National Biological Service and the minerals information activities formerly conducted by the Bureau of Mines.

Federal Partnerships in International Earth Science

The mission of the USGS is to provide geological, topographic, biological, and hydrological information that contributes to the wise management of natural resources and that promotes public health, safety, and well being.2 This information consists of maps, databases, descriptions, and analyses of water, energy, and mineral resources, land surface, underlying geologic structure, and dynamic processes of the Earth. The USGS mission is broad and thus requires expertise in multiple areas to assess climate and land-use change, manage ecosystems, assess energy and mineral resources, monitor and mitigate natural hazards, monitor and manage water resources, and provide topographic, geological, geochemical, and geophysical maps. In addition to the other DOI bureaus with which the USGS collaborates, other federal science agencies with Earth science-oriented missions and expertise (e.g., NASA, NOAA, ARS) work with the USGS in areas such as climate change, soil mapping, invasive species, natural hazards, ecological forecasting, public health, energy, and water management (see e.g., NRC, 2007). The USGS collaborates with these agencies on a variety of projects, both domestically and internationally (some of these collaborations are presented in Chapter 3).

International work conducted by NASA, NOAA, and ARS, similar to that of the USGS, may be performed at the request of outside agencies and international bodies. However, these agencies also have explicit mission statements or authorizing language to conduct international research.3 NSF, as another example, provides direct support to the scientific community for international scientific research; USGS scientists may apply to NSF for support of the direct costs of a research project, but the Survey has to provide the salary support for its own scientists in a project.4 The DOE participates in international science endeavors as well, and may ally with other federal science agencies such as the USGS for support on international components of its domestically based projects (e.g., NRC, 2010). The committee did not examine all of the potential federal partnerships for international work in which the USGS could ally itself; further detail regarding the mechanics of these kinds of interagency partnerships for international work is outside the scope of this report. Nonetheless, the committee considers well-organized partnerships among federal agencies


2Figure 1.1 in Chapter 1 shows the science areas under which such information is categorized. Also see

3 See, for example, for NASA; for NOAA; U.S. Code Title 7, Chapter 64, §3291 and for ARS.

4 NSF and USGS signed a memorandum of understanding in 2007 to facilitate development of research activities between the two organizations. See (accessed January 26, 2012).

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