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Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 08/14/2012

National Weather Service “ammunition” solicitation triggers confusion

UPDATE, 1:07 p.m.: NOAA says there was a “clerical error” in the FedBizOpps announcement stating the NWS required ammunition. The solicitation actually originated from the “NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement” not the National Weather Service. See bottom of post for more details.

Original post: Weather forecasting or preparing for war? The National Weather Service (NWS) seeks to buy 46,000 rounds of ammunition for semiautomatic pistols says the FedBizOpps website. It’s a solicitation head-scratcher of explosive proportions.

Infowars, the website of libertarian talk-show host Alex Jones, says the ammunition being ordered is “designed to cause maximum organ damage.”

But NWS spokesman Chris Vaccaro said the ammunition is not for the NWS. And, in fact, despite the fact the solicitation says NWS “requires” the ammunition, the same solicitation indicates the ammunition is to be delivered to the “NMFS” - which stands for National Marine Fisheries Service. Like the NWS, NMFS is housed under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

What NMFS is doing with the ammunition is another question. It may support its law enforcement function, described by NOAA accordingly:

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is dedicated to enforcing laws that conserve and protect our nation’s living marine resources and their natural habitat. Our goal is to assure that the many people who enjoy these resources for recreation or rely on them for business follow the rules that will maintain the species for future generations.

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement protects fish stocks from depletion and marine mammals from extinction. We also protect the livelihoods of commercial fishers, the hobbies of recreational fishers, and the health of seafood consumers

Vaccaro said NWS will issue a statement clarifying the solicitation shortly.

This is not the first NOAA solicitation to raise eyebrows this year. In May, NOAA posted and then withdrew a $5,000 solicitation for a magician to motivate employees at a leadership training event.

UPDATE, 1:07 p.m.: NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen emailed the following statement, clarifying the ammunition order is for fisheries law enforcement, as we suspected:

Due to a clerical error in the federal business vendor process, a solicitation for ammunition and targets for the NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement mistakenly identified NOAA’s National Weather Service as the requesting office. The error is being fixed and will soon appear correctly in the electronic federal bidding system. The ammunition is standard issue for many law enforcement agencies and it will be used by 63 NOAA enforcement agents in their twice annual target qualifications and training.

By  |  12:45 PM ET, 08/14/2012

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