satisfaction of customers with specific products and the program at large.7 However, this tracking of program impact is sporadic and lacks a structured approach and cataloging system. Ultimately, tracking impact will allow NAWQA to demonstrate significance and the return on the nation’s investment. A unified strategy for the timely preparation, release, and subsequent tracking of the impact of NAWQA information and products is needed.
Coordination, Cooperation, and Collaboration
The comprehensive nature of the Science Plan makes it clear that NAWQA is committed to being a cooperative, collaborative, and coordinated federal program. This commitment continues and builds on a history of success in these endeavors within USGS, with the Department of the Interior, and with other federal, state, and local agencies. The Science Plan for Cycle 3 is a plan for addressing national water quality needs that deliberately goes beyond what NAWQA can accomplish, providing a framework for other agencies to identify objectives to be met as part of addressing the nation’s water quality issues. Thus, although NAWQA will be a cornerstone to implementing the Science Plan, the plan cannot be fully realized without involvement of other groups and agencies and a focus on real collaborative, financial, and intellectual efforts. This will require an expanded approach to involve potential partners and collaborators directly, when appropriate, in the development of science and implementation work plans, explicitly outlining roles, responsibilities, and accountability. The committee recognizes that these efforts are not as simple as they sound and indeed can be costly and time-consuming with attempts to maintain communications among different parties. Difficulties can often arise from overlap or differences in missions that require management time to reconcile. Keeping these potential costs in mind, there is value in NAWQA’s ability to leverage greater resources and expertise from external partners to meet the nation’s needs for water-quality assessment and understanding.
NAWQA’s scope and success have made it a visible and respected focal point within USGS. During the course of the committee’s deliberations, and during the time the draft NAWQA Science Plan was under development, USGS reorganized into six mission areas: Ecosystems; Climate and Land-Use Change; Energy and Minerals, and Environmental Health; Natural Hazards; Core Science Systems; and Water. The realignment also created a new Office of Science Quality and Integrity tasked with monitoring and
7 The first Customer Satisfaction Survey was in 2000, probing the usefulness of a specific report, The Quality of Our Nation’s Waters—Nutrients and Pesticides, Circular 1291. The second and third surveys were more general in format, and were conducted in 2004 and 2010, respectively.