4. Guidelines for Responding to Inquiries. NWS offices need to consider the following factors when determining whether or not responding to a request would violate the policy governing the relationship between the NWS and the private sector weather services.
a. The ready availability of the information required to respond to the request.
b. The resources needed to prepare a response to a user's request.
c. The nature and origin of the request.
These factors are summarized in the following guidelines.
4.1 Requests from Government Agencies and Institutions. To the extent that resources permit, the NWS will honor requests for information, data, and interpretation assistance from government entities. In this instance, government refers to Federal, state, county/parish/township, and municipal government entities. In some instances a field office might refer such requests to other offices or to NOAA (e.g. the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), NESDIS, etc.) for handling.
4.2 Requests from the Public. The NWS will continue to respond to requests from the public on a time and information available basis. This includes providing requesters with interpretive information concerning NWS products. Typically, requesters should be referred first to NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) broadcasts or to public media outlets that disseminate NWS information provided by NOAA Weather Wire Service (NWWS) or the Family of Services (FOS). Should the requester be dissatisfied with this approach, the information should then be supplied as time and availability allow. Requests that require the preparation of specialized forecast products or services should be referred to the private sector. Requests for climatological information should be honored if the information is readily available and a data search is not required (remember to charge appropriate fees for copying, etc.). If data searches are required, the requester should be referred to the NCDC, the Regional Climate Center, or the State Climatologist.
4.3 Requests from Private Industry and Businesses. If the request is for forecasts, data, information, etc., that the NWS prepares in the normal course of operations, the request should be honored on a time-available basis. This includes providing interpretive information concerning NWS products if the requests are nonroutine. To the extent possible, refer requesters to NWR, NWWS, or the FOS. If the request is routine or is for special services, including requests for climatological data that require data searches, whether on a routine or nonroutine basis, the requester should be referred to the private sector or, in the case of climatological data, to NCDC. A simple request for copies of a particular month's worth of local climatological data (LCD) available in that office could be honored at the fixed charge governed by WSOM D-90.
4.4 Requests from the Media. The NWS will support the media to the fullest extent possible given time and resource availability. This support assumes consistency with the NWS policy regarding the phase-out of direct routine support to commercial radio stations and newspapers. NWS will provide interviews regarding ongoing or potential severe weather events and other weather situations that have the potential for becoming life threatening, for causing property damage, or for causing significant disruption of public services or citizens, normal activities. The NWS will also provide full support, on a time and resource available basis, for "human interest" type weather stories that the media generates on a nonroutine basis. NWS employees, whether on official time or off duty, continue to be prohibited from appearing on the electronic media for the purpose of providing routine dissemination of day- to-day weather information.
4.5 Referrals to the Private Sector. The NWS shall not provide free advertising (by referral) for any private meteorologist or related company. A requester needing the services of a private meteorologist (either based on the preceding guidelines or a specific inquiry) should be referred to the telephone directory, the local chapter of the American Meteorological Society, the National Weather Association, or the:
American Meteorological Society
45 Beacon Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02108
Phone (617) 227-2425
If a requester is referred to the offices or chapters of the American Meteorological Society or the National Weather Association, the requester should be informed that these two organizations actively certify those in the profession to provide various private sector services.