COORDINATION OF THE NATIONAL PARTNERSHIP FOR BIOLOGICAL SURVEY
The National Partnership for Biological Survey will provide, for the first time, an organized framework for collaboration among government and nongovernment organizations at the national, regional, state, and local levels. Much of the information on biological resources resides at the state and local levels, and many decisions about biological resources are made there. Many government and nongovernment organizations in the United States are active in the field of biological survey, and all need to participate in a truly comprehensive national effort.
Because of the broad array of organizations involved in the Partnership, successful implementation of the concept will require that a complex set of institutional relationships be managed effectively. The National Biological Survey being established within the Department of the Interior has a broad range of responsibilities, but it cannot by itself come close to meeting the full range of needs and objectives in scientific research, inventory, and information management described in the preceding chapters. The committee has concluded that the management of the National
Partnership will require flexible and creative approaches to organizational structure and coordination. The establishment of the NBS provides the catalyst for establishing a broad new national framework for providing the information needed to manage our nation's biological resources, with DOI playing a lead role in establishing the new relationships.
This chapter identifies needs for coordination and collaboration and recommends ways to meet those needs. The mechanisms discussed are intended to allow the National Partnership to adapt to changing circumstances and priorities and to encourage full collaboration among all interested parties. The unprecedented requirements for coordination among the various entities that collect, curate, analyze, evaluate, or use data that describe functioning ecosystems and their components preclude a top-down pyramid of responsibility. Instead, all the participants in the NPBS should be viewed as active collaborators. The coordination mechanisms that we discuss are intended to foster an open collaborative process. The complexity and need for flexibility and collaboration are illustrated by such examples as Partners In Flight, the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Initiative (see Box 4.1). The organization of Partners in Flight is an example of the kind of networking that will be needed to achieve the goals of the National Partnership. In fact, Partners In Flight is only one of many existing national collaborative efforts that will participate in the NPBS.
The increasing interest in regional management systems—which take into account not only the requirements for survival of individual endangered species, but also the future of the ecosystems that sustain them and many others and add that amenity to human lives—will require increasingly complex cooperative arrangements. It is a complex problem to balance development—which at its worst might amount to the one-time conversion of potentially renewable natural resources and at its best might rest on the sustainable use of those resources—with the preservation of natural and seminatural areas that include values of other kinds, as we have seen, for example, in recent years in connec-
tion with the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest. Considerations of this sort often also involve international relationships; for example, the work being carried out by the provincial government of British Columbia, jointly in part with the government of Montana, includes important innovations in dealing with ecosystems at a regional level. Similar considerations apply in California, where a promising coordinated regional strategy involves the cooperation of the pertinent state and federal agencies, as well as private conservation groups (see Box 3.2). However, achieving an integrated regional strategy will be complicated by the dispersion of management authority for different kinds of organisms, habitats, and water resources over federal, state, and county agencies (see Box 2.3 for an example).
ROLE AND FUNCTIONS OF NBS
The National Biological Survey should assist in enabling DOI to meet the diverse mandates of its bureaus, including setting priorities for acquisition of lands. To accomplish that, the NBS should seek internally to integrate and standardize inventory, monitoring, and research efforts of the various DOI land-management agencies. That would cover the almost 300 million acres of DOI-managed lands and the species that come under DOI management authority. The NBS should also facilitate access to data necessary to enable state and local managers to make better informed resource decisions.
In addition, the NBS should be able to identify organisms and communities at greatest risk and determine their management needs before having to resort to enforcement of the Endangered Species Act or imposition of stringent regulatory controls under other authorities. That should be done through research (whether carried out by the NBS or other agencies), inventory, monitoring, and communication of the resulting information to policy-makers and land managers.
The NBS should encourage and facilitate the development of
Box 4.1: Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation—Partners in Flight
Declines in neotropical migratory-bird populations have focused attention on the need for conservation of these species and the lack of firm data on the status of many. The Partners in Flight program, catalyzed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, brought federal, state, and private partners together with a common goal to protect species of neotropical migratory birds and conserve their habitats, including North American breeding grounds, Latin American wintering grounds, and the migration routes that connect them. An active partnership including all 50 state fish and wildlife agencies, 14 federal agencies, and 38 private conservation organizations and corporations are working together under signed agreements toward this goal.
With over 350 species breeding in, migrating through, or wintering in more than a dozen countries from Canada to Latin America, needs were too big for one organization or country to handle alone. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the state wildlife agencies are leading in expanding monitoring and population assessment efforts, and the U.S. Forest Service is aiding in those efforts by conducting research and formulating active land-management plans. The Bureau of Land Management is conducting research in management on riparian systems that are vital for breeding, migration, and wintering habitats in the western half of the United States. The Department of Defense, the National Park Service, various U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies, and a vast array of nongovernment organizations are collaborating with two basic thrusts in mind. The first is to develop and implement adequate monitoring, analytical, and research programs to assess the needs of birds and their habitats; and the second is to implement active land management first on federal lands and then through partnerships with private landowners that control even larger areas of the continent. International programs are aided through direct involvement by Canadian agencies and entities and through the Western Hemisphere program of FWS working with Latin American countries.
Nine working groups—covering monitoring, research, information and education, legislative issues, and five regions (including international)—are focusing on local needs and priorities. Meetings, workshops, and symposia have advanced a habitat-based initiative focusing on a specific list of neotropical migrants with priorities for work.
Working groups include open membership, and meetings are attended by representatives of federal and state agencies, national and local nongovernment organizations, universities, and the forest-products industry. Participants meet as peers to design effective, scientifically credible conservation plans and have produced a priority list of species, lists of research priorities on a regional basis, and a needs assessment for monitoring with protocols for standardized procedures for expanding scope and coverage. Programs eventually will address land management by various agencies to benefit neotropical birds. Attention to land-management agencies with vast holdings of rangelands, parks, refuges, and national forests is a logical start toward ecosystem-scale management.
The NBS logically would help orient and support this program to achieve the scale of work necessary for effective conservation of this large and diverse group of migratory birds.
NPBS research to meet the needs of the nation for biological resources and sustainable ecosystems. The effort will encourage other agencies and groups to see themselves in the context of the larger enterprise. Much necessary monitoring and much of the essential research will be done by agencies and entities other than the NBS. In addition, the NBS should establish institutional points of contact to facilitate communication among the various elements of the National Partnership.
Recommendation 4-1: The NBS should have a dual mission: to meet the scientific research and information needs of DOI for management of the lands within its jurisdiction and species for which it has responsibility (and geographic areas that affect either of the above) and to provide national leadership and vision for the NPBS.
Although the NBS will be a scientific organization, it must have strong and reciprocal relationships with management experts in
DOI bureaus, so that their mandates can be met through accurate and timely scientific information. Meeting these demands for knowledge to support the management functions of DOI will create a tension with the goal of serving as the core agency for the National Partnership. There will be some creative tension between the desire to pursue new scientific inquiries about biological resources and the need to conduct studies that are focused specifically on current management needs. The early history of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in DOI clearly illustrates those tensions (see Box 4.2) Mechanisms should be identified to ensure that the NBS can meet each of these equally important parts of its dual mission in the long term.
One of the reasons cited by the Secretary of the Interior for the establishment of the NBS was the need to ensure objective, high-quality science that will be responsive to user needs. Several groups have raised a concern that an independent NBS will be less responsive to the user needs of the land-management agencies in DOI than the present organizational arrangement, where research expertise is contained within each of the relevant agencies.
The NBS must have the expertise necessary to design and conduct research, interpret results and share them with decision-makers in other bureaus, and coordinate the nation's broader efforts in the National Partnership—including identifying gaps in expertise and research and seeking to fill them either through the NBS or through the resources and mandates of other agencies and organizations. In this view, the NBS has a responsibility to take the broadest possible perspective and to help the country to recognize its deficiencies in knowledge and expertise. No government agency today has such a mandate, and many kinds of research are not done. Many scientists believe that organismal biology has declined, in part for this reason.
DOI does not and cannot possess all the scientific skills or personnel to carry out the functions of the NPBS by itself. In a sense, DOI should operate its NBS as a ''national trust'' designed to ensure the success of the National Partnership for Biological Survey. Its dual mission requires balancing specific needs for
DOI programs with the broader needs of the country. The hands-on scientific work of the NBS should be lean and focused. In other words, in-house research, monitoring, analysis, and application to problems of ecosystem management should be directed primarily at DOI management and mission needs, and many of these needs should be met through contracts and grants so as to maintain a national network of capabilities. A cadre of experienced scientists should work with other participants in the National Partnership to identify information needs and stimulate programs that will satisfy those needs and provide leadership.
The fundamental purpose of the NBS is to provide a rational and objective scientific basis for meaningful stewardship of the nation's biological resources. Its scientific credibility and reputation are therefore of utmost importance, and they must be protected and reflected in a comprehensive and rational leadership plan.
The conduct of scientific investigations at the NBS should be as free as possible from political influences that could adversely affect the scientific credibility of the new agency or prevent it from performing research that, although it could lead to politically unpopular results, is scientifically necessary. A well-managed and effective program of external review of the NBS programs will be essential, and peer review of all programs in the NBS is highly recommended. The director of the NBS must be an acknowledged and respected professional leader in the biological-science community and should be selected in a way that helps to ensure the scientific independence of the agency, as has long been the case in the selection of the director of USGS. The director of the NBS could be appointed for a 6-year, once-renewable term of office and selected from a list of candidates suggested to the Secretary of the Interior by appropriate representatives of the scientific community. A chief scientist should be similarly appointed, and the term of office could be staggered with that of the director for purposes of continuity. The chief scientist should be free of management responsibilities other than for the development of scientific programs.
Box 4.2: Balancing User Needs with the Advancement of Science: The Early Experience of the U.S. Geological Survey
The U.S. Geological Survey, created on March 3, 1879, was charged with the following combination of responsibilities: "classification of the public lands and examination of geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain." The legislation stemmed from a report of the National Academy of Sciences, which in June 1878 had been asked by Congress to provide a plan for surveying the territories of the United States.
For the survey's initial program of work, the first director, Clarence King, chose to emphasize mining geology, to devote but a small effort to general geology, and to confine paleontology and topographic mapping to what was necessary to support the geologic studies. In doing so, King emphasized practical studies at the expense of basic ones. He nonetheless expected that the facts gathered in the mining geology studies would lead to advances in basic science.
A mining geology program began in 1879 with comprehensive studies of the geology and technology of three great mining districts—Leadville in Colorado and Comstock and Eureka in Nevada—and the collection of mineral statistics in the western states. In addition, through a cooperative arrangement with the Tenth Census, mineral statistics were collected in the eastern states, iron resources in all parts of the country were systematically studied in the field and in the laboratory by a variety of techniques, and an effort was made to trace the continuation of the copper-bearing rocks of Michigan and Wisconsin through northeast Minnesota to the Canada boundary. There investigations in general geology included the unfinished studies of the earlier surveys in the Colorado Plateau region, on the Quaternary history of valleys in Utah, and on the geology of the Rocky Mountain region north of New Mexico and west of the 94th meridian.
King resigned as director in March 1881. Despite his short tenure, he had such a profound influence on the survey's organization and mode of operation that his imprint was clearly evident decades later and still can be recognized. King's choice to succeed him was John Wesley Powell, almost King's antithesis in background, education, and experience. Both had wide-ranging scientific interests, but King's centered on mathematics and geophysics, and Powell's tended toward natural history and anthropology. In geology, which Powell considered part of geography, he was primarily concerned with land forms and land use.
King and Powell also differed greatly in their philosophies of administration, which King apparently did not realize when he resigned. King had given the work of the geological survey a mission orientation, planned the goals, and selected the staff, but given them freedom to choose their methods of work in order to achieve the goals. Powell allowed the staff to choose not only their methods of work but the subjects they would investigate as well. That alone meant an immediate change in the geological survey's program. In addition, because Powell looked on geology and topography as independent but closely related parts of the greater field of geography, he made the topographic work of the geological survey independent of geologic studies as soon as he became director.
During Powell's first 3 years as director, the survey prospered, and its appropriations grew steadily, amounting to $386,000 for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1884. By that time, King's simple organization of the survey into mining geology and general geology had been transformed. General geology, initially described by Powell as structural geology and paleontology, became five divisions of geology and five of paleontology. The chemical laboratory, mining statistics, preparation of illustrations, and the library were "accessory" divisions. Without benefit of formal organization, the geological survey was also investigating the irrigation of arid lands, the relief from floods that would be afforded the lower valley of the Mississippi by using waters from the Rocky Mountains for irrigation, and the geographic distribution of the great forest areas.
In a mood for economy, Congress in 1892 slashed appropriations for scientific agencies, especially those items which seemed to have little immediate practical purpose. The Geological Survey's appropriations for geological surveys, paleontology, and chemistry and physics were drastically reduced, and several statutory positions were eliminated. Only the appropriation for the report on mineral resources went unscathed, although the appropriation for topographic surveys was cut only a little. The Senate then appointed a Select Committee to "investigate the operations of the United States Geological Survey, the efficiency and utility of such a survey, together with the progress made and economy observed in this work."
The congressional action was clearly aimed at Powell and his administration of the Geological Survey. The principal reason was that Survey science was not serving the great economic interests of the country although the all-encompassing nature of the Survey work or resentment of Powell's ideas of land reform and the closing of the public domain during the Irrigation Survey, to which some historians have attributed the action, may have played a part. In particular, Senators from the mining states in the West, which were also states in the arid regions, wanted economic geology restored to the preeminent position it had had under King, and members of Congress in the South and East wanted economic geology investigation in their regions. A few powerful Senators in fact wanted to force Powell's resignation and to restore King to the directorship.
Powell submitted his resignation in May 1894. The Secretary of the Interior promptly recommended to President Cleveland the appointment of Charles D. Walcott as the third director.
Basic science was an integral part of the Geologic Branch under Walcott. Fundamental studies were made in the genesis of ore deposits, in paleontology and stratigraphy, in glacial geology, and in petrography. The geologic time scale was revised, new definitions for rock classes were developed, and the first geologic map folios were published.
COORDINATING THE NATIONAL PARTNERSHIP
In its deliberations about coordination and management of the NPBS, the committee reached the following conclusions:
Coordination among federal agencies, with state and local agencies, and with such entities as museums and universities is a key to the success of the NPBS. These participants perform different activities that are essential for the generation of useful information, and the needs identified in Chapters 1 and 2 cut across the geographic foci of the activities and jurisdictions of these organizations. Effective coordination mechanisms will
facilitate the ability of the Partnership to perform work that crosses political and jurisdictional boundaries.
The most important long-term consideration for local, state, and federal management and regulatory agencies and many private-sector users will be the use of NPBS-generated, scientifically based information by decision-making bodies and policy-setters. The information will directly enhance land-and water-use practices for the preservation and management of biological resources.
An important guiding concept is to work through state organizations for local application of NPBS data. Whereas ecosystems and biota are not constrained by state boundaries, the current structures of most DOI agencies and many other federal agencies recognize state boundaries. For example the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is organized on the basis of state offices, and BLM districts lie primarily within state boundaries. National Wildlife Refuges and National Marine Sanctuaries are encompassed primarily within state boundaries, as are national parks, Indian reservations, and many reclamation projects. Most national forests lie within state boundaries, as do most military reservations. The USGS Water Resource Division has state offices. Other federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also recognize state boundaries. There are strong reasons to have a focus on states within a broader organizational framework—it gets things done on the ground. State agencies that are critical to the success of the NBS include wildlife agencies, parks, forestry and land agencies, environmental regulatory agencies, museums, universities, and biological (natural history) surveys. Much wider recognition must be accorded the broad authority of county governments over land-use planning on both public and private lands. Once federal regulatory decisions or court actions are complete, implementation of programs is often at the county level by entities that traditionally have not had ready access to, or skills to interpret, biological data.
Both NPBS and NBS activities might develop a scientific
focus on regions larger than the states, but the regions should be determined by problem-specific needs and situations. Because a state organizational structure for the NBS is recommended, it is unlikely that either the National Partnership or the NBS needs alternative geographical bases. Nonetheless, collection, analysis, and dissemination of data may, for some purposes, be categorized by ecological criteria that do not necessarily correspond with any political boundaries, such as watersheds, vegetation zones, or wildlife migration routes.
The above conclusions, along with findings described in earlier chapters, have led the committee to believe that an effective coordination mechanism is required. Because the scope of the activities of the National Partnership are quite broad, and because of the extensive amount of intergovernmental and nongovernmental coordination, the committee believes that no existing model for national and federal coordination is readily adaptable to the National Partnership for Biological Survey. A unique and innovative process for coordination will probably need to be developed. The committee did not attempt to prescribe a detailed coordination mechanism. Instead, the committee concluded that a formal mechanism should be established and that it should embody the specific characteristics described below.
Mechanism for National Coordination
Recommendation 4-2: Formal mechanisms should be established for coordination among the entities with responsibilities for the National Partnership for Biological Survey. The mechanisms should collectively exhibit the five characteristics described below.
The coordination mechanisms should
Provide for high-level, balanced input from diverse partici-
pants and users into the development and implementation of the Partnership. Because the NPBS will be a national program that cuts across political, jurisdictional, and geographic boundaries and involving both governmental and nongovernmental entities, it needs a mechanism through which all sectors involved can advocate, justify, and discuss proposed programs and activities that will affect them and, to the degree possible, reach consensus on a balanced and effective agenda. Bottom-up input, although important, is not sufficient to ensure that participants and users will communicate sufficiently with each other, that the federal participants in the Partnership will obtain sufficient and balanced input from nonfederal participants, or that nonfederal participants will have sufficient authority within the program to ensure their involvement.
Take full advantage of the federated structure of American government, in particular the states. The key role of states in the management of the nation's biological resources, in the structure of Congress, and in other aspects of government makes them natural foci for Partnership programs and activities.
Have a clear lead organization with primary responsibility and authority for fostering coordination. Only a federal government entity has the breadth of charge, access to resources, and sufficiently broad mission responsibility to play this role. Within the constellation of federal agencies, and for reasons described in Chapter 1, the committee believes that the lead agency should be DOI. The most logical alternative focus, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), was rejected by the committee for four reasons: First, the committee believes that an agency with mission responsibility related to the nation's biological resources would be able to focus more effectively on the needs of the Partnership than can the EOP with its myriad responsibilities and need to respond to shifting issues. Second, the lead agency can take direct action in response to input from participants and users, whereas the EOP must work through mission agencies. Third, although the EOP has a number of policy-coordination responsi-
bilities, it is not itself operational and cannot act on the kinds of day-to-day issues that the Partnership will involve. Fourth, the EOP does not have the kinds of mechanisms for direct involvement with the states that are critical to a program like the Partnership with its substantial nonfederal participation.
Provide for continuity of involvement by participants and users. As discussed in previous chapters, an effective Partnership will require long-term, continuous commitment from those involved. Temporary advisory bodies can play important roles, but they are not an adequate substitute for a permanent mechanism of coordination that will play a key role in such tasks as the developing and implementing standards for data acquisition and information management, making sure that what is learned from Partnership activities shapes future programs and priorities appropriately, and ensuring that participants and users have timely, up-to-date information on the status of and trends of changes in the nation's biological resources.
Be designed to encourage active, voluntary participation. Because of the diverse character of the Partnership, much of the involvement in it will need to be voluntary, especially for nonfederal participants. If the program is to be successful, ways must be found for all key stakeholders to "buy in" to the process and support it over time. A top-down, centralized approach is unlikely to engender the full and enthusiastic cooperation of all critical participants. Coordination will best be achieved through leadership, consensus-building, and positive incentives, such as funding for interagency collaborative activities, state programs, and extramural research, provision for personnel exchange, the development of a strong sense of shared mission, and unequivocal support from key leaders throughout the participating community.
In addition to the Partners In Flight program, the committee reviewed a number of possible models for national and federal coordination, including the National Commission on AIDS, the Federal Drug Policy Office, the Federal Coordinating Council on Science, Engineering, and Technology, the Arctic Research
Commission and the Interagency Arctic Research and Policy Committee. The committee believes that none can serve as an exact model for the coordination mechanisms needed for the Partnership, but the committee was able to draw concepts from each to create several possible approaches, which are discussed below.
Coordination among nonfederal participants might be accomplished via a standing body comprised of appropriate representatives of those involved in the Partnership, such as state agencies, national scientific institutions, major scientific disciplines, nongovernment natural-resource organizations, museums, and private-sector organizations involved in the development and management of biological resources. The link to federal programs could be provided through the Secretary of the Interior. Such a group could identify and recommend national (not solely federal) policies and priorities for biological-resource assessment (not management decisions) and make recommendations for all segments of the Partnership, both federal and nonfederal. It could also review NPBS programs for their appropriateness to policies and priorities and recommend appropriate changes.
In the committee's view, what is needed is a high-level forum for the discussion, development, and implementation of policies and priorities for all nonfederal stakeholders in the National Partnership, not merely an advisory body. Recommendations for programs would be passed to the appropriate entity for action and feedback. Each representative would work directly within the sector of the community (e.g., museums, etc.) that he or she represents to implement policies and priorities.
An effective mechanism for federal coordination might be an interdepartmental committee on biological survey. Such a committee could be chaired by the Secretary of the Interior and include the heads of key federal departments and agencies involved in the Partnership, especially the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, and Transportation, EPA, and the National Science Foundation. The mechanism should provide
cross-agency coordination of federal policies and participation in the Partnership and it should identify federal-agency priorities for the conduct of biological research and resource assessments.
The interagency committee would be both a forum for high-level policy discussion and coordination and a framework for increased day-to-day interaction at the working level. Issues related to the implementation of the National Partnership by the federal government could be effectively coordinated by this committee, which would function as a peer agency, without the need for extensive involvement by the Executive Office of the President. However, the President could increase incentives for coordination through the budget process—for example, higher budgetary priority could be given to collaborative work such as the regional projects described in Chapter 2 (Recommendation 2-13), than for noncollaborative work in a given region. Any major interagency policy disputes that could not be settled by the federal coordinating mechanism likely would need to be handled through established policy-coordination procedures in the White House. A means for regular feedback between the federal and nonfederal coordinating mechanisms should also be established.
Appropriate mechanisms also need to be established to obtain scientific advice for the Partnership and to ensure proper data management. These mechanisms would identify priorities for research and protocols for surveys and inventories; establish procedures for quality assurance in research and data management, including the development of database standards; plan the development of the NPBS data network; and develop recommendations for ensuring access to data by public and private users. One way to obtain the necessary advice and guidance would be to establish committees in science and data management.
Coordination within the Department of the Interior
Much of the work of the NBS will be directed toward providing
high-quality scientific information to improve decision-making by the land-management agencies within DOI. The department has proposed the establishment of a policy board consisting of senior representatives of all DOI bureaus, whose function would be to ''offer guidance to identify priorities for NBS so that it can produce data useful for resource managers.'' Establishment of such a board by secretarial order would underscore its importance. It should be chaired by the director of the NBS. In addition, a secretarial order could establish a process and criteria for identifying and setting priorities for research needs within the department. The process should provide for field managers to identify research needs and local and regional priorities, which would be reviewed and consolidated into the NBS research program. It should permit open discussion of priorities within the department, in the recognition that funding limitations probably will not permit all research needs to be met.
Field and State Coordination
Recommendation 4-3: The Secretary of the Interior should establish, through either existing or new DOI or other appropriate facilities, an office in each state to facilitate joint NBS and broader Partnership activities and to provide a communication channel among state agencies, private and individual participants, and federal agencies.
This might be the most important consideration for ensuring that the NBS achieves liaison with all possible contributors. DOI (through BLM, National Park Service [NPS], the Minerals Management Service, USGS, and The Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS]) has a working relationship for land management with state and county governments and has regulatory relationships for trust species through the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Great Lakes Fishery Councils, various fisheries legislation, and other laws. Therefore, this relationship can
logically be a starting point for coordination at the state level. The proposed offices should provide for coordination among USDA, EPA, DOI, the Department of Defense (DOD), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Forest Service, and any other federal agency charged with working within a state, as well as with relevant state and private agencies, such as museums, universities, and conservation organizations.
An appropriate mechanism for coordination at the state level would be planning or steering committees that would coordinate biological research and inventory activities within each state. Such committees would consist of representatives of state and federal agencies and other cooperating parties.
The precise composition and size of the committees would need to be appropriate for the needs of their particular states. The committees would provide for data management and accessibility to user groups within their states. The state committees would maintain liaison and information transfer with the coordinating bodies.
The formal establishment, organization, management, and coordination of the National Partnership for Biological Survey will greatly improve the effectiveness of federal expenditures on biological science relevant to natural-resource management. An informal inventory of federal spending on research in environmental biology identified annual total federal spending of almost $1 billion, excluding inventory and data-management activities. The coordination mechanisms recommended in this chapter will greatly improve the efficiency and expenditure of federal funding, including evaluation and prioritization of current spending on programs relevant to the goals of the Partnership. Nonetheless, there likely will be a need for increased federal investments. In view of the
purpose and objectives of the National Partnership, there appear to be a number of important gaps in current federal and national programs. Bridging those gaps will require both new and expanded federal programs.
Department of Interior
On the basis of the material submitted to the committee by DOI, it appears that all the existing biological research activities and expertise in the land-management bureaus have been identified for possible transfer to the NBS. We believe that such a sharp distinction of responsibility will not adequately meet the needs of the land-management bureaus. For example, in many instances a land manager might require on-site scientific expertise to address an immediate and narrow issue. Under the department's proposal, such requirements would have to be met by the NBS. We believe that this arrangement would not be most responsive to the land manager's needs and would unduly burden the NBS with tasks that would not contribute to the nation's understanding of its biological resources. We recommend that the land-management bureaus retain sufficient scientific expertise to accomplish three separate functions: to address unique site-specific biological-resource issues at individual land-management units, to address specific short-term issues, and to facilitate interaction between the land-management bureaus and the NBS to ensure that the NBS is responsive to the needs of the other bureaus. Such retention would require a careful examination of the activities and expertise currently proposed for transfer to the NBS—an examination that could be conducted if the proposed personnel transfers are implemented in phases, as recommended in Chapter 5. It would also require addition of resources to the NBS to enable it to meet its mission. The issue of how best to balance the scientific research needs specific to individual bureaus with larger, cross-bureau and national needs is important and
should probably be addressed in a study by an independent group of experts.
The NBS needs to develop a core staff capability in an appropriate range of the biological and information sciences. It will need to augment its initial staff capability with new staff in key scientific disciplines. The staff proposed to be transferred initially to the NBS were employed for other reasons, already have a full range of responsibilities, and might not be appropriate for transfer to the NBS. The NBS will need additional scientific staff in such areas as botany, taxonomy and systematics, population biology, invertebrate zoology, ecology, social sciences, statistical design and analysis, and information sciences.
Recommendation 4-4: The NBS should perform a systematic assessment of needs based on existing staff capabilities and program requirements and develop and implement a plan to hire needed experts. This should be the highest priority in the application of additional budget and staffing resources. In addition, the NBS should have the core staff capability necessary to support the coordination mechanisms of the National Partnership.
It is equally important that the internal staff capability within the NBS be held to a minimum. The NBS should not attempt to "do it all" with in-house staff. Rather, it should seek to use other federal resources and to rely increasingly on externally funded research to meet its mission requirements. Those points are discussed in more detail below.
Many of the scientific disciplines and the expertise needed by the NBS are currently in other federal programs. DOI therefore has arranged for the temporary detail of a number of key people from other agencies to DOI to assist in the formation of the NBS and recommends that this practice be extended and expanded. Temporary personnel exchanges between the NBS, other federal agencies, and other participants in the NPBS can be an effective way to augment NBS scientific expertise and core capabilities.
Such exchanges also can provide an opportunity for NBS personnel to learn more about other federal agencies' programs and thus promote increased coordination and enhance opportunities to develop cooperative activities. Interagency personnel exchanges can be an effective mechanism to leverage existing federal personnel resources, minimize duplication among the agencies, and provide a rapid infusion of additional skills to the NBS.
Recommendation 4-5: DOI and the NBS should establish a continuing program of personnel exchanges among the federal agencies and other participants in the NPBS. Such exchanges will help to provide needed expertise to the NBS, minimize duplication of effort, and promote improved coordination among federal programs.
Biological research covers a broad spectrum from fundamental research to focused and locally applicable research. A robust national program of biological research must encompass the entire spectrum. Increased federal investments in basic research in support of NPBS needs should be assigned to NSF, which has management expertise and experience in supporting basic scientific research. The increased funding should be focused on increasing the amount of research on biological issues that directly assist NPBS needs. Increased federal research investments in the NBS initially should be focused on augmenting research programs that are directed toward DOI's mission requirements. Many of these programs focus on ecosystem biology and management. It will be appropriate to consider adding funding in the future to enhance NBS programs in conducting extramural research. Peer review of all these components is essential to their continued success.
Recommendation 4-6: The NBS should rely strongly on extramural research to meet its mission requirements.
To meet the needs of the land-management agencies in DOI, the NBS will need to perform much short-term research. It
should seek to rely heavily on extramural research, much of which can be implemented through the Cooperative Research Units (CRUs) to be transferred to the NBS from FWS and NPS. New funding would be needed to staff existing CRUs fully and to build the broader programs needed for the NBS to be successful. Increased reliance on extramural research programs at the CRUs can also strengthen training programs for future biological scientists. Staffing needs for CRUs should clearly be an important focus of the recommended needs assessment for NBS.
DOI should expand the scope of CRUs to include agreements with the nation's universities, museums, and other appropriate parties to operate or support programs or laboratories focused on specific groups of organisms and studies of ecosystems. The taxonomic units would train specialists, conduct surveys, complete taxonomic research, develop research and reference collections, and maintain taxon-specific databases. The CRU model has served wildlife and fisheries management needs well, and it could meet critical needs for research on taxa of concern to DOI missions.
Recommendation 4-7: The NBS should develop mechanisms to use research and inventory programs in other federal agencies.
There are extensive biological research and inventory programs in NOAA, USDA, EPA, the Smithsonian Institution, and DOD. Each of those agency programs would make substantial contributions to the NPBS. Their coordination and integration could be accomplished through the proposed coordination mechanisms. However, because the other federal programs are governed by their missions and legislative authorities, they might not be fully responsive to the broader purpose and objectives of the NPBS in the absence of additional incentives. The NBS might have to enter into specific cooperative agreements with the other agencies and provide cofunding for specific programs. Effective use of the
other federal programs will necessitate some funding increases for NBS to support new interagency collaborative research activities. However, the increased investments by the NBS would be cost-effective, in that they would avoid the need for the NBS to undertake large new programs of its own.
Recommendation 4-8: The Secretary of the Interior should support expanding the scope of financial assistance for state programs to make the states full participants in the National Partnership.
The states receive funding for activities under the Pittman-Robertson, Wallop-Breaux, and Endangered Species Acts that covers research surveys and inventories and management actions focused on sport fish, game animals, and endangered species, respectively. The states have undertaken a much broader range of programs, including Heritage Data Centers, that focus on a broad range of biological resources and will have a critical role in the evolving NPBS. DOI should work with the states to expand the scope of financial support for state programs as important components of the NPBS.
In terms of the NBS, the recommendations listed in this section on budgetary considerations should have high priority for any federal budget increases; additions to the NBS core staff should have the highest priority. The budget increases for the priority areas discussed in this chapter could be offset to some extent through a careful review and restructuring of the programs transferred to the NBS from other bureaus. The committee recognizes that many worthy programs need to compete for federal and nonfederal funds. To the greatest extent possible, additional funding for the National Partnership should be made available
from savings that result from the increased efficiency that will come from more effective coordination and from programs that are judged to have lower priority. Specific recommendations for reprogramming are beyond the purview of this committee. However, it should be noted that new investments made in the work of the Partnership are very likely to result in net long-term budgetary savings by helping to anticipate and avoid costly environmental conflicts and repair efforts.
DOI, through the NBS, should immediately begin to exercise the leadership and coordination responsibilities recommended by this committee to leverage other federal biological research spending more effectively. Initial high-priority subjects for increased leveraging and coordination of federal biological research spending would include those mentioned in Chapter 2. Effective leveraging of other federal programs might necessitate small increases in NBS budgets for interagency collaborative research activities.
Non-DOI Federal Agencies
Recommendation 4-9: Agencies whose participation is essential to the success of the National Partnership, especially NSF, should receive increased funding for the study of U.S. biodiversity so that the NPBS can take full advantage of the nation's taxonomic and ecological expertise.
Such support should represent a long-term commitment to the goals of the NPBS. We believe that the recommendations adopted by the National Science Board (1989) for biodiversity research should be implemented as soon as possible to enhance the national and global contribution of U.S. science in this field. These were not specifically focused on biodiversity within the United States, but added emphasis on the national territory would greatly enhance the objectives of the Partnership and is compatible with the
aims of the National Science Board report. NSF's program of extramural funding reaches all segments of the academic community. We therefore concluded that increasing funding levels for the appropriate programs would be an effective way of improving the scientific knowledge appropriate for dealing with biodiversity in the U.S.
To examine the actual and potential role of NSF in supporting the study of U.S. biodiversity, it is pertinent first to review current funding levels, using FY 1992 as a baseline. For community ecology, ecosystem research, and long-term ecological research, more than 80% of all new awards, amounting to about $19 million in FY 1992, were made for research conducted in the United States. Similarly, about 80% of new awards in population biology, amounting to about $4.5 million, were made for studies in the United States. For systematics research relevant to the NPBS, however, the total allocation for new awards in FY 1992 was only $0.8 million (about one-third of the total awarded—for nine grants), and for taxonomic monographs and revisions, only $0.4 million (for three grants of the seven awarded); $6 million was awarded for the support of all systematics collections. Given that hundreds of individual scientists, working individually and cooperatively, are able to contribute substantially to our knowledge of U.S. biota if adequately funded, those figures were obviously much too low to serve the national interest well. New funds should be sought to support biotic surveys, inventories, and monographs directed at priority groups recognized by the NPBS. These funds should include publication and dissemination costs, which are an important part of the NPBS effort (see Chapter 3). Similar programs, using systems of peer review like those used successfully by NSF, should be implemented to the greatest extent possible by the other agencies engaged in the National Partnership.
Funding will also need to be made available for other agencies whose participation is essential to the success of the Partnership. Units whose activities are already integral parts of the national
effort in biological survey—such as the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Ocean Service, and the Forest Service—will need additional resources if they are to play the roles for which they are well suited in the overall effort. The parts of DOD oriented to biological survey will likewise need additional resources to become full partners in the NPBS, and these resources must be sought in future budget cycles. The roles of the above agencies with respect to the National Partnership should be clearly established as an official part of their missions. For such organizations as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, however, which have extensive land-management and permitting responsibilities and large cadres of biologists, appropriate steps should be taken to allow them to address directly the needs of the NPBS in the future; the national welfare clearly makes such a mandate highly desirable. Future funding needs for the other agencies should be carefully assessed within the framework of the NPBS. There also should be opportunities to use existing resources more efficiently and effectively through better integration and coordination.
RELATIONSHIP TO RECOMMENDATIONS OF OTHER REPORTS
Since December 1992, a number of reports on subjects relevant to this committee's work have emerged. Specifically, reports have been released by the National Research Council's Committee on Environmental Research (NRC), the Carnegie Commission on Science and Technology (Carnegie), and the National Commission on the Environment (NCE); and the Committee on the National Institute for the Environment (CNIE) has continued to evolve its ideas. The proposals from those groups bear on the recommendations in this report. In addition, the new national administration and Congress have been active in proposing or implementing changes. Those activities are reviewed briefly to place our report in context.
There is a strong concordance among the reports of NRC, Carnegie, NCE, and CNIE in analyzing the problems that face environmental research. All recognize the need for leadership at the highest levels of government, the need for a national strategy, and the need for coordination of efforts among the many agencies performing environmental research. All emphasize the need for a status and trends program and for improvements in information-gathering and handling in government. All those are also key recommendations of the present committee.
The reports differ, however, in the means that they propose for organizing the effort to solve the problems. CNIE proposes the formation of a National Institute for the Environment. Carnegie and NCE vest the Office of Environmental Quality and EPA with substantial responsibilities. NRC emphasizes the importance of cultural changes, such as a focus on long-term studies and creation of a National Environmental Council, that would be implemented whether departments were left as is or a suggested Department of the Environment were established. The implementation of any of the broad-scale recommendations in the other reports could affect the utility of some of the specific recommendations in this one. However, this committee believes that the broad needs, functional requirements, and recommendations made here would not be affected. A strong National Partnership, with a key central role for the National Biological Survey, will remain essential for understanding the current state of the nation's biological resources, how that state is changing, and the causes of those changes.