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