3
Public, Private, and Academic Partnerships

The overlapping roles of the government, academic, and private sectors in providing weather and climate services have led to both cooperation and conflict. Clearly, the public is best served when these sectors work together to take advantage of their different capabilities or to avoid duplication of effort. Such agreements in the weather industry are termed “partnerships,” and they may be formal (i.e., a legal relationship) or informal. This chapter describes the National Weather Service (NWS) partnership policy, reviews examples of partnerships that have benefited users of weather and climate data and information, and summarizes areas of friction that may lead to inefficiencies in the weather enterprise.

NWS PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP POLICY

The commercial weather industry now has the capability to provide many of the products and services that were once the exclusive domain of the federal government and vice versa. To avoid costly duplication of effort and to strengthen the public-private partnership, the NWS established guidelines for determining which activities it should undertake and which it should avoid (Box 3.1). According to the 1991 public-private partnership policy, the development of custom products needed by specific user groups and the television and radio dissemination of most NWS watches and warnings should be left to the private sector.

In addition to defining roles, the policy gives some general criteria for implementation, including the statement, “The NWS will not compete with



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3 Public, Private, and Academic Partnerships The overlapping roles of the government, academic, and private sectors in providing weather and climate services have led to both cooperation and conflict. Clearly, the public is best served when these sectors work together to take advantage of their different capabilities or to avoid duplication of effort. Such agreements in the weather industry are termed “partnerships,” and they may be formal (i.e., a legal relationship) or informal. This chapter describes the National Weather Service (NWS) partnership policy, reviews examples of partnerships that have benefited users of weather and climate data and information, and summarizes areas of friction that may lead to inefficiencies in the weather enterprise. NWS PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP POLICY The commercial weather industry now has the capability to provide many of the products and services that were once the exclusive domain of the federal government and vice versa. To avoid costly duplication of effort and to strengthen the public-private partnership, the NWS established guidelines for determining which activities it should undertake and which it should avoid (Box 3.1). According to the 1991 public-private partnership policy, the development of custom products needed by specific user groups and the television and radio dissemination of most NWS watches and warnings should be left to the private sector. In addition to defining roles, the policy gives some general criteria for implementation, including the statement, “The NWS will not compete with

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BOX 3.1 Roles Defined in the NWS 1991 Public-Private Partnership Policy In order to carry out its mission and foster this public-private partnership, NWS shall: Collect and exchange hydrometeorological data and information on a national and international basis; Issue warnings, and forecasts of severe weather, floods, hurricanes, and tsunami events which adversely affect life and property; Issue weather, river, and water resources forecasts, and related guidance materials used to form a common national hydrometeorological information base for the general public, private sector, aviation, marine, forestry, agricultural, navigation, power interests, land and water resources management agencies, and emergency managers at all levels of government; Provide climatological summaries, frequencies, and limits of hydrometeorological elements to establish a basis for various Federal regulations and design criteria and to support the real-time operations of federally-operated facilities; Provide private weather access to near real-time alphanumeric and graphical data and information through a variety of techniques; Establish basic quality controls for the observed and collected data, and provide the user community with sufficient information to evaluate data and forecast reliability and applicability; Conduct and support research and development of atmospheric and hydrometeorological models; Produce global, national, or general regional atmospheric models and river basin models. The NWS also recognizes the important contribution that private broadcast meteorologists, newspapers, and news agencies make to the timely dissemination of NWS watches and warnings and other products that may require public response. The relationship is one of mutual support and cooperation. In order to protect the competitive nature of the privately-owned media, direct NWS participation with the radio and television media should be limited to those situations requiring urgent public action as in the case of severe or extreme weather and flooding or educational and preparedness activities. The private weather industry provides: Tailored weather, river, and water resources forecasts, detailed hydrometeorological information, consultation, and data for weather, river, and water resources sensitive industries and private organizations; Value-added products such as weather and hydrologic-related computer hardware and software, observational systems, imaging systems, displays, communications, charts, graphs, maps, and images for clients; Climatological summaries, probability values of weather extremes, and similar material for specific design and construction problems. SOURCE: The National Weather Service and the Private Weather Industry: A Public-Private Partnership, 56 Federal Register 1984, January 18, 1991.

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the private sector when a service is currently provided or can be provided by commercial enterprises, unless otherwise directed by applicable law.”1 Some members of the private weather sector read this passage as prohibiting the NWS from providing information to the general public whenever the private sector could do so. The NWS interprets the policy to affirm that the NWS creates and disseminates forecasts and warnings to the public at large and does not provide customized weather products for specific individual clients. The NWS would decline to tailor a weather product, for example, for a local ski resort or a sports team because such a tailored product could be obtained from the private sector. A broader interpretation, the NWS insists, would be untrue to the intent of the policy statement. Thus, the 1991 NWS policy has not resolved the conflict. SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIPS Without a strong, effective collaboration among the government, academic, and private sectors, the general public would not have been the beneficiary of the great advances in weather and climate science and technology over the last 50 years. There are many successful partnerships between two or more of the sectors. Indeed, cooperation, rather than conflict, appears to be the normal mode of operation. Government-Academic Partnerships Because weather data are scientific in nature, the government rightly seeks to have a strong scientific component in its national weather programs. Indeed, a significant effort in the NWS modernization program was the effort to collocate new weather service offices in academic research environments.2 (The great majority of state climate offices and regional climate centers are located at universities.) Of the 121 NWS offices, 20% are located at or near university campuses with atmospheric science departments. An example is the NWS State College office, which is located only a few blocks from the meteorology department at Penn State University (PSU). NWS employees at the State College office coauthor papers with PSU faculty, attend and give seminars at PSU, and work cooperatively in refining 1   A similar statement can be found in early NWS policies. For example, the 1978 policy on industrial meteorology states, “NWS will not provide specialized services for business or industry when the services are currently offered or can be offered by a commercial enterprise.” National Weather Service, 1978, Policy on industrial meteorology, National Weather Service Operations Manual 78-24, Part A, Chapter 55, pp. 1-3. 2   National Research Council, 1991, Toward a New National Weather Service—A First Report, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 67 pp.

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the widely used mesoscale model first developed at PSU, the MM5 model. PSU meteorology students also benefit from a close working relationship with the forecast office and the opportunity to work as interns in an operational setting. In this case, physical proximity fosters ongoing two-way communication, which is critical for establishing and maintaining successful partnerships. Another example of a successful government-academic partnership concerns the rescue of an ice-bound ship in Antarctica. In early June 2002, the Magdalena Oldendorff supplied a number of Russian research stations in Antarctica with food and equipment and then became trapped in the thickening sea ice along the Antarctic continent. Storms in that area are fierce, with temperatures falling below −30°C and frequent blizzards with winds of greater than 60 knots. In response to a request for help, the South African ship Agulhas left Cape Town on June 16 carrying two rescue helicopters. The South African Weather Service provided the meteorological support for the rescue mission, using an experimental real-time weather prediction modeling system (Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System [AMPS]) developed with National Science Foundation (NSF) funding by scientists at Ohio State University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) provided in real time the gridded analysis and forecast data for AMPS. Modern information technology (e.g., the World Wide Web) was essential in obtaining data for the model from NCEP and disseminating the AMPS forecasts.3 AMPS provided accurate forecasts in support of the Agulhas rescue mission, predicting both the passage and the intensification of a major storm as well as breaks in the weather that would permit helicopters to fly.4 It took five days and three windows of slightly less cold and stormy weather to airlift all crew from the Magdalena Oldendorff. This fruitful partnership between NCEP and academia, supported by NSF, had several benefits. First, it sped the transition of a research model into operations.5 The close relationship between the end users (in this case the South African Weather Service) and the researchers improved scientific understanding and led to a more accurate forecast system in support of operations. Finally, the students involved in developing and using the model 3   AMPS forecasts are available at <http://www.mmm.ucar.edu/rt/mm5/amps/>. 4   Ian Hunter, manager of Marine Services of the South African Weather Service, personal communication, June 26, 2002. 5   The difficulty of taking advantage of research to improve forecasts is described in National Research Council, 2000, From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 80 pp.

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and interacting with forecasters at McMurdo gained valuable experience, better preparing them for a career in operational or research meteorology. Many of these government-academic partnerships involve state and local agencies. An example is the Northwest Regional Modeling Consortium, which was created in the early 1990s to collect upper-air observations over Puget Sound and improve predictions of local weather and air quality.6 Today, 10 agencies pool resources to gather real-time data from two dozen networks in the Northwest and fund the application of a high-resolution mesoscale weather prediction model (MM5) to real-time atmospheric, hydrologic, and air quality prediction. The forecasts are disseminated through web pages. Everyone benefits from this long-standing collaboration: for example, the Forest Service uses the products to plan and control burns in forests and rangelands; the Washington State Department of Transportation uses the data to view predicted highway and weather conditions; academia uses the prediction system as a test bed for improving mesoscale model dynamics, physics, and data assimilation; and the private sector uses the on-line MM5 forecasts for a variety of specialized applications. Government-Private Sector Partnerships A particularly strong partnership exists between the government and the media in providing weather warnings to the public, especially during life-threatening events. The NWS relies on the media to distribute weather warnings to the public, and private sector companies have responded by developing technologies such as “crawling” of NWS warnings on TV; instant messaging via cell phone, pages, and “weather bugs” on computer monitors (see Chapter 5); and systems for tracking storms and tornadoes. A prime example was the historic tornado outbreak in Kansas and Oklahoma on May 3, 1999, in which 60 tornadoes were observed. More than 2000 homes were destroyed, another 7000 were damaged, and at least 45 people were killed.7 Television stations in Oklahoma City were on the air continu- 6   C. Mass et al., 2003, Regional environmental prediction over the Pacific Northwest, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, submitted. Members of the consortia include the National Weather Service, University of Washington, Washington State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Port of Seattle, U.S. Navy, Environmental Protection Agency, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Seattle City Light, and Washington State departments of ecology, natural resources, and transportation. In addition, Sun Microsystems, Inc., and Kuck & Associates have made contributions to the consortium (e.g., deeply discounted computers). 7   See “The central Oklahoma tornado outbreak of May 3, 1999,” <http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/storms/19990503/index.html>.

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ously, passing on the many NWS warnings, advising the public on what action to take, and showing the tornadoes live via video feeds and on private radars with storm tracking and time-of-arrival technology. During the time the tornadoes were moving across the Oklahoma City area, 76% of households were getting information from TV or radio.8 According to Harold Brooks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Severe Storms Laboratory, the loss of life might have been 15 to 20 times higher without the effective government-media cooperation. What made this partnership particularly successful was the strong working relationship that already existed between the NWS Oklahoma City forecast office and the area media. An example of government-private sector cooperation that is currently being forged is the Homeland Security Initiative.9 In the event of a biological or chemical attack, AWS Convergence Technologies will provide real-time access to data at no cost from its commercial network of 6000 automated weather stations—most of which are located in major metropolitan areas—to the NWS, the military, and emergency response agencies. The quality of the data and their application in NCEP models are currently being evaluated at NOAA’s Forecast Systems Laboratory.10 The NWS hopes to add this information to its large information base to better assess local weather conditions and predict where airborne hazardous materials could spread. Private sector data have already proven valuable during national emergencies. The NWS routinely uses data collected from commercial aircraft11 to assess and predict the state of the atmosphere. This capability contributed to analyses of dispersion of the smoke plume caused by the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Such local information can assist emergency response teams, as long as preparations have been made to assimilate it in national models prior to an emergency. 8   C. Long, Science plays key role before and after Oklahoma City tornado barrage, Disaster-Relief, June 1, 1999, <http://www.disasterrelief.org/Disasters/990601TornadoScience/>. 9   <http://www.nws.noaa.gov/pa/homelandsecurity8-6-02.html>. 10   Rainer Dombrowsky, chief, NWS Observing Services Division, personal communication, August 21, 2002. 11   Aircraft data have proven to be very valuable in NCEP numerical forecast models as well. Approximately 100,000 U.S. observations a day from more than 500 commercial aircraft are managed by Aeronautical Radio, Inc., through the Aircraft Communications and Reporting System (ACARS). W.R. Moniger, R.D. Mamrosh, and P.M. Pauley, 2003, Automated meteorological reports from commercial aircraft, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, in press.

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Academic-Private Sector Partnerships The work force today and in the future requires highly educated graduates with increasingly diverse skills. In addition to their “traditional” knowledge and skills, meteorologists will need greater familiarity with economics, social science, and/or specific industries (e.g., agriculture, health care, transportation, energy). A number of universities and private companies are dealing with this challenge by developing partnerships to design new courses, bring private sector experience and tools into the classroom, and establish internships at private companies or at campus weather stations. For example, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET) provides learning modules and offers opportunities for members of the private or academic sectors to participate as instructors, guest lecturers, or experts or to spend a sabbatical in the program.12 The “WSI on Campus” program provides participating colleges and universities with workstations and animation software for training students in broadcast meteorology.13 Williams Energy Marketing and Trading Company entered into a five-year partnership with the University of Oklahoma’s school of meteorology to enhance weather and climate research, develop specialized technologies, and improve graduate and undergraduate meteorology education.14 The agreement enabled the university to expand research on advanced weather analysis and prediction, apply a climate system model to energy-related concerns, purchase a supercomputer, create a computer laboratory for students, and fund graduate and undergraduate students. In return, Williams received licenses to the weather analysis and forecasting tools developed with its funding. By stimulating interaction among teachers, researchers, and students at universities with forecasters and other professionals in the government and private sectors, these cooperative programs should help meet the demand for a more broadly trained and flexible work force. 12   <http://www.comet.ucar.edu/cometprogram.htm>; T.C. Spangler, V.C. Johnson, R.L. Alberty, B.E. Heckman, L. Spayd, and E. Jacks, 1994, COMET: An education and training program in mesoscale meteorology, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, v. 121, p. 1739-1772. 13   <http://wws1.wsi.com/corporate/newsroom/releases/011501.asp>. 14   “Williams signs $10 million weather and climate research alliance with the University of Oklahoma,” University of Oklahoma press release, August 27, 2001. Due to downturns in the energy industry, Williams pulled out of the contract in summer 2002.

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Government-Private-Academic Sector Partnerships In some cases, all three sectors may cooperate because each has an interest in a particular improvement or because the expertise of all three sectors is required to address the problem. An example of the former is the partnership to improve the accessibility of NEXt generation weather RADar (NEXRAD) data. NEXRAD data are useful for a wide variety of operational, academic, and commercial purposes, but the large data volumes make it difficult to move data to users. The problem was initially addressed by restricting access to certain data. High-resolution Level 2 and real-time data were available only to the NWS. Academic users obtained high-resolution data through the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), although the system for handling the data was cumbersome and unreliable, and private companies obtained lower-resolution data from the NEXRAD Information Dissemination Service (NIDS).15 In 1998, NOAA and several universities entered into a partnership to access and distribute NEXRAD Level 2 data in near real time.16 Project CRAFT (Collaborative Radar Acquisition Field Test) was funded initially by the University of Oklahoma Regents, but several private companies later joined the project through sponsored research agreements with the lead academic institution, the University of Oklahoma. Private funds (about 10% of the total) helped defray equipment and staff costs associated with making the data widely available.17 The private sector, through its academic partnership, has already begun providing NEXRAD Level 2 data to the outside community and using it to develop new value-added products. A more visible partnership was created for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The partnership included private meteorologists, who provided site-specific forecasts at the various Olympic venues under the direction of KSL-TV chief meteorologist Mark Eubank.18 NWS forecasters 15   NIDS was operated by four private sector companies that had contracted with the NWS to disseminate NEXRAD data. The NIDS agreement expired in 2000, and NEXRAD data are now provided to the private sector by the NWS. The change in distribution was spurred by three factors: (1) the switch to full and open distribution of data as a result of OMB Circular A-130; (2) a new NWS requirement for centralized data collection to improve the performance of numerical forecast models; and (3) technological advances that enabled centralized, cost-effective data collection and distribution. See presentation to the committee by E. Johnson, director, NWS Strategic Planning and Policy Office, November 5, 2001; see also example 17, Appendix D. 16   The CRAFT partnership includes the National Severe Storms Laboratory, University of Oklahoma, UCAR, and the University of Washington. See <http://kkd.ou.edu/about_project_craft.htm>. 17   Kelvin Droegemeier, Regents’ Professor of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, personal communication, September 2002. 18   Prior to the 2002 Olympics, forecasts were provided by national weather services. For

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were responsible for general public safety information, including storm warnings and aviation- and security-related forecasts and information. Faculty and students from the University of Utah’s meteorology department maintained weather sensors in the Salt Lake City area and also ran high-resolution (1-km) localized atmospheric models. The models relied heavily on data from the NWS and MesoWest, a mesonet of more than 3800 weather stations in the western United States operated by private, academic, and public entities.19 This partnership was seen as a success by all, with Eubank writing afterward: Working together in the Olympic Partnership has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done as a meteorologist…. When I first heard the proposal to have academia, government, and the private sector all work together in a common weather forecasting project I was slightly skeptical on how well it would work. As it turned out, that combination yielded greater results than the sum of its parts.20 Elements of Successful Partnerships All sectors in the weather enterprise have, to some extent, different motivations and rewards for working together. As the examples above show, considerable cooperation exists among and between the sectors. Partnerships will be formed when there is a common interest in advancing the understanding and application of the science and when the desired outcome cannot be achieved efficiently by a single sector. They are most likely to succeed when there is a clear objective of the partnership; a mutual respect for and understanding of each partner’s skills, cultural approach, and organizational framework; and early, regular, and meaningful dialogue among the partners. Although the Internet and distributed computing enable partners to be widely scattered, physical proximity permits face-to-face meetings and reduces the barriers to communication.     example, in the 1996 Atlanta games, the Canadian Meteorological Service assisted by provid-ing forecasters, especially those who spoke French. 19   More than 110 agencies, universities, and commercial firms operate networks of weather sensors or contribute data to MesoWest, including the Bureau of Land Management, Soil Conservation Service, state resource and transportation departments, ski resorts and avalanche centers, and weather forecast offices. See <http://www.met.utah.edu/jhorel/html/mesonet/info.html>. 20   <http://205.156.54.206/com/nwsfocus/fs030102.htm#Weather Support Group Completes First Segment of Olympic Forecasting>.

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Some of the recommendations in Chapter 6 are aimed at institutionalizing these successes. CONFLICTS BETWEEN THE SECTORS The different motivations and overlapping activities of the sectors can lead to conflict and misunderstanding (see also Appendix B). At its open meetings and through its web site, the committee invited all sectors to submit written examples of conflicts that have occurred within the last five years. The committee heard from 11 companies, as well as from the Commercial Weather Services Association, which represents 30 companies and independent meteorologists. (No letters were received from the public or academic sectors.) Although statistical inferences could not be drawn from such an unsystematic sample of the commercial weather industry and it must be assumed that those with the greatest concerns are most likely to respond, the examples illustrate the types of issues that cause friction. The examples, half of which were provided by two companies, and responses from the relevant NOAA division, are given in Appendix D. The examples cover issues such as the provision of similar products and services by multiple sectors, use of private sector technologies to improve federal products, dispute resolution, outsourcing, and data quality. Only one example concerns climate products (example 27); the others concern weather products and services. The examples can be grouped into several themes: • NWS data are not always provided on a timely basis or with sufficient checks for errors (examples 15, 16, 24, and 25). NWS data and information products are the basis for many private sector forecasts and products. Consequently, it is essential that the data and products be provided to all interested parties on a regular schedule21 and with proper attention to quality control. There appears to be no penalty to the forecast offices if NWS data or products are released late or with errors.22 A significant number of formatting errors (e.g., discrepancies between the header and body of warnings; see example 24) have been reported. Delays and errors in the data adversely affect the quality of products and services 21   Schedule-driven products are intended to be released at particular times of the day. 22   It remains to be seen what effect the 2002 NOAA data quality guidelines (<http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories/dataqualityguidelines.htm>) will have on this issue. Under the guidelines, weather warnings, forecasts, and advisories disseminated on or after October 1, 2002, should have the highest possible accuracy commensurate with the time-critical nature of the products. Individuals or organizations can request that information be corrected if it has harmed a legally protected interest and if the injury would be addressed by correcting the information.

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provided by all sectors, making it harder to produce accurate forecasts and to build and retain customer loyalty. The NWS acknowledges these issues, but says that it has identified the sources of the problems and is taking actions to correct each of them. Another type of error that is of concern to some users is the error in the observations themselves, which can negatively affect the numerical model forecasts and the climate data set, which in turn negatively affect a wide range of weather and climate products (examples 15, 16, and 25). Increasing amounts of data and more sophisticated quality control of the data in the analysis and modeling systems are addressing the impact of data errors on numerical weather prediction. The NWS expects that modernization of the Cooperative Observer Network, the planned upgrading of the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS), and the institution of new quality control procedures will lessen these problems. Data quality issues are discussed further in Chapter 6. • NWS products and services duplicate those developed by the private sector (examples 1-11 and 19-22). Both the NWS and the private sector view value-added products and services that are not directly related to the NWS mission as within the purview of private companies. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to define what falls within the NWS mission to the satisfaction of all parties. The 1991 public-private partnership policy does not give specific guidance for product development, and the NWS is only now developing a strategy for determining what products it will create and for seeking comment from the community.23 In the meantime, all three sectors sometimes create similar products. Commercial products that are too similar to freely available NWS or academic products will not be competitive in the marketplace. In contrast, a commercial product that is similar to another commercial product may still be profitable. Examples of products created by both the NWS and the private sector include ultraviolet and wind chill indices, point-specific forecasts, aviation and hydrologic services, and other specialized services. The NWS agrees that it is not appropriate for it to offer services tailored for newspapers (example 21). However, the NWS believes that many of the services in question are provided to comply with the NWS mission to protect life and property or other federal statutes (examples 1, 2, 5, 6, 11, and 22) or to meet operational requirements (example 10). Others are a result of advances in science and technology that yield higher temporal or spatial resolution products or improve forecast accuracy (examples 4 and 5). In other cases, the NWS disputes the company’s interpretation of the facts (examples 3, 6, 8, 9, 19, and 20). 23   NWS Policy Directive 10-102, NWS requirements for new or enhanced products and services, August 28, 2002, <http://www.nws.noaa.gov/directives/>.

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A related private sector concern is that the government often uses technologies first adopted or developed by the private sector (examples 7, 12, and 13). As technologies become widely adopted by the NWS and others, the competitive advantage of the commercial adopter or developer is lost. An example is the use of color maps to convey weather information (example 7), which are now used widely throughout the weather enterprise. The NWS noted that it uses technologies in the public domain, regardless of which sector(s) produced them. Government adoption of commercial technologies is discussed further in Chapter 5. • Federally funded centers and universities provide some of the same products and services as the private sector (examples 26-28). Universities, the NOAA laboratories and data centers, and state-supported organizations use taxpayer funds to develop products and services that may be commercially viable. The U.S. government encourages technology transfer to the private sector (see Chapter 4). New products that are based on government-sponsored technology may have a competitive advantage over existing products in the private sector. Examples given in Appendix D concern the environomics program (since renamed the National Climate Impact Indicators Program) at NCDC (example 27) and the provision of weather and hydrologic services in Vietnam by the Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL: example 28), the facts of which FSL disputes. According to NCDC, environomics is a research, service, and monitoring program aimed at providing climate indicators to other government agencies. A related issue is that some companies misidentify the affiliations, and therefore the primary roles and obligations, of other players in the weather enterprise. For example, the NWS is not responsible for the activities of NCDC (example 27) or the NOAA research laboratories (example 28). These centers are administered by different parts of NOAA and are not bound by the NWS 1991 public-private partnership policy (see “NWS Public-Private Partnership Policy” above and Figure 2.1). Similarly, UCAR is a private, nonprofit consortium of universities, not a government agency (example 26). A poor understanding of these institutional affiliations leads to perceptions of unfair practices (see Chapter 4)—whether or not they actually exist—and hinders good working relationships with the other sectors. • Additional NWS services should be outsourced (examples 17 and 18). The provisions of Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76 and the Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act call for activities that are not inherently governmental to be performed by the private sector whenever economically justified.24 The NWS currently spends $50 24   OBM Circular A-76, Performance of Commercial Activities, Implementation of the Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-270).

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million per year on outsourcing. One company states that the NWS could have outsourced NEXRAD radar dissemination, especially since the NIDS infrastructure was already in place (example 17). Another company suggests that the infrastructure for observing, communicating, and data processing be consolidated and contracted out to enable local forecast offices to focus on operations and research, rather than on routine systems operation and maintenance (example 18). In its response, the NWS notes that given the new NWS requirements for centralized NEXRAD data collection and distribution, it was more cost-effective to expand NWS capabilities than to contract out the service. The NWS notes that studies are under way to determine what additional NWS tasks should be outsourced in the future. CONCLUSIONS Despite sometimes vocal complaints from a small number of weather companies, cooperation among the sectors, rather than conflict, appears to be the norm. Indeed, all sectors are dependent on one another and share an interest in the weather and climate enterprise as a whole. When conflicts do occur, they are most likely to relate to which sector should produce a particular product or service. Such questions arise from the ambiguity in the 1991 NWS public-private partnership policy, as well as from misunderstanding of the laws, policies, and institutional arrangements that govern the activities of the different sectors. It is not the committee’s purpose to adjudicate the appropriateness or inappropriateness of the activities described in the examples. Indeed, given the overlapping roles and responsibilities of the sectors, it may not be possible for anyone to do so. However, the issues raised merit careful consideration if the sectors are to better understand their different viewpoints and improve cooperation. Working against one another wastes time and resources that would be better spent developing products that users need. Some suggestions for enhancing cooperation and avoiding future conflicts among the sectors are given in Chapter 6.

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