NWS Industrial Meteorology

Policy and Guidelines Governing National Weather Service and Private Sector Roles (A-06)

Note: This policy is no longer in effect. For current policy, see: NOAA Policy on Partnerships in the Provision of Environmental Information


2. General Criteria:

2. General Criteria. The policy statement is based on the respective roles of the NWS and the private sector described below:

a. The primary mission of the NWS is the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. Hence, the basic functions of the NWS are the provision of forecasts and warnings of severe weather, flooding, hurricanes, and tsunami events; the collection, exchange, and distribution of meteorological, hydrologic, climatic, and oceanographic data and information; and the preparation of hydrometeorological guidance and core forecast information. The NWS is the single "official" voice when issuing warnings for life-threatening situations and is the source of a common national hydrometeorological information base. The national information base forms an infrastructure on which the private sector can build and grow.

b. The NWS will not compete with the private sector when a service is currently provided or can be provided by commercial enterprises, unless otherwise directed by applicable law.

c. The private weather industry is ideally suited to put the basic data and common hydrometeorological information base from the NWS into a form and detail that can be utilized by specific weather and water resources-sensitive users. The private weather industry provides general and tailored hydrometeorological forecasts, and value-added products and services to segments of the population with specialized needs.

On December 2, 1989, a draft policy statement was published in the Federal Register for comment. The comments reflected some concern on the part of the private weather industry that the policy statement could provide restraints in existing activities. Several comments urged the NWS to more clearly define what the relationship between the public and private weather industry should be. Appendix A to this chapter addresses the significant comments received and the responses to them which will serve to provide additional background on the development of the final policy statement.


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