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For those not familiar with the current (and past) debate between the private weather sector, academic meteorology community, and the public weather services (generally NOAA and the National Weather Service (NWS)), here’s a very brief overview.
The private meteorology community is worried about unfair competition from the academic and public sectors and the lack of a clear policy concerning how the sectors interact and how the sectors should solve disputes that arise. The private sector feels that the government’s weather services are stealing a piece of their pie and doing it unfairly, since the private sector contributes tax dollars which help to fund the government weather services that eventually compete against it. Further, the private sector feels that the nation as a whole could benefit from a more limited NWS/NOAA role. This more limited role would remove some services that are duplicated between the government and private sector which would release more government money and personnel to address the core functions of NWS/NOAA.
The recent NRC Fair Weather Report and the very recent Santorum Senate Bill S.786 both address this issue, and numerous other academic papers and press releases by industry organizations also address the issue. The latest release by the National Council of Industrial Meteorologists is perhaps the most detailed release to-date, and outlines four goals that the NWS/NOAA should work toward while developing policies to solve the on-going debate. In part, these goals mention “…prohibiting uniformly within NOAA the development and dissemination of products and services that unfairly compete with the products and services of private sector meteorology…” and “Encourage positively NOAA’s interaction and collaboration with private sector meteorology through a variety of means and venues…”