Legislative Authorization of the USGS

The USGS has a long history of providing the DOI and the nation with a scientific foundation for decision making—it has been involved in land surveys and federal exploration expeditions since it was formally established in 1879 (Rabbitt, 1989). The USGS Organic Act of March 3, 1879 (20 Stat. 394; 43 U.S.C. 31) formally charged the USGS with responsibility for “the classification of the public lands and examination of the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain.” The Act of September 5, 1962 (76 Stat. 427; 43 U.S.C. 31 (b)) authorized the Secretary of the Interior to formally carry out international activities (see Box 2.1). USGS activities have since been expanded by Congress to include mapping, strategic mineral assessments, and marine surveys. In 1996, Congress transferred to the USGS the biological research functions of the former

BOX 2.1
Authorizing Language for USGS International Activity

The U.S. Geological Survey was established by the Organic Act of March 3, 1879 (20 Stat. 394; 43 U.S.C. 31), which provided for

establishment of office; appointment and duties; examination of geological structure, mineral resources, and products of national domain; prohibitions in respect to lands and surveys. The Director of the United States Geological Survey, which office is established, under the Interior Department, shall be appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. This officer shall have the direction of the United States Geological Survey, and the classification of the public lands and examination of the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain.

The Act of September 5, 1962 (76 Stat. 427; 43 U.S.C. 31(b)), expanded this authorization to include

examination of geological structure, mineral resources, and products outside national domain. The authority of the Secretary of the Interior, exercised through the United States Geological Survey of the Department of the Interior, to examine the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain, is expanded to authorize such examinations outside the national domain where determined by the Secretary to be in the national interest.

On October 1, 1990, 43 U.S.C. 51 stipulated that funds received from any state, territory, country, international organization, or political subdivision thereof, for topographic, geologic, or water resources mapping or investigations involving cooperation with such an entity shall be considered as intragovernmental funds.

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SOURCE: uscode.house.gov (accessed January 26, 2012).



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