NOAA Issues Clarified Partnership Policy

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Jan. 19 it has clarified the Policy on Partnerships in the Provision of Environmental Information, originally issued in December 2004. The clarified policy language was developed in response to concerns expressed by several private entities that the policy could be construed as signaling an intent by NOAA to compete with private companies when producing public products and services like daily weather forecasts.

The primary change is in Section 4 of the policy which now more clearly acknowledges NOAA's recognition that cooperation, not competition, with private sector and academic and research entities, best serves the public interest:

"NOAA recognizes cooperation, not competition, with private sector and academic and research entities best serves the public interest and best meets the varied needs of specific individuals, organizations, and economic entities. NOAA will take advantage of existing capabilities and services of commercial and academic sectors to support efficient performance of NOAA's mission and avoid duplication and competition in areas not related to the NOAA mission."

"NOAA's mission is to serve the public interest by providing our citizens the best environmental information possible," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, PhD., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "This language clarification intends to emphasize the private sector's role in this enterprise. Part of NOAA's broad responsibility is to nurture the growth of a complex and diverse environmental information enterprise and we are sensitive to the concerns and prerogatives of the private sector."

The final language of the policy takes into account 139 comments received during a 90-day comment period between Aug. 4 and Nov. 2, 2005.

The policy, clarification and background are available at

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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