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FUTURE ROLES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
mission can be accomplished only with the continual input of relevant scientific information from the USGS. To meet this obligation, in coming years, the USGS should ensure that science information is provided in an efficient and effective way and that its personnel and resources are utilized on important DOI issues.
The USGS has the responsibility to provide other federal agencies, states and local governments, tribes, and private and nonprofit organizations with the scientific understanding needed to support the sound management and conservation of the nation's natural resources. It is also charged to furnish accurate and timely geospatial data and information in a form related to geology, hydrology, biology, and topography. To accomplish this role, the USGS:
conducts and sponsors research on relevant national issues;
assesses resources, including oil and gas (domestic and foreign), minerals, water, and biological resources;
monitors, reports, and where possible, provides forecasts of phenomena such as seismicity, volcanic activity, and streamflow;
establishes formats and data standards (e.g., geospatial data) and maintains science databases and infrastructures (e.g., National Spatial Data Infrastructure [NSDI], National Biological Information Infrastructure [NBII]);
promotes utilization of data and information through a variety of communication channels ranging from published studies to Web sites;
provides scientific and technical assistance in the effective use of techniques, products, and information;
develops new technologies for the collection, coordination, and interpretation of data;
coordinates topographic, geologic, and land use mapping, digital cartography, and water data activities in support of national needs and priorities;
provides scientific support and technical advice for legislative, regulatory, and management decisions; and
maintains liaison and coordination with scientists and users of relevant natural science information at federal, state, and local levels; with nongovernmental organizations; and with academia and industry.
These activities of the USGS are aimed at providing accessible, credible, independent science information that is used to “minimize loss