NATIONAL BIOLOGICAL SURVEY FISCAL YEAR 1994 BUDGET JUSTIFICATION
The task of this committee is not to undertake an evaluation of the details of the Department of the Interior's proposal for the National Biological Survey. Nonetheless, the reader may find it useful to see key parts of this proposal. Thus, this appendix contains excerpts of the DOI's FY 1994 budget justification to Congress that describes the mission and organization that DOI has proposed for the National Biological Survey.
''The National Biological Survey will produce the map we need to avoid the economic and environmental 'train wrecks' we see scattered across the country. NBS will
provide the scientific knowledge America needs to balance the compatible goals of ecosystem protection and economic progress. Just as the U.S. Geological Survey gave us an understanding of America's geography in 1879, the National Biological Survey will unlock information about how we protect ecosystems and plan for the future.''
Secretary of the Interior
Perhaps no other function at the Department of the Interior is as critical to natural resource decision-making as is science. In a world marked by growing demands for natural resources and increasing complexity and competition, it is imperative that sound and comprehensive science provide the basis for informed and timely answers. This is particularly true in the area of biological science where our awareness of man's impact upon the diversity and interdependence of life grows daily.
In recent years, the need for broader and more timely biological information has been readily apparent in the numerous controversies and potential economic dislocations surrounding endangered species decisions. Unfortunately, the scientific information being provided often appears only after the crisis has emerged, not before, when there is still time to act effectively.
The creation of the National Biological Survey (NBS) as a freestanding bureau within the Department of the Interior is aimed at filling the vacuum that currently exists for broad scale biological information and assessments of the Nation's natural resources. Science, in the context of the NBS, includes traditional research (including that carried out in cooperation with state agencies and universities) as well as inventorying and monitoring to identify status and trends, and information transfer.
The Department proposes to establish the NBS by combining substantial portions of the biological research and survey activities of three Departmental bureaus — the U. S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (FWS), the National Park Service (NPS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-and smaller research activities from five other Departmental bureaus-the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Bureau of Mines (BOM). Organizationally, the NBS will report to the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
The NBS will 1) perform research in support of biological resource management; 2) inventory, monitor, and report on the status and trends in the Nation's biotic resources, and 3) develop the ability and resources to transfer the information gained in research and monitoring to resource managers and to others concerned with the care, use, and conservation of the Nation's natural resources.
The Department is proposing to establish a new bureau to:
Develop an anticipatory, proactive biological science program that will enable land and resource managers at federal, state, and local levels to develop comprehensive ecosystem management strategies and respond to resource issues in a timely and efficient manner. This will maximize opportunities for constructive cooperation between economic development and resource conservation interests, thus reducing costs and avoiding unnecessary conflicts.
Enable Departmental managers to target resources so as to respond to the most critical national biological resource concerns while ensuring that local concerns are also addressed.
Establish national leadership and focus for the Department's biological science program, enhancing its credibility and providing a greater incentive for natural resource managers and others to rely upon scientifically generated data and conclusions.
Reduce overlap and duplication among the biological research, inventory and monitoring, and information transfer efforts
of the bureaus within the Department, and improve the quality and productivity of the Department's overall biological science efforts.
Give land and resource managers within the Department more timely, objective scientific information essential for decision-making and for structuring more effective partnerships with federal, state and local entities.
Mission and Activities
The mission of the NBS will be to gather, analyze and disseminate the information necessary for the wise stewardship of our Nation's natural resources, and to foster an understanding of our biological systems and the benefits they provide to society. The NBS will act as an independent science bureau, without advocating positions on resource management issues and without regulatory or land and water development authorities.
The NBS will support the appropriate management of land and living resources by, 1) providing information on the abundance, distribution and health of biological resources, through a coordinated, inventory and monitoring program for plants, animals and ecosystems, that will produce a biennial report on status and trends in the Nation's biological resources; 2) furthering the understanding of the functioning of biological systems, their relationships with other resources and their responses to human and environmental stress, through a research program organized around species, population and ecosystem research; and 3) communicating the results of both inventory, research, and technology and methods development, through a state-of-the-art technology development and information transfer element. The NBS will build on existing capabilities within the Department, and will augment them with special emphasis on improved, statistically significant, comprehensive status and trends, and expanded effort on ecosystem and landscape levels of research.
NBS's activities will be fully responsive to the management and
information needs of Interior bureaus, and will be closely coordinated with other federal agencies, state and local governments, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations. Several means will be used to ensure that NBS will meet the needs of Departmental and other research users. It will hold meetings of resource managers, research customers, and research managers in each ecoregion at least annually, to help identify resource trends and research needs and priorities; it will also use a policy board and a science council, to include representatives of Departmental resource management bureaus and external science interests (state, federal, and academic), respectively, to advise on national trends and needs. The NBS will formalize the needs and services to be provided through Memoranda of Understanding negotiated with each bureau. Finally, NBS will maintain the presence of its scientists in resource managers' facilities, to emphasize through physical proximity the objective of continuing a close working relationship with the customer. The goal is to make the change in organization a transparent one, with no obstacles to meeting resource managers' needs while improving the level and quality of support.
NBS will serve the land and resource managers' and policymakers' needs for information on the structure, functioning and responses of biological resources and systems under the management of the Department's bureaus, to enable them to better fulfill their missions. Building on the existing network of relationships, NBS will focus on a broad array of biological information and research needs, from the national and regional levels, through ecosystem and landscape levels, to local and site-specific needs. The research will be both basic as well as problem and issue oriented. NBS will provide the best available, timely information necessary for Department bureaus to make policy and natural resource management decisions at the local level. NBS will also serve, on a reimbursable basis, the needs of other federal and state agencies, local governments, and other entities.
NBS will expand existing inventory activities to produce a coordinated inventory and monitoring program yielding statistical-
ly significant results on the status and trends in abundance, health and distribution of plants, animals, and ecosystems. This will include efforts to identify declines in, or degradation of, ecosystems and their component species and populations prior to the time they are reduced to critical levels demanding severe protection. The inventory program will be conducted in concert with other federal agencies, state agencies, State Heritage Programs, nongovernmental organizations, and academia.
A program for technical development and information and technology transfer will provide managers with tools and information to help interpret and apply biological information in order to better manage natural resources. It will involve: (1) development, modification and adaptation of emerging technologies, (2) development of predictive models based on the research data, for use by managers, (3) development and improvement of techniques, methods and protocols for gathering, synthesizing, analyzing and storing data, and (4) a program to transfer and encourage the effective use of information and technologies by bureau policymakers and natural resource managers.
Cooperative research units remain an important element of NBS's approach. These units will provide scientists and education to help meet local, site-specific, and specialized research needs of the Department, other federal and state agencies. Through existing units, state natural resource agencies already have an established, effective partnership with the federal research capability of the Department. Cooperative research efforts have provided professional graduate education, technical assistance, and resource management information for state and federal resource management agencies at significantly lower costs than each could have provided for themselves.
NBS Headquarters and Field Organization
The programs and functions of the NBS will be carried out through the following major organizational components:
Consists of the Director, Deputy Director, Assistant Directors, and the staff offices and divisions reporting to them (see organizational chart) and provides national policy formulation and program direction for each of the programs implemented under the NBS research, inventory, and information transfer. The Headquarters office directly supervises research and inventory activities that are national in scope. The Headquarters office receives guidance from a Policy Board which consists of Interior bureau representatives, and a Science Council which is made up of representatives from the federal, state, nongovernmental, and academic biological science community. The Science Council assists in improving coordination with entities outside of the Department of the Interior and ensuring that NBS's agenda fully reflects national concerns. The Headquarters office maintains contacts with Departmental and bureau offices, the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Personnel Management, Congress, other federal and state agencies, national organizations, the media and members of the public; and provides central administrative direction and procedures for NBS activities.
Each Center is headed by an Assistant Director, and has overall responsibility for providing line management, procedural and operational guidance for all NBS activities-except national programs-within the region under its jurisdiction. Centers also have responsibility for national program policy development and support for delegated program areas under their jurisdiction, for coordination and communication with local managers and other research customers within their jurisdictions, for providing delegated technical and administrative support functions within their jurisdictions, and for supervising the activities conducted by Research Centers, Cooperative Research Units, and other Region-
al research scientists. There are 4 Ecoregional Centers, located in Leetown, WV; Lafayette, LA; Ft. Collins, CO; and Seattle, WA. (See map, page 6, for regions and associated centers.)
Each headed by a Center Director, have responsibility for directing and conducting large scale regional research, monitoring, and information transfer activities within their specialty areas of jurisdiction; for coordination with and support to resource managers and other research customers; for providing administrative support as delegated; and for supervising Field Stations for whom they have jurisdiction. There are a total of 12 Research Centers and 40 Field Stations.
Each headed by a Unit Leader, have responsibility for conducting research, graduate-level education, and technical assistance activities in support of Interior bureaus, other federal and state agencies, and universities. Their activities are most often local, regional, or statewide in nature, but they may address larger scale issues as special expertise is needed. Acting in concert, they can also provide a nationwide network of research stations. There are a total of 72 Cooperative Units.
Inventory and Monitoring Activities
The Assistant Director for Inventory and Monitoring will direct national efforts for the status and trends, and establish policy, standards, and protocols for a coordinated inventory and monitoring program at the local and regional level. Activities will include efforts to inventory the abundance, distribution, and health
of indicator plants, animals, and ecosystems. Standardized protocols will be established in cooperation with other agencies to enhance comparability of methods. It will include existing inventory programs, including the National Wetlands Inventory, Gap Analysis Program, Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends, and other new components.
The Assistant Director for Information Transfer will direct activities related to management and storage of data within the NBS as well as the transfer of scientific information to research customers. These activities include the development of scientific publications, databases, and syntheses of information generated by research and inventory and monitoring programs.
Bureauwide Support Offices
The Geographic Information System Technical Center, located at Denver, Colorado, and headed by the Technical Center Director, provides bureauwide technical, scientific, data management and administrative services. It will maintain field stations for local and regional support in Onalaska, Wisconsin, and other locations in the future.
Only those resources necessary to accomplish the basic mission of NBS will be transferred to NBS. Researchers and support staff will move to NBS if they are involved in formation and testing of hypotheses, whether laboratory or field-based; basic or applied and mission oriented, research on subjects such as systematics, population dynamics, physiology, behavior, ecology, habitats, biodiversity, and ecosystem processes and functions; and national inventories or those of national significance. Staff involved in applying biological information to management decisions will not
be transferred. For example, the Department's existing organizations will continue to decide whether 1) to list a species under the Endangered Species Act, 2) determine appropriate grazing levels on a specific land parcel, and 3) evaluate alternative road alignments. Most biologists in the Department will not be transferred to NBS. The majority of the Department's biologists are involved in the application of biological information to decisions, rather than in research and major inventory efforts, and will remain in the resource management bureaus.
Inventory and monitoring activities to be transferred to NBS will include those national and regional level efforts that are necessary for, and can contribute to, a comprehensive national picture of the abundance, distribution, and health of biological resources. Purely local efforts will not be transferred but, rather, will be supported by the technology development and standardization efforts of NBS.
The NBS will provide a variety of benefits. It will:
Provide a national focus and leadership for quality inventory and monitoring, biological research, technology development and transfer, and cooperative biological research.
Ensure that science remains independent from management's application of science. This separation of functions will enhance the integrity and objectivity of scientific results.
Consolidate many separate, overlapping functions into one organization, enhancing overall productivity and capability, avoiding duplication, and taking advantage of economies of scale.
Expand the research information and technical support available to all clients.
Provide a clear statement about the importance of quality, professional science.
Provide the opportunity for proactive, anticipatory research that will help avoid future "train wrecks".