According to the Palm Beach Post, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference introduced a bill that would prohibit the National Weather Service from providing forecasts and other weather information that COULD be provided by the private sector. Critics say that as written, it is unclear whether the NWS could provide hurricane forecasts, although the bill does exempt forecasts that would save lives. Sen. Santorum’s state of Pennsylvania is also home to Accuweather Forecasts.
The bill is S 786 and is called National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005. Currently it has no cosponsors and we at FGI really hope it stays that way. We’re with Harvard University technical consultant Scott Bradner, whom the Post quoted as saying, “I believe I’ve paid for that data once. … I don’t want to have to pay for it again.”
Mr. Bradner is absolutely right, the American Taxpayers HAVE paid for that data to be collected, stored and turned into forecasts. For FY 2006, the President has proposed $372 Million (may need to scroll down) for the National Weather Service. We did NOT pay that much money so that the private sector could have exclusive access to to NWS’s data. If they want to compete, let them add value to what the government is doing or find another line of work, or spend their own $372 Million collecting weather data.