ric for considering to what extent the Coop Program is addressing defined regional and national priorities. We recognize this will be difficult. As the WRD concentrates more resources to national- and regional-scale problems, it is important that the best aspects of their contributions to more local problems should not be undermined or abandoned.

More flexibility may also be needed with respect to staff resources among the state Science Centers. WRD research-grade scientists at Science Centers rely on both Coop and other federal programs to meet merit criteria associated with their research positions. While redistributing research-grade scientists from the NRP to the Science Centers has elevated scientific quality in these offices, when left to their own efforts to obtain project funding, research-grade scientists may only be intermittently integrated into national research priorities, and even then, sometimes through individual collegial preferences or topical coincidences. Perhaps both Science Center research scientists and NRP scientists may need to be considered for flexible assignments as part of integrated project teams, coordinated to attack national strategic directions. This kind of change would require flexibility to assign research-grade staff in one Science Center to work on a team for another Science Center. Over time, as noted, assignment of research grade staff has increased in the Science Centers, while the NRP staffing has declined. Hence, some of the same issues discussed for realigninment of NRP staff may apply to the research grade staff in the Science Centers:

Recommendation: The USGS WRD should involve all research grade personnel in staffing teams to address regional and national research priorities, regardless of location, to increase the agency’s flexibility.

“Civilizations have failed because of their inability to provide a safe and reliable water supply in the face of changing water resource needs.”

SOURCE: National Science and Technology Council, Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (2007).


Throughout this report, we have tried to illustrate that the water resources of the United States are becoming more strained and limited day

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