” to improve monitoring, prediction, and information sharing. In 2006, the Congress passed the National Integrated Drought Information System Act, which established the NIDIS program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The program’s primary function is to provide an effective early warning system for droughts by coordinating and integrating federal research. NIDIS was responsible for the establishment of the U.S. Drought portal, a website that publishes data from observations—including early warnings about emerging and potential droughts—and provides decision support services for those managing droughts.
 Hearing Charter, Reauthorization of the National Integrated Drought Information System, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (Oct., 2013), p. 3.
 Id. at 3.
 Id. at 4.
CBO estimates that this legislation would cost $60 million over the 2014-2018 period, and $8 million after 2018, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. This legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues.
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.