PWSCG Terms of Reference

Purpose

The PWS (Public Weather Service) provides a coherent range of weather information, services, advice and weather-related warnings that enable the UK public to make informed decisions in their day-to-day activities, to optimise or mitigate against the impact of the weather, and to contribute to the protection of life, property and basic infrastructure. The PWS also provides relevant and timely information to Public Sector users to enable them to fulfil their duties.

The PWS also fulfils international commitments on behalf of UK Government, and provides research, and forecast and observational data which are essential inputs to a wide range of Met Office services.

The PWSCG (Public Weather Service Customer Group) provides independent advice and recommendations to a BIS Minister to enable formal agreement of the PWS Customer-Supplier Agreement. In addition, it acts as the customer on behalf of the public for free-at-point-of-use weather services and advice and ensures that these services are aligned to the operational needs of Public Sector users of PWS outputs. It also acts as guardian on behalf of the public and Public Sector users of the Met Office's underpinning operational capability. It is responsible for setting its requirement and specifying its outputs, supporting research and development to meet future requirements, acting as watchdog to ensure delivery of services to agreed quality standards.

Responsibilities

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Setting the current and future requirement of the PWS and specifying its outputs
  • Ensuring appropriate inclusion of international commitments within the PWS
  • Conducting or commissioning appropriate consultation and market research to
    ensure
    • representation of interests of professional partners and public users of the PWS
    • representation of interests of public sector customers for whom the Met Office provides direct services using a defined baseline of PWS capability and data
  • Conducting or commissioning appropriate financial or technical scrutiny to ensure
    • delivery of value for money in relation to the quality of service required
    • efficiency
  • Setting performance measures and associated targets
  • Robustly monitoring performance and delivery against specified outputs
  • Agreeing funding for services based on past performance and present requirements
  • Providing support for Met Office bids for additional funding from alternative sources, as appropriate, to enable further development of the Service
  • Assisting the Met Office in discharging its PWS responsibilities through the identification of opportunities to share knowledge and research undertaken by PWSCG members
  • Considering and endorsing proposals for in-period changes within the PWS as required 
  • Maintaining appropriate level of communication with the Met Office Executive
  • Providing independent advice to the Minister for Skills on the Public Weather Service

Relationships and lines of communication

A BIS Minister is responsible for the Public Weather Service Customer Function.

A Shareholder Executive Minister is responsible for the Met Office and is accountable to Parliament for the Trading Fund's policy and operations. The Chief Executive of the Met Office is personally accountable to the Minister for the effective and efficient management of the Trading Fund and for achieving the Aims and Objectives set by the Board and owning Department. He is also appointed the Accounting Officer for the Trading Fund. The Trading Fund reports performance and seeks top level guidance from the Shareholder Executive.

PWSCG is responsible for proposing changes to these Terms of Reference to a BIS Minister.

Group Members

The Chairman will be a public appointment a BIS Minister. Other Members will be drawn from the main Public Sector users of PWS outputs, together with public appointment(s) by the Chairman as appropriate to represent public users of the PWS. The chairman may also allow representatives to attend the meetings as observers. Membership may include representative from:

Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat
ACPO - Association of Chief Police Officers
CFOA - Chief Fire Officers Association
Local Government Association
Scottish Government
Welsh Government
Northern Ireland Government
Environment Agency
Highways Agency
Maritime and Coastguard agency
Civil Aviation Authority

Head of the PWSCG Secretariat will act as advisor to the PWSCG and, as a representative of the funding Department will provide assurance to the budget holder regarding appropriate use of BIS funds. In addition, a representative from a nominated broadcaster (currently BBC), acting with the Met Office to deliver the PWS outputs, will be assigned to the Customer Group to advise on output specification, effective communication of the PWS message and inform the PWSCG on public perception of the PWS outputs, based on feedback from viewers and listeners.

The Chairman and public appointee(s) will be remunerated by BIS through the PWSCG Secretariat, contracted for a fixed term.

PWSCG Chairman

The Chairman has responsibilities additional to those of the group. He/she is the single point within the PWSCG accountable to the Minister for Skills, and is responsible for:

  • Chairing the PWSCG
  • Ensuring the proper execution of the PWSCG ToRs
  • Reviewing and, if appropriate, seeking amendment to the PWSCG ToRs
  • Establishing and maintaining the most appropriate funding mechanism to fulfil the PWSCG ToRs
  • Formal approval of the PWS Customer-Supplier Agreement (CSA)
  • Negotiating funding from BIS through the Spending Review process
  • Negotiating and agreeing the PWS price annually with the Met Office
  • Confirming to the Custodian of the PWS funds that invoices from the Met Office are consistent with the agreed output price
  • Ensuring that PWS funds are spent with due regard to economy, value for money and the Government's drive for efficiency
  • Establishing, maintaining and documenting the most appropriate PWSCG process to fulfil its ToRs
  • Building and maintaining links with appropriate user representatives to inform the development of future output definitions
  • Raising the profile of the PWS within government
  • Increasing the integration of the PWS within broader government initiatives
  • Increasing the impact of the PWS on beneficial outcomes for the UK
  • Identifying and supporting, as appropriate, bids to alternative funding sources
  • Providing reports to the Met Office Board and Departmental Owners
  • Providing a focal point for all PWSCG correspondence

The Chairman will appoint a deputy to act on his/her behalf in his/her absence.

Secretariat

The PWSCG will be supported by a Secretariat staffed by officials provided by BIS. The Secretariat will be a dedicated resource and strongly support the Chairman and PWSCG, in particular:

  • Consulting widely with public and professional users of the PWS
  • Liaising with other government stakeholder interests in the PWS
  •  Drafting output requirements for incorporation in the annual review of the PWSCG CSA and formally improving the Service Definition Annexes
  • Ensuring appropriate financial provision
  • Liaising with the Met Office and monitoring of performance against agreed Business Performance Measures and Milestones.The PWSCG will be supported by a Secretariat staffed by officials provided by BIS.

Formal Meetings

The PWSCG will normally meet quarterly to conduct its formal business. Other ad hoc meetings may be called by the Chairman as required. A formal meeting of the PWSCG will be considered quorate provided no more than one third of members and one of the independent members (excluding any advisors, observers and the Secretariat) are absent. Where necessary, voting will be on a two thirds majority basis and the Chairman will have the casting vote.

Duration

The PWSCG is established on an on-going basis until no longer required, when it will be dissolved on instruction from a BIS Minister.

Last updated: 2 August 2013