Consulting meteorologists who work for the National Weather Service are subject to conflict of interest statutes and the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. Subjects covered by these rules include financial conflicts of interest, appearance problems created by personal relationships, gifts, non-Federal employment and outside activities, misuse of Government resources, and post-employment restrictions.
This presentation will review some of the most common situations faced by NWS consulting meteorologists. They may not use government e-mail or Internet access for private commercial business activities or profit‐making ventures. They may not use nonpublic information they receive as Federal employee for personal purposes. They may not may not invest in “weather futures,” a form of investment similar to commodity futures, but where the value of the investment varies depending on weather conditions. An NWS meteorologist generally may not serve as a weather forecaster or broadcaster on radio, television, or cable stations because it may create an appearance of use of nonpublic information or because it may imply government endorsement of a particular broadcaster or cable station.
There are rules governing whether an NWS meteorologist may use official time or accept compensation for teaching. There are also some restrictions on activities related to participation in private organizations such as the AMS.
The Ethics Law and Programs Division staff of the Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Administration is responsible for providing advice to Department of Commerce employees regarding conflict of interest statutes, ethics regulations, and related laws. Since it is preferable to seek permission rather than beg forgiveness, NWS consulting meteorologists should always contact the Ethics Law and Programs Division for specific advice regarding the rules and regulations.