OK, partly to test the discussion board function, but partly to comment... If you read Bob Bacon's email to the SG-CLIMATE_L listserv, you got the Sea Grant Congressional Update with links to the testimony to a House subcommittee on the new National Climate Service bill (I attached both the CU and the bill). HR 2306 proposes establishing Climate Services within the Climate Program Office, which is in the Office of Ocean and Atmospheric Research "stovepipe" of NOAA. I was kind of surprised by Lubchenco's heavier emphasis of public-private partnerships... basically, from my reading of it she sees NOAA and other government agencies stopping at the data provider and impact assessment level, and having private partners take over with understanding needs and doing outreach (see page 6). This isn't what's in the bill - it seems like Dr. L. has gone back to the idea of NCS as a NWS that looks beyond 12.5 months out. Which begs the question: would the government then rely on private entities and nongovernmental organizations to do outreach - i.e., no one, including Sea Grant, does extension as we think of it in the new NCS? Or that NCS extension will be confined to data provision?
I've got a lot of problems with this on several professional and philosophical levels (i.e., there's some consumer protection for people purchasing services from private weather companies because you can go back and verify how well a company forecasts, but how will consumers be protected when they can't judge a private adaptation consultant's work because they can't verify the advice until 25-30 years later?). However I'll bite my tongue on that rant and instead ask y'all if you also detect a shift from Dr. L on how far the government goes in the NCS, and if so, why. As I read Hind's testimony (the lawyer who represents the NWS employees' union), I'm starting to wonder if the NWS experience with the public/private dividing line plays a role. More than once, the NWS has gotten sued by private weather companies who insist the NWS is in direct competition with services that could be provided by the private sector. For instance, the NWS can't tailor forecasts for an individual user; individual users must go to WSI or Intellicast or another provider and pay for it. So is the shift in tone on the NCS coming from some concern from on high that climate extension could face a similar challenge from the private climate consultants that will eventually appear? Are they worried that the NCS will get sued if they have extension agents explain to individuals how data can be used or if the government assists with developing decision support tools? How does extension then define itself so that it isn't in direct competition with private consultants?
Personally, I think that since extension agents don't make decisions for clients, we don't compete, we only inform. If someone wants a consultant to make the decision for them, they're welcome to go shell out the cash for it. But is that enough to avoid the perception of competition from the private sector? Considering that some meteorologists still perceive that the NWS goes too far in competing with private business, I'm afraid the the answer to that question may be no. Can some of y'all who have been doing this longer than me tell me how we explain that?