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  Home > Partnership Policy Preamble


The comment period for input on the policy, below, closed on June 30, 2004.

A listing of comments received is now available

Final policy issued December 1, 2004

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service

Proposed Policy on Partnerships in the Provision of Weather, Water, Climate and Related Environmental Information

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) proposes to adopt a policy regarding the information activities of the National Weather Service (NWS). This new proposed policy is intended to strengthen the existing partnership between government, academia and the private sector which provides the nation with high quality weather, water, climate and related environmental information.

The proposed policy responds to recommendations contained in the National Research Council's (NRC) study, "Fair Weather: Effective Partnerships in Weather and Climate Services," (National Academy Press, 2003). The NRC study identified the need for a policy that would recognize advances in technology and the enactment of relevant laws and policies, particularly the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996, 44 USC Part 45, and OMB Circular No. A-130, "Management of Federal Information Resources," 61 FR 6428 (February 20, 1996), which occurred subsequent to the previous NWS partnership policy issued in 1991.


The NRC study examined the respective roles of the government, academic and private sectors, and provided recommendations regarding how the partnership can effectively move forward in an era of rapid advances in science and technology.

NOAA's National Weather Service provides information to support protecting life and property and enhancing the national economy. To carry out its mission, it develops and maintains an infrastructure of observing, data processing, prediction and communication systems on which the public (federal, state, and local government agencies), private, and academic sectors rely.

Academia advances the science and educates future generations of meteorologists and specialists in related fields.

The private sector (weather companies, meteorologists working for private companies or as private consultants, and broadcast meteorologists) creates products and services tailored to the needs of their company or clients and works with the NWS to communicate forecasts and warnings affecting public safety.

The NRC study found this three-sector system has led to an extensive and flourishing set of weather services that are of great benefit to the U.S. public and to major sections of the U.S. economy. It also found some level of tension is an inevitable but acceptable price to pay for the excellent array of weather and climate products and services our nation enjoys, but the frictions and inefficiencies of the existing system can probably be reduced, permitting the three sectors to live in greater harmony.

The NRC study recognized advances in science and technology are driving the evolution of the weather and climate enterprise, and the rapid changes in science and technology underlying weather and climate forecasting are likely to continue. Therefore, the study's primary conclusion was

it is counterproductive and diversionary to establish detailed and rigid boundaries for each sector outlining who can do what and with which tools. Instead, efforts should focus on improving the processes by which the public and private providers of weather services interact. Improving these processes would also help alleviate the misunderstanding and suspicion that exists between some members of the sectors." [Emphasis in original]

With this as background, the NRC's first recommendation was:

Recommendation 1. The NWS should replace its 1991 public-private partnership policy with a policy that defines processes for making decisions on products, technologies, and services, rather than rigidly defining the roles of the NWS and the private sector.

The NRC also suggested NOAA consider extending such a policy to include similar information activities of NOAA's National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service (NESDIS) and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR).

Accordingly, NOAA proposes the following policy directed to the information activities of the National Weather Service in the area of weather, water, climate and related environmental information services.


NOAA seeks comments on the proposed policy including whether it is suitable for the activities of the National Weather Service in the area of weather, water, climate and related environmental information services; whether the scope of the proposed policy should be expanded to include similar activities of NESDIS, OAR, and the National Ocean Service; and whether adoption of the same or similar principles for other NOAA programs would be appropriate.

Comments will be accepted through June 30, 2004.

Electronic submission of comments is encouraged. Please submit comments to

Written comments should be addressed to:

Fair Weather
Strategic Planning and Policy Office
NOAA National Weather Service
1325 East-West Highway, Room 11404
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3283

Comments may also be faxed to: 301/713-1239

For further information contact: Peter Weiss, 301/713-0258 ext. 142



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     Page last Modified: 6 January, 2004 10:03 AM