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Future Challenges for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Mineral Resources Program
ingly scarce ones; and help develop alternative sources of supply for minerals subject to unexpected supply disruptions.
Housed within the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Mineral Resources Program (MRP) provides domestic and international science and information to other programs and disciplines within the agency, other agencies within the department, and other departments within the U.S. government. In addition, state agencies, private industry, academia, U.S. citizens, and the international community use information provided by the MRP. The USGS has carried out these functions in the past, and is respected nationally and internationally for the quality of its information.
In 1996 the National Research Council (NRC) reviewed the USGS’s Mineral Resource Surveys Program (MRSP) plan. The recommendations from that study were used by the USGS in redirecting the program. Shortly after the 1996 NRC assessment was completed, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Mines was abolished and that agency’s minerals information function was transferred to the USGS.
The minerals information function, now executed through the Minerals Information Team, was incorporated into the new MRP. Six years following the 1996 NRC evaluation of the USGS’s MRSP plan, the NRC was asked to examine the USGS’s actions with respect to the 1996 recommendations and incorporation of the minerals information function and to consider future aspects of the MRP. The NRC was not asked to conduct a comprehensive review of the program or the projects within the program. Specifically, the NRC was asked to (1) assess the USGS’s response to the 1996 review of the MRSP plan; (2) evaluate the contributions of the minerals information functions in meeting the goals of the USGS and its partner agencies; (3) characterize how the customer base for the program has changed since the 1996 review (who are the appropriate customers?); and (4) examine how the program’s vision and activities should evolve to meet the nation’s future needs over the next decade.
THE MRP TODAY
Since 1996 the MRSP has undergone substantial changes, including a change in name to the Mineral Resources Program. These changes resulted from several factors, including recommendations made in the 1996 NRC report, significant decreases in budgetary allocations, and manage-