The National Weather Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, plans to back off of operations that potentially compete with the private sector, Information Week reports. NWS has been offering such technological services as Flash-based weather forecasts to hotel services and downloads to wireless devices. NWS is also developing free software plugins for web browsers.
A trade group, the Commercial Weather Service Association, objects strenuously to these services: "These value-added products are in direct competition with the services offered by America's weather industry and the communications industry and undermine significant investments that have been made in new technologies and communication of weather information over those technologies." The Weather Service is also under pressure from Sen. Ric Santorum (R-Pa), who introduced a bill (S.786) that would impose restrictions on how NWS delivers its data.
Under NOAA's proposed rule changes, the agency "should take advantage of existing capabilities and services of commercial and academic sectors to avoid duplication and competition in areas not related to the NOAA mission."
Such a move would be in line with a general philosophy that government should not provide services that could possibly compete with commercial offerings.