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FYI Number 78: June 17, 2004

House Considering FY 2005 USGS Funding Bill

The House of Representatives is now considering the FY 2005 Interior Appropriations Bill. Contained with this bill, H.R. 4568, is funding for the U.S. Geological Survey. Under this bill, funding for USGS would increase by $6.5 million, or 0.7%, from $938.0 million to $944.5 million. As now written, five of seven programs would receive less money in the next fiscal year.
Accompanying this bill is Appropriations Committee report 108-542 providing the committee's recommendations regarding USGS programs. Excerpts from the report language, as well as proposed funding levels, follow. The full report language may be viewed at http://thomas.loc.gov/

At the outset, the report states: "For the fifth year in a row the Committee has partially restored a number of high-priority research programs that were proposed for reduction or elimination. The Administration has placed a high priority on cooperative programs that leverage funds from State and local governments as well as private entities. 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." The report language continues with recommendations on specific programs:

MAPPING, REMOTE SENSING, AND GEOGRAPHIC INVESTIGATIONS: Under the committee bill, funding would decline 5.4% or $7.0 million from $129.8 million to $122.8 million. The Administration requested $118.9 million. The report language includes the following:

"Changes from the [Administration's FY 2005] request include increases of $483,000 to restore the streamlining cut, $2,355,000 for national map activities, and $1,000,000 to meet the Survey's obligations for North Carolina flood mapping.

"The Committee is concerned that the Survey is not adequately planning for the future of the Landsat 7 program. The Committee has twice reprogrammed funding to keep Landsat 7 operations going under the condition that a short-term fix and a long-term solution to the problem be investigated. To date, no solutions to the problem of continuing operations for a degraded satellite have been proposed. The Committee will no longer increase funding, or reprogram funding from other ongoing Survey programs, to keep the Landsat 7 program operating. The Committee recommends that the Survey operate the Landsat 7 program from within base funds and collect and archive data only. If additional funds are needed for distribution of data and operation of the international ground stations, then those funds must be generated by data sales and reimbursable agreements with other Federal agencies and institutions. The Committee agrees that long-term remote sensing data are vital to many aspects of the government and private sector. The Committee encourages the Administration to work with NASA and other Federal agencies to place the next generation Landsat sensor in orbit as soon as possible to reduce future data gaps.

"The Committee supports the Survey's efforts to manage more efficiently the growing volume of data at the EROS Data Center. Accordingly, the Committee supports efforts by the Survey to convert its archived remote sensing data from outdated storage media to disk based storage. The Committee believes this conversion will accommodate growing volumes of data and provide access to users more efficiently and at lower cost. Further, the Committee supports the employment of data replication technologies that will reduce failures within the data storage infrastructure and will ensure recovery from any potential outage."

GEOLOGIC HAZARDS, RESOURCES AND PROCESSES: Under the committee bill, funding would decline 1.4% or $3.3 million from $234.2 million to $230.9 million. The Administration requested $220.8 million. The report language includes the following:

"Changes from the [Administration's FY 2005] request include increases of $840,000 to restore streamlining cuts, $1,350,000 for the ANSS program, $750,000 to further the Survey's work on landslide hazards, $250,000 to continue to study the impacts of global dust events on coral reefs, $1,600,000 to restore the Tampa Bay Pilot coastal project, and $6,500,000 to restore the cut to mineral resource assessments, and decreases of $400,000 for the earth observation and monitoring program, $250,000 for geothermal assessments, and $500,000 for science on DOI landscape.

"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 adding billions of dollars to the economy in 2003. Mineral commodities are essential to both national security and infrastructure development. Mineral resources research and assessments are a core responsibility of the Survey."

WATER RESOURCES INVESTIGATIONS: Under the committee bill, funding would decline 2.0% or $4.4 million from $215.7 million to $211.3 million. The Administration requested $202.7 million. The report language includes the following:

"Changes from the [Administration's FY 2005] request include increases of $742,000 to restore streamlining reductions, $800,000 for the water availability project, $250,000 for Potomac River groundwater assessments, $250,000 for increased reporting requirements associated with the San Pedro Partnership, $500,000 for the Rathdrum Prairie aquifer, $250,000 for the Chesapeake Bay program, $350,000 for the Hood Canal dissolved oxygen study, and $6,500,000 for the Water Resource Research Institutes, and decreases of $200,000 for the SPARROW model, $375,000 for science on the DOI landscape, and $500,000 for the Klamath Basin initiative. The Committee directs the Survey to dedicate $2,000,000 in existing funds to the ongoing Lake Pontchartrain restoration project.

"The Committee recommendation increases the funding for the water availability project proposed in the request by $800,000. This program, as outlined in the Survey's November 2003 implementation plan, calls for the establishment of two pilot projects at an estimated cost of $5,200,000. Due to current budget constraints, the Committee recommendation does not fully fund the pilot project, but funding is included to initiate the Survey's top priority pilot project in the Great Lakes region. The Committee expects the Administration to continue to request funding in future budgets to expand this program for other areas of the country."

BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH: Under the committee bill, funding would decline 1.4% or $2.5 million from $174.5 million to $172.0 million. The Administration requested $167.6 million. The report language includes the following:

"Changes to the [Administration's FY 2005] request include increases of $602,000 to restore streamlining reductions, $2,800,000 to restore the interagency cooperative fire science program, $500,000 for manatee research, $170,000 for equipment at the Anadromous Fish Research Lab, $250,000 for the Great Lakes Deepwater Large Vessel program, $400,000 to restore the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and $500,000 for a general increase to the Cooperative Research Unit program, and decreases of $350,000 for science on the DOI landscape, and $500,000 for the Klamath Basin initiative. Within base funding, the Committee directs the Survey to provide an additional $75,000 for the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study for chronic wasting disease research and $250,000 to continue the Delaware River Basin Ecologically Sustainable Water Management Project.

"The Committee is concerned about the growth of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII); the number of planned regional and thematic nodes is too high and inadequately justified. The Committee does not agree that having 12 separate regions is necessary to distribute electronic information over the World Wide Web. The Committee directs the Survey to locate all new ‘thematic' nodes in the same physical location as existing regional nodes and to consolidate operational expenses. The Committee also suggests that the Survey reduce the number of planned NBII regions and realign existing regions to align better with the Survey's existing regional structure.

"The Committee has provided an increase for the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units. The Committee is concerned about the strategic growth of this system and directs the Survey to develop a long-term plan addressing the number and location of new units that are needed prior to any expansion of the system. This plan should be delivered to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations no later than December 31, 2004."

ENTERPRISE INFORMATION: This is a new USGS budget category that consolidates activities from other survey components. The Administration requested $45.2 million. The committee provided $44.2 million, a reduction of 2.2% or $1.0 million. The report language states: "Changes to the [Administration's FY 2005] budget request include decreases of $250,000 for the Enterprise Services Network, $5,000 for e-government, $64,000 for Safecom, and $680,000 for Disaster.gov."

SCIENCE SUPPORT: Under the committee bill, funding would decline 25.7% or $23.3 million from $90.8 million to $67.5 million. The Administration requested $68.7 million. The report language includes the following: "Changes from the [Administration's FY 2005] request include an increase of $311,000 to restore the ‘streamlining' savings and decreases of $414,000 for e-government, $700,000 for financial management improvements, and $405,000 for competitive sourcing activities."

FACILITIES: Under the committee bill, funding would increase 3.1% or $2.9 million from $93.0 million to $95.9 million. The Administration requested $95.9 million. There was no report language.

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

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