May 18, 1999
The Administration does not object to House passage of H.R. 1553, as reported by the House Science Committee. However, the Administration has concerns and will seek changes as the bill continues through the legislative process.
Existing Department of Commerce policy guidance, developed in concert with the private sector, already delineates the roles of the National Weather Service and commercial enterprises in providing weather-related services in a manner consistent with the bill. Under this guidance, commercial providers and the National Weather Service are working together to determine the most efficient ways in which they can provide the best possible weather services to the public. The Administration is concerned that codifying this language, as in section 3(c) of the bill, would eliminate the flexibility that currently exists in the division of responsibilities between the private and public sectors. In addition, the language could create confusion about who is responsible for specific marine and aviation weather forecasts. Furthermore, codification of this internal guidance would establish a vague legal standard which could lead to unnecessary, lengthy and costly litigation. Therefore, the Administration recommends removal of section 3(c) from the bill.
The Administration also notes that the bill fails to include authorizations for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) program or for the Information Technology Initiative. The Administration will work with Congress to ensure that these activities are authorized at the levels requested in the President's FY 2000 Budget.