generations of meteorologists; and the private sector (weather companies and private meteorologists working in the media) is responsible for creating products and services needed by specialized customer groups and for working with the NWS to communicate forecasts and warnings that may affect public safety. This arrangement has benefited the nation by providing better and more comprehensive weather and climate services than could be provided by any one alone.

On the other hand, although created for different purposes, some of the products and services offered by the different sectors are similar, which creates potential friction and inefficiencies in the weather enterprise. A number of attempts have been made to better differentiate the roles of the sectors, but with limited success (see “History of the NWS-Private Sector Partnership” below). The problem is inherent in the existing system for the following reasons:

  • The activities of the sectors overlap. Each sector relies, to a greater or lesser extent, on shared data collection, modeling and analysis, and information dissemination.

  • The capabilities of the sectors change with advances in technology and declining costs of computing. Many activities that used to require substantial government infrastructure (e.g., some sophisticated modeling) can now be done using desktop computers and the Internet.

  • The usefulness of a product to a particular sector changes. For example, a specialized technology developed by the private sector loses much of its commercial value when it becomes commonplace and is adopted by the other sectors.

  • The products and services offered by the sectors change as new user groups emerge and the needs of existing users evolve. For example, improved scientific understanding and forecasting have permitted new industries to factor in weather and climate projections. Rapidly changing markets and increasingly high expectations of users for speed and convenience decrease the life span of many products and services.

  • All members do not share the same expectations and understanding of the proper roles and responsibilities of the three sectors (Appendix B).

Therefore the question is how to take advantage of all that the different sectors have to offer while minimizing conflict and inefficiency. This can be a difficult question to answer because data on the scale of operations and the actual costs of the three sectors are limited, making it difficult to determine how to optimize the efficiency of the system. Moreover, the characteristics of the weather and climate enterprise appear to be unique, making it difficult to apply lessons learned from other disciplines. For example, the science underlying the weather enterprise is mature, giving rise to increas-

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