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FYI Number 91: July 14, 2003

Congressional Appropriators Finish FY 2004 USGS Bill

House and Senate Appropriators have completed their work on the FY 2004 Interior Appropriations Bill containing funding for the U.S. Geological Survey. The House has issued its Report 108-195; the Senate committee bill and report are being readied for publication.

The current budget for USGS is $919.3 million. The Bush Administration requested $895.5 million. House appropriators recommend an increase in the survey's budget of $16.4 million, or 1.8% to $935.7 million. Senate appropriators recommended $929 million, an increase of 1.1%.

Selections from the House report follow:

"For the third year in a row the Committee has restored a number of high-priority research programs that were proposed for reduction or elimination. The Department has placed a high-priority on both cooperative programs and programs that are outsourced to the private sector. For the most part, the programs that are being proposed for reduction or elimination in fiscal year 2004 are the very programs that meet these criteria. More than any other Bureau in the Department, the Survey has been a leader in the development of cooperative programs and outsourcing its activities. The Committee believes that Bureaus that are successful in implementing these policies should be rewarded and not penalized.

"NATIONAL MAPPING PROGRAM: The Committee recommends $130,221,000 for the national mapping program, $9,739,000 above the budget request and $2,984,000 below the 2003 enacted level including increases above the budget request of $4,444,000 to restore data collection activities through partnerships and contracts with the private sector, $1,250,000 for cooperative topographic mapping to expand and enhance initial National Map implementation through partnerships (to extend the geographic coverage and enhance data integration activities related to these implementation sites), $2,770,000 for research activities under geographic analysis and monitoring, $500,000 for the Tennessee GIS mapping project, and $775,000 as a science support adjustment.

"The Committee supports the Survey in its efforts to implement the National Map. This strategic project will establish a digital database that will provide up-to-date, consistent, reliable geospatial information and make these data easily accessible to a wide range of users. Building upon the historic investment of geographic data from the base topographic maps, the National Map is being designed to serve as the Nation's new topographic map, while also reducing redundant data being collected by multiple levels of government.

"The Nation's digital infrastructure is playing an ever-expanding role in the U.S. economy. Many private sector companies have built successful businesses on value-added products made from government investments in geospatial data. Geospatial data are also used in economic and community development, land and natural resource management, ensuring public safety during times of both natural (wildfires, floods, earthquakes) and human-induced disasters, and is the foundation for studying and solving geographically based problems. Tremendous economic and productivity enhancements occur throughout the Nation as industries utilize these new technologies.

"The Survey has taken major steps to refocus and realign its activities to ensure the realization of the National Map. The Committee commends the Survey's efforts to restructure its mapping workforce so that resources can be available for building the National Map in partnership with other Federal agencies, State and local governments, the private sector, and universities. Partnership funds for State and local governments are a high priority because these funds are often leveraged three and four fold, allowing the National Map to be created more rapidly, with more partners, and at lower cost to the Federal government.

"The Survey's EROS Data Center is the repository of the world's largest collection of satellite imagery and is designated as a 'National Critical Infrastructure' for purposes of homeland security. USGS archived data are critical to Federal, State, and local governments for protecting the homeland, natural disaster assessments, and understanding global climate change. With emerging technologies, the volume of collected, archived, and distributed data at the electronic data center (EDC) is growing exponentially. Accordingly, the Committee supports the USGS EDC requirement to convert its archived remote sensing data from outdated storage media to disk-based storage. Such a conversion will accommodate extremely high growth rates and provide access to users more efficiently and at lower cost. Further, the Committee supports the implementation of a continuity of operations capability for the EDC utilizing 'remote mirroring' technology, which will eliminate a single point of failure for data storage infrastructure and ensure full recovery with zero data loss from any potential outage.

"GEOLOGIC HAZARDS, RESOURCES AND PROCESSES: The Committee recommends $231,435,000 for geologic hazards, resources, and processes, $9,860,000 above the budget request and $1,732,000 below the 2003 enacted level, including increases above the budget request of $1,900,000 to restore funding for the advanced national seismic system, $750,000 to continue the study into the impact of global dust events, $500,000 for the Great Lakes geologic mapping project, $1,000,000 for the cooperative geologic mapping program, $2,000,000 to continue the implementation of the national coastal program consistent with the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences, $1,300,000 for aggregate and industrial minerals, $9,122,000 to restore mineral research and assessments, and decreases of $4,000,000 for Everglades research and $2,712,000 as a science support adjustment.

"The Committee strongly disagrees with the proposed reduction in the Survey's mineral resources program. Minerals and mineral products are important to the U.S. economy with processed minerals accounting for over $370 billion to the economy in 2002. Mineral commodities are essential to both national security and infrastructure development. Mineral resources research and assessments are a core responsibility of the survey. Since the 1996 review by the National Academy, the Survey's mineral program has refocused its efforts to address better the Nation's need for more and better information regarding the regional, national, and global availability of mineral resources. For these reasons the Committee has restored the proposed cuts to this high-priority program.

"WATER RESOURCES INVESTIGATIONS: The Committee recommends $215,178,000 for water resources investigations, $15,082,000 above the budget request and $8,027,000 above the 2003 enacted level, including increases above the budget request of $6,500,000 to restore funding for the Water Resources Research Institutes, $2,419,000 to restore funding for the toxic substances hydrology program, $600,000 to continue work at Lake Ponchartrain and $900,000 for the Long Term Estuary Group (LEAG) in Louisiana, $500,000 for the continuation of the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Valley Aquifer study begun last year, $500,000 for the Chesapeake Bay program, and $3,663,000 as a science support adjustment.

"The Committee has provided $900,000 for development and deployment of new instruments and studies in the lower Mississippi River. This effort is to be a collaborative relationship within the Long-Term Estuary Assessment Group (LEAG). Within this funding level $550,000 is to be provided to other LEAG partners and $350,000 is for the USGS work to fulfill LEAG objectives. The Committee requests that the USGS provide a report by January 31, 2004, detailing a five-year plan (2002-2006) for USGS involvement in LEAG. The report should describe the proposed work and show how it relates to the Survey's national program priorities. It should define the resources required to implement the plan through 2006.

"The Committee has provided $600,000 for water-quality studies within the Lake Ponchartrain basin. Within these funds, the Survey should provide sufficient funds to continue operation of new flow and water quality sensors deployed in the basin with the funds provided in fiscal year 2003. The USGS should develop its plans collaboratively with Southeastern Louisiana University to assure that the proposed work addresses local problems affecting the Lake Pontchartrain basin and its stakeholders and is relevant to the national mission of the USGS.

"BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH: The Committee recommends $173,349,000 for biological research, $4,474,000 above the budget request and $3,533,000 above the 2003 enacted level including increases above the budget request of $2,800,000 to restore the interagency cooperative fire science program, $500,000 for amphibian research, $1,000,000 for chronic wasting disease, $600,000 for Great Lakes research and operations, $400,000 for Great Lakes vessel operations, $400,000 for the new fish and wildlife cooperative research unit established in fiscal year 2003 at the University of Nebraska, and $500,000 for manatee research in support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recovery efforts, and a decrease of $1,726,000 as a science support adjustment.

"Within the funding increase provided in the budget request for the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII), $500,000 is allocated for the Tennessee node and $500,000 is allocated for the Northeast node in New York.

"The Committee has realigned the Gap Analysis Program by shifting $3,900,000 from the biological research and monitoring subactivity into the biological information management and delivery subactivity. This realignment should result in management efficiencies for this high-priority program.

"SCIENCE SUPPORT: The Committee recommends $91,529,000 for science support, the same as the budget request and $6,352,000 above the 2003 enacted level.

"FACILITIES: The Committee recommends $93,948,000 for facilities, $1,000,000 above the budget request and $3,192,000 above the 2003 enacted level. The increase above the budget request is for the Tunison laboratory for Atlantic Salmon restoration research.

"The Committee is aware that the budget request may not contain sufficient funding for rent for some of the Survey's science centers. The Committee finds this unacceptable and expects that rent for all science centers will be covered within the funds provided to the Survey in its fiscal year 2004 appropriation without jeopardizing ongoing science programs."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
(301) 209-3095

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