• Even core partners, including emergency managers and broadcast and electronic media, now receive substantial portions of their decision-making information from the secondary value-chain. Nearly all television channels, for example, utilize private-sector forecast service providers to prepare their weather information; unaltered NWS information is presented typically only in the case of watches and warnings.
Prior to the MAR, the NWS perceived the secondary value-chain and its constituent organizations largely as competition. The MAR and the subsequent Fair Weather report (NRC, 2003a) changed this. The NWS instituted new policies to avoid competing with or replicating capabilities robustly available within the secondary value-chain. As stated in the Committee’s first report, efforts from professional weather associations—including the American Weather and Climate Industry Association (AWCIA), the National Council of Industrial Meteorologists (NCIM), the National Weather Association (NWA), and the American Meteorological Society (AMS), specifically its Commission on the Weather and Climate Enterprise (CWCE)—have been critical in improving the relationship between the NWS and the private sector (NRC, 2012a).
In the Committee’s opinion, that change has been positive for the nation. Today, the enterprise has developed new capabilities and alternate means for accessing weather and water information. Yet the entire secondary value-chain is built on a foundation of NWS data and services. If NWS core capabilities were to be compromised, this value-chain would be severely degraded. Moreover, the primary value-chain is critical for ensuring a direct path to the public when public safety is at risk. This, too, cannot be compromised. For these reasons, the Committee carefully couples its recommendation to leverage the enterprise with a recommendation for the NWS to prioritize core capabilities supporting both value-chains.
The Committee views the objective of an enhanced NWS-enterprise interaction as a way to enhance the NWS’s ability to accomplish its mission of serving the public. The Committee thinks this is especially important at a time when it is seeking to enhance its service (NWS, 2012). Leveraging the secondary value-chain provides one means to further the NWS’s mission of serving the public.
Achieving this added benefit to the nation requires a fundamental change in how the NWS and the overall enterprise interact with each other. It is not a simple change. The enterprise is not a single entity with clear authorities and responsibilities. Its capabilities may change with time. Therefore, change would need to proceed cautiously and in collaboration with the NWS. The paradigm of enterprise collaboration is not entirely new. The NWS has long relied on the broadcasting sector as a primary means of communicating with the public. Over the past decade, the NWS has begun to extend such collaboration to other areas, such as sensor networks and digital media. The Committee confirms the need to expand the productive interaction of the NWS with the rest of the enterprise.
Regarding the role of the NWS within the broader enterprise, and consistent with Lesson 5 from NRC (2012a), the Committee makes the following overarching recommendation. (Specific, supporting recommendations for how this change could be accomplished are described in Chapter 4).
Recommendation III: Leverage the Entire Enterprise
The National Weather Service (NWS) should broaden collaboration and cooperation with other parts of the weather, water, and climate enterprise. The greatest national good is achieved when all parts of the enterprise function optimally to serve the public and businesses. This process starts with the quality of core NWS capabilities but is realized through the effectiveness of NWS-enterprise relationships. A well-formulated enterprise strategy will also return direct benefit from the enterprise to the NWS, especially in areas of shared research, technology development, observational data sources, and improved end-user access to NWS-generated information.