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FYI Number 125: September 20, 2004

Senate Appropriations Committee Sends FY 2005 USGS Bill to Floor

The Senate Appropriations Committee has sent S. 2804, the FY 2005 Department of the Interior Appropriations Bill, to the floor. Under this bill, funding for the U.S. Geological Survey would remain essentially flat for the fiscal year beginning on October 1.

The House passed its version of this legislation on June 16 (http://www.aip.org/fyi/2004/078.html). Senators may consider S. 2804 this week if an agreement can be made to consider it under an expedited procedure.

Accompanying the Senate bill is a report from the Appropriations Committee containing its recommendations. Selections from this report, 108-341, providing the committee's general guidance follow. Readers wishing to review funding for a specific program should consult the full committee report at the following site: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app05.html

OVERALL USGS FUNDING: SURVEYS, INVESTIGATIONS, AND RESEARCH: The current budget is $938.0 million. The House bill calls for an increase of +0.7% or +$6.5 million to $944.5 million. The Senate bill recommends an increase of +0.2% or +$1.5 million to $939.5 million.

The Bush Administration requested $919.8 million. The Senate Appropriations Committee rejected this proposed 1.9% reduction, stating: "The Committee has not agreed to most of the proposals recommended in the budget justification. Proposed streamlining reductions and vehicle fleet reductions have not been taken throughout the Survey's programs because no data has been provided to substantiate these changes. Further, the Committee has reinstated most of the individual projects targeted for elimination in the budget request, many of which were developed in collaboration with USGS personnel in the field. The Committee is concerned that both Department of the Interior [DOI] and administration-wide priorities, as well as the Survey's administrative changes, are being balanced on the backs of the program disciplines that are the basis for the Survey's existence and its scientific reputation. The strength of the Survey's existing efforts in many program areas is deserving of additional support. The Committee has little ability to provide that support, however, when it must annually restore large sums for proposed program and project reductions that have been taken with little or no justification. The Committee urges that future budget requests place a stronger emphasis on the Survey's core programs, which have proven value and strong public support."

MAPPING, REMOTE SENSING AND GEOGRAPHIC INVESTIGATIONS: The current budget is $129.8 million. The Administration requested $118.9 million. The House bill would reduce funding by -5.4%, or -$7.0 million, to $122.8 million. The Senate bill would reduce this budget by -7.7%, or -$9.9 million, to $119.8 million.

Regarding the Landsat program, the committee report stated: "The Committee is concerned that it has been over a year since the equipment failure on the Landsat 7 satellite and yet no clear guidance has emerged from the administration as to how USGS should proceed. Leaving the Survey and/or the Department of the Interior to somehow figure out how to absorb the tab for continuing satellite operations, now that the sale of degraded data is insufficient to cover costs, is not a solution to the problem. The USGS is responsible for satellite operations, data collection and archiving. The larger questions of whether to maintain a satellite that produces degraded data and, if so, how, the status of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, whether additional satellites will be launched in the near future to provide this continuity, and how to meet the costs associated with any of these options must be decided. In the Committee's view, if the decision is made to maintain Landsat operations at the current level for the near future, then the various Federal agencies that typically rely on Landsat data and want production continued should share in the cost of the satellite's operations. This solution cannot be effected by USGS and DOI alone, but requires the involvement and direction of administration officials at a higher policy level. The Committee expects that all interested parties will work toward a responsible resolution of these issues in the weeks ahead." "In the meantime, the Committee expects the mapping program to be cautious in committing itself to new and/or expanded cooperative agreements before consensus is reached on Landsat funding. . . . "

GEOLOGIC HAZARDS, RESOURCES, AND PROCESSES: The current budget is $234.2 million. The Administration requested $220.8 million. The House bill would reduce funding by -1.4% or -$3.3 million, to $230.9 million. The Senate bill proposes a reduction of -2.5%, or -$6.0 million, to $228.2 million. The Senate committee report language pertains to specific projects.

WATER RESOURCES INVESTIGATIONS: The current budget is $215.7 million. The Administration requested $202.7 million. The House bill would reduce funding by -2.0% or -$4.4 million, to $211.3 million. The Senate bill proposes a reduction of -1.3%, or -$2.7 million, to $212.9 million. The Senate committee report language concerns specific projects.

BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH: The current budget for this program is $174.5 million. The Administration asked for $167.6 million. The House bill proposes to reduce funding by -1.4%, or -$2.5 million, to $172.0 million. The Senate bill proposes a lesser reduction of -1.0%, or -$1.7 million, to $172.8 million. The Senate committee report language cites individual projects.

ENTERPRISE INFORMATION: This is a new budget category for which $45.2 million was requested. The House bill would provide $44.2 million, while the Senate legislation includes the full request.

SCIENCE SUPPORT: The current budget is $90.8 million; the Administration sought a 24.3% reduction to $68.7 million. The House and Senate each agreed with approximately this reduction: the House made a -25.7%, or -$23.3 million, cut to $67.5 million. The Senate bill has a -28.0%, or -$25.4 million, reduction to $65.4 million.

FACILITIES: This is the one budget category that would increase from the current year level of $93.0 million. The Administration requested an increase to $96.0 million. The House bill would increase funding by +3.l%, or +2.9 million, to $95.9 million. The Senate bill calls for an increase of +2.1%, or +$2.0 million, to $95.0 million.

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

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