fulfillment of the basic mission of the USGS, this process must be responsive to the needs of its customers. In recent years, the USGS has produced six strategic plans 1 (USGS, 1996a, 1996b, 1997a, 1998a, 1998b, 1999a) that establish broad priorities linked to the agency's mission; however, in some cases, the priorities defined in these plans appear to have been developed without adequate dialogue with USGS customers.

Second, some USGS planning goals have been unrealistically optimistic and have created unreasonable expectations among its customers. As one example of this problem, the BRD's Bureau Information Needs process, which helps set priorities for serving DOI land management bureaus, seems to have led to unreasonably high expectations by promising more than could be done and, in some instances, leading to customer disappointment and disaffection.

Third, although USGS priority setting must be responsive to customer needs, the scope of the response must be restricted to the agency 's basic mission. As stated in Chapter 4, the USGS should avoid becoming a job shop for local constituencies or a competitor with private sector or state and local sources of scientific information. For example, some USGS work on natural hazards appears to have arisen out of local issues. In such cases, a local jurisdiction has a problem with a hazard such as flooding and channel erosion, and the district office becomes involved on a cooperating, partially funded basis. A member of the WRD's National Research Program also may be recruited to lend expertise. In the end, the result may solve a local problem, and a USGS scientist may craft an internal report or a journal article describing a methodological advance. This is a useful transfer of technology, a case of the USGS serving clients, but it is also ad hoc and a case of the agency supporting itself financially by providing services that could be provided by other organizations. Although in this type of activity the USGS delivers high-quality technical service to society, there is nothing strategic about such a use of the agency's expertise, instead, it is a diversion of the USGS's limited human resources. Meanwhile, national issues that require large-scale and long-term application of the agency 's resources remain unstudied and unresolved.


The Geologic Division, Water Resources Division, National Mapping Division, and the Biological Resources Division have written strategic plans (USGS, 1996b, 1997a, 1998a, 1998b), and two USGS-wide strategic plans have been written in the past five years (USGS, 1996a, 1999a).

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