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FYI Number 91: July 12, 2006

Senate Appropriators Complete FY 2007 USGS Funding Bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee has sent the FY 2007 Interior Appropriations Bill to the floor, which provides funding for the U.S. Geological Survey. The Interior Appropriations Subcommittee is chaired by Conrad Burns (R-MT); the Ranking Minority Member is Byron Dorgan (D-ND). The following numbers are, for the sake of uniformity within this FYI, taken from the report the committee prepared.

The Bush Administration sought a 3.7% or $36.1 million decrease in FY 2007 USGS funding, from $980.9 million (including the emergency appropriation) to $944.8 million.

The House rejected this reduction, voting to increase funding by 0.6% or $5.6 million to $986.5 million.

The Senate Appropriations Committee's bill would reduce funding by 0.1% or $0.9 million to $980.0 million (level funding.)

The following are selections from Senate Committee Report 109-275 accompanying H.R. 5386. The full report is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app07.html

GEOGRAPHIC RESEARCH, INVESTIGATIONS AND REMOTE SENSING:

Current funding is $129.3 million. The Administration requested $76.6 million. The House bill would reduce funding by 39.2% or $50.7 million to $78.6 million. The Senate bill recommends $78.6 million, nearly the same reduction of 39.2% or $50.7 million. The Senate report language states:

"Changes to the budget request include an increase of $2,300,000 to restore funds for ongoing geographic research and a reduction of $300,000 for a proposed multihazards initiative. In agreement with the request, the Committee has transferred $64,301,000 to the Enterprise Information activity where cooperative topographic mapping functions will now be carried out. Also in agreement with the budget request, the Committee has accepted the proposal to rename the geography program to better reflect the reorganization of mapping activities within the Survey. The Committee understands that in part the reorganization is intended to provide a greater emphasis on geographic research as recommended by the National Research Council. With this key goal underscored by the USGS in its budget request, it makes no sense to the Committee that the Survey then proposes a $2,300,000 reduction to ongoing research projects and a 21 FTE reduction-in-force [RIF]. The Committee further notes that no plan is included in the request outlining what, if any, resources would be required to conduct such a RIF. For these reasons, the Committee has restored the proposed decrease and expects ongoing research activities and staff levels to be maintained at the current level."

GEOLOGIC HAZARDS, RESOURCES, AND PROCESSES:

Current funding is $235.3 million. The Administration requested $217.4 million. The House bill would increase funding by 2.8% or $6.6 million to $241.9 million. The Senate bill recommends $239.3 million, an increase of 1.7% or $4.0 million. The Senate report language states:

"Changes to the request include decreases of $700,000 for a proposed multihazards initiative and $1,000,000 for a data collection and preservation proposal and increases of $600,000 for the Alaska Volcano Observatory and $22,943,000 to restore base funds to the minerals resources program. The Committee has provided the requested increase of $500,000 to expand the study of gas hydrates on the north slope of Alaska that was initiated in fiscal year 2006. The budget request includes base funding of $450,000 for the Hawaii Volcano Observatory-University of Hawaii, Hilo collaborative partnership. The Committee expects that $200,000 of that amount will be used to acquire and install upgraded monitoring equipment on Mauna Loa, as well as provide additional technical support.

"As noted above, the Committee has restored funding for the minerals resources program to its current level. Proposals to eliminate or reduce these activities have been rejected in the past and continue to have no merit in the Committee's view. Within the funds restored for the minerals resources program, the Committee expects the Survey to dedicate an additional $1,000,000 to the external grants program to provide a total of $2,000,000 for this activity.

"Within the coastal and marine geology program, the Committee encourages the Survey to continue its significant research investment in the southern Louisiana area in support of both State and Federal agency coastal restoration planning efforts. The Survey's activities in the gulf coast are all the more critical in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and both its research activities and collaborative efforts with partners such as the University of New Orleans should be continued and enhanced to the extent possible within current budget levels.

"The Committee notes the important role that the Survey's energy resource assessments serve to foster the exploration and development of our Nation's energy supplies. The Committee is aware that unpublished Survey research may indicate the potential for sizeable unrecovered energy resources in the Bakken Shale formation of the Williston Basin. The Committee also understands that the Survey is planning to initiate work on its formal Williston Basin energy resource assessment in fiscal year 2007 for completion in late 2007 or early 2008. An up-to-date resource assessment of the Williston Basin is critical to better address our Nation's future energy needs. The Committee expects the Survey to expedite its efforts to complete and publish its resource assessment of the Williston Basin as soon as practicable."

WATER RESOURCES INVESTIGATIONS:

Current funding is $211.8 million. The Administration requested $204.1 million. The House bill would increase funding by 0.9% or $2.0 million to $213.8 million. The Senate bill recommends $216.8 million, an increase of 2.4% or $5.0 million. The Senate report language states:

"Changes to the request include increases of $500,000 to restore funding for the Memphis aquifer study, $280,000 to restore funding for the Ozark aquifer study, $940,000 to restore the proposed base reduction to the NAWQA program; $600,000 to restore funding for the Long-Term Estuary Assessment Group [LEAG]; $900,000 to continue the coalbed methane study of the Tongue River watershed, $1,000,000 to expand the Hawaii well drilling and monitoring program; $300,000 for ongoing monitoring activities on Lake Champlain; $2,000,000 to restore base funds to the cooperative water program; and $6,404,000 to restore the water resources research institutes program, which was proposed for elimination. A decrease of $200,000 has been taken for a proposed multihazards initiative. The increase provided for Lake Champlain is intended to be in addition to the $157,000 in base funding included in the budget request to fund these activities at a total amount of $457,000.

"The Committee notes the importance of ongoing water availability research in the Great Valley of West Virginia as the region's rapid population growth and proximity to major metropolitan areas continues to increase demand for groundwater resources. The Committee urges the Survey to continue efforts to develop comprehensive data on the region's water availability and provide current data and technical assistance to State and local stakeholders so they are better able to manage their water resources."

BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH:

Current funding is $174.9 million. The Administration requested $172.6 million. The House bill would increase funding by 0.4% or $0.7 million to $175.6 million. The Senate bill recommends $176.6 million, an increase of 1.0% or $1.7 million. The Senate report language states:

"Changes to the request include increases of $800,000 to continue molecular biology work at the Leetown Science Center; $200,000 to complete a multidisciplinary water study at the Leetown Science Center; $350,000 to complete research on the Mark Twain National Forest; $500,000 to restore base funds for wildlife, terrestrial and endangered resources activities; $300,000 to complete the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem study; $200,000 to restore the Fish and Wildlife Service Science Excellence program; $900,000 to initiate monitoring and research in the San Francisco Salt Ponds; and $2,000,000 to restore base funds to the National Biological Information Infrastructure. Decreases include $1,000,000 for NatureServe and $300,000 for a proposed multihazards initiative. Within base funds, $1,000,000 is continued for invasive species research in collaboration with Mississippi State University."

ENTERPRISE INFORMATION:

Current funding is $46.4 million. The Administration requested $111.2 million. The House bill would increase funding by 145.0% or $67.3 million to $113.7 million. The Senate bill recommends $106.0 million, an increase of 128.5% or $59.6 million. The Senate report language states:

"Decreases to the request include $680,000 for a proposed multihazards initiative and $4,600,000 for the Federal Geographic Data Committee [FGDC] to maintain that entity at its current level of $4,600,000. No rationale for this increase was provided in the budget request.

"Language has been included in the bill precluding the use of funds to competitively source functions of the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center unless the staff at the Mid-Continent Mapping Center in Rolla, Missouri is allowed the opportunity to compete in the process as a Federal Most Efficient Organization. The Committee expects that a fair and open competition will be held and that both the Rolla, Missouri and Denver, Colorado sites will receive funds and support to fully, effectively, and fairly compete in the A-76 process."

SCIENCE SUPPORT:

Current funding is $69.3 million. The Administration requested $67.4 million. The House bill would increase funding by 4.5% or $3.1 million to $72.4 million. The Senate bill recommends $67.4 million, a decrease of 2.7% or $1.9 million. There was no Senate committee report language providing greater detail. .

FACILITIES:

Current funding is $94.8 million. The Administration requested $95.5 million. The House bill would increase funding by 0.7% or $0.7 million to $95.5 million. The Senate bill also recommends $95.5 million. There was no Senate committee report language providing greater detail.


The Senate report language had an additional section entitled "Other:"

"The Committee has not provided funds to support the multihazards initiative proposed in the budget request. The Survey requested an increase of $2,180,000 to implement this initiative and proposed to redirect $3,700,000 from within base program budgets to support this work. In most instances, the projects to be discontinued are not specifically identified in the budget request. The Committee will consider funding the initiative within the fiscal year 2007 base, provided the Survey comes back to the Committee with a reprogramming that identifies specific projects and programs that are proposed to be stopped or continued in a diminished capacity that is defensible.

"The Committee reminds the Survey that any planned reinvestment of savings achieved in a given fiscal year by downsizing of staff through buyouts and reductions in force should be submitted to the Committee in the form of a reprogramming. Similarly, the Committee expects the Survey to adhere to the reprogramming guidelines regarding advance notification of proposed reorganizations. In the recent past, the Committee has been informed of the Survey's plans only after an announcement has been made or a press release issued. The Survey is expected to consult with the Committee before any planning process concludes rather than providing it with press release after the fact."

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

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