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
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
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
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.