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NWIRP Statutory Program Description

The National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP) was established by Congress “…to achieve major measurable reductions in the losses of life and property from windstorms through a coordinated Federal effort, in cooperation with other levels of government, academia, and the private sector, aimed at improving the understanding of windstorms and their impacts and developing and encouraging the implementation of cost-effective mitigation measures to reduce those impacts.”

With the enactment of PL 114-52 (the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization of 2015) on September 30, 2015, NIST has been designated as the Lead Agency for NWIRP. Other designated Program agencies are the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has also participated in NWIRP from its inception with PL 108-360 in 2004. Other federal agencies are invited to participate in NWIRP activities; among those already involved are the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Department of Energy (DoE). Summaries of past NWIRP activities are available in the Program’s biennial reports to Congress (available at top left). 

As the lead agency, NIST has the primary responsibility for planning and coordinating the Program. This responsibility includes 

  • Ensuring that the Program includes the necessary components to promote the implementation of windstorm risk reduction measures; 
  • Supporting the development of performance-based engineering tools, and working with appropriate groups to promote the commercial application of such tools;
  • Requesting the assistance of Federal agencies other than the Program agencies, as necessary;
  • Coordinating all Federal post-windstorm investigations to the extent practicable; and
  • When warranted by research or investigative findings, issuing recommendations to assist in informing the development of model codes, and providing information to Congress on the use of such recommendations.

Statutory responsibilities for each of the Program agencies are summarized as below:

NSF – support research in (1) engineering and the atmospheric sciences to improve the understanding of the behavior of windstorms and their impact on buildings, structures, and lifelines; and (2) economic and social factors influencing windstorm risk reduction measures. 
NOAA - support atmospheric sciences research to improve the understanding of the behavior of windstorms and their impact on buildings, structures, and lifelines. 
NIST – carry out research and development to improve model building codes, voluntary standards, and best practices for the design, construction, and retrofit of buildings, structures, and lifelines. 
FEMA – (1) support the development of risk assessment tools and effective mitigation techniques; windstorm-related data collection and analysis; public outreach and information dissemination; and promotion of the adoption of windstorm preparedness and mitigation measures, including for households, businesses, and communities; and (2) work closely with national standards and model building code organizations, in conjunction with NIST, to promote the implementation of research results and better building practices within the building design and construction industry, including architects, engineers, contractors, builders, and inspectors.


Created May 3, 2019, Updated November 15, 2019