April 20, 2007
Robert Gropp, Ph.D.
Director of Public Policy
American Institute of Biological Sciences
1444 I (Eye) Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20005
Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
B-308 RHOB, United States House of Representatives
The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) encourages Congress to provide the United States Geological Survey (USGS) with at least $1.2 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2008, and at least $200 million for programs of the Biological Resources Discipline.
The USGS provides independent research, data, and assessments needed by public and private sector decision-makers. A unique combination of biological, geographical, geological, and hydrological research programs enables USGS scientists to utilize innovative interdisciplinary research techniques to answer important questions. For instance, USGS data are essential to improving our understanding of climate change, including how biological and environmental systems may respond. Moreover, the USGS collects data that other federal agencies and nongovernmental scientists do not collect. We cannot afford to sacrifice this information; rather, we should increase our investments in this work.
USGS scientists work collaboratively and are vital members of the research community. Through offices and science centers located in every state and partnerships with more than 2,000 federal, state, local, tribal, and private organizations, the USGS has built the capacity to leverage additional research expertise. For example, through the Cooperative Research Units program USGS scientists are stationed at universities. This proximity to academic researchers heightens the intellectual and technical resources devoted to answering to biological and natural resource questions. Moreover, Cooperative Research Units are a vital component of our nation's education and training infrastructure; helping to develop the skills that graduate students need to become the natural resource professionals that government agencies require.
Natural resource managers demand reliable, relevant, and timely information. The Biological Informatics Program develops and applies innovative technologies and practices to the management of biological data, information, and knowledge. Increased funding for the USGS would enable the Biological Informatics Program to continue on-going activities and begin to implement initiatives that the resource management and research communities have identified as priorities. For instance, new nodes could be added to the National Biological Information Infrastructure program, allowing scientists and managers to better access and unlock the power of existing data.
Biological science programs within the USGS gather long-term data not available from other sources. This data has contributed fundamentally to our understanding of bird migratory patterns and the status and dynamics of biological populations, and it has improved our understanding of how ecosystems function. This array of research expertise not only serves the core missions of the Department of the Interior, but also contributes to management decisions made by other agencies and private sector organizations. In short, we need to increase our investments in these important research activities.
Funding for the USGS has remained flat for nearly a decade. The situation is even worse when the budget is adjusted for inflation. Despite inadequate budget requests from the present and prior Administrations, Congress has demonstrated its recognition of the importance of USGS science by restoring proposed cuts. In response, the USGS has made every effort to be responsible stewards of public funds and has sought to leverage its limited human and financial resources to the greatest extent possible.
There is growing concern from within the government and outside that funding for the USGS must improve if it is to continue to serve its mission. Without an increased investment in USGS science, core missions and national priorities will suffer. Thus, any effort that Congress can make to fundamentally improve funding for the USGS will be appreciated.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this request. If you require additional information, please contact me at 202-628-1500.