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Conversation with Customers
Executive Summary

...there is a need to place such common resources as water, land, and air on a higher plane of value and to assign them a kind of respect...for no one species such as the Homo sapiens is any more deserving, any more entitled to dominate, than other species, for all are part of the total web. -- Aldo Leopold

Future Science Directions

In listening to its customers, the USGS heard an endorsement of the future science directions that it had set forth -- but that endorsement poses significant challenges, in that each of the directions is in itself a major effort for which customers see extensive science needs. While it was reassuring to hear the widespread endorsement of the science directions that the USGS sees in its future, it was also sobering to realize the breadth to which the science reaches and the incredible demands that need to be met to serve society's needs.

The future science directions that had been used as the framework for the listening sessions were heard in the conversations of every one of our customers. The majority of them spoke to more than one of these directions as being "right on track," raising issues that needed to be addressed or questions that needed to be answered. The fact that many customers endorsed more than one of these topics -- and showed us linkages between them -- tells us that these are the "right track" for our science.

In refining our science directions, we have kept the same major themes and have only modified them slightly, to focus chiefly on earthquakes, rather than the broad spectrum of "hazards," and folding flood concerns into "rivers." Additionally, although there is not a separate direction for "environment and human health," issues related to this topic are dealt with in the context of several of the future science directions. Similarly, while "living resources" is not a stand-alone future science direction, the biological issues that were identified by many of our customers are incorporated into the other science directions and, in a sense, embody the reaction of many customers that living resources should be looked at not as a discrete direction but rather as part of every aspect of our scientific investigations.

Customers also agreed that the challenges have never been greater for linking societal and policy questions with scientifically based answers. Many stressed the need to have science, technology, and information in all of their rich linkages employed in the development of sound management decisions and effective public policy.

Landscape as Metaphor

The metaphor of landscape was used frequently by customers as a way in which to frame the science issues that face the Nation. Whether they used watershed, ecosystem, environment, or some other construct of the natural world, each stressed the need to look at the landscape as a whole and to address the myriad possibilities and challenges of the resources, processes, and interactions within. Two interesting uses of this metaphor were the idea of the problems associated with the fragmented landscape that we have created as a society -- in how we have divided public and private lands, or the encroachment of human habitat on that of non-human communities, or even the disconnects between Federal and non-Federal roles in dealing with the natural world -- and the promise of a functional landscape in which people, species, and resources interact in ways that ensure the continued -- and perhaps improved -- functioning of the landscape and that heal the fragmentation. How we view, how we use, how we study, how we manage the landscape can all serve as the context in which the USGS conducts science for a changing world. The landscape is the laboratory in which we will answer society's scientific questions.

Customers spoke as well to other types of landscapes in telling us about ourselves. They talked in terms of how we are spread geographically across the landscape of this country, a pattern that we should use to its maximum advantage. Customers endorsed the concept of place-based studies, in which varied scientific expertise is brought to bear on scientific issues and problems "on the ground" where it is needed. We were encouraged to get involved regionally and locally on the landscape and to find mutually beneficial partnerships with States, commissions, communities, and local society chapters. USGS can also bring greater understanding of science and its uses to those in allied professions that need the science but may need assistance in applying the science to their particular field or responsibility. The field of adaptive management was cited as one where land and resource managers and planners may not have scientific expertise and could use the help of USGS in developing science-based protocols for management. Science can also be an aid in those organizations that have an operational focus, which could be made more efficient and effective by having science and data to improve and drive their operations. The USGS should engage as well across the political and organizational landscape. Many customers encouraged us to leverage resources, interests, and assistance with trade associations and professional societies. These organizations see themselves as allies, willing partners, and effective communication links to their memberships and also to the political process at all levels of government.

The USGS also has tremendous potential in its discipline landscape, as many customers told us. The endorsement of a more integrated approach to USGS science, to finding effective ways to build bridges and linkages between and among the many discipline strengths of the USGS, was echoed in almost every customer's comments. Customers see a need to bring the disciplines and the range of expertise in those disciplines together in ways that develop skills in synthesizing scientific data and information and to bring what are currently disparate data and research together in a synergistic fashion that provides the science for livable and sustainable communities. Better integration across the organizational landscape was also addressed by many customers who see disconnects between USGS offices and divisions in how work was handled and costs administered. Many customers want to know that they are dealing with the USGS as a whole, not with fragmented parts of the organization. Additional comments on issues related to USGS people resources are addressed later in this summary.

Coasts

Looking at comments on specific future science directions, the Nation's coasts were at the top of many people's lists. Interestingly, many people spoke at the same time of coasts and hazards -- not only of the disasters of coastal storms and hurricanes, but also hazards to marine life and other resources from development, commercial endeavors, and the threat of pollutants from upstream sources far from the coasts themselves. Several customers raised the issues of beach replenishment and restoration, and it is clear that the question of "restored to what" needs additional scientific attention. Replenishment of coastline beaches is an issue of resource availability as well as societal choice and environmental implications. As populations in coastal areas continue to grow, customers see an ever-increasing role for science in dealing with the consequent impacts on natural and living resources, as well as a need for a better understanding of the processes and influences of coastal environments.

Ecosystems

In some form, all customers addressed the concept of ecosystems, whether they used the exact word or not. Sustainability was a much-used idea: Sustainable habitats that support a healthy diversity of species, sustainable resources that provide for healthy people and healthy economies, and sustainable policies that provide decisions and legislation for a healthy society, were all addressed by customers. The USGS was cautioned to view living resources not as a discrete component, but rather as part of every project undertaken. A new approach was called for in planning, designing, and carrying out human activities on an ecologically sound basis that emphasizes the prevention of impacts on the resource base. The many stresses to ecosystems were another focus for which integrated science was seen as the needed approach. And whatever the approach, the words "multi-species," "commonality," and "systematic" were used to reinforce the integration and synergy that must be addressed within an ecosystem. Health -- of organisms, habitats, people, the overall ecosystem -- was seen as key to the functionality of the environment. Here again, the integration of USGS disciplines can play an important role. USGS is seen as being in a unique position to articulate the growing knowledge about the interactions between hydrologic systems, the geologic processes, and the biological landscape. USGS should build and communicate the knowledge base that can be used by many customers to help them in their work and to ensure that efforts are not being duplicated.

Land Surface Change

Comments on land-surface changes were often intermingled with those on ecosystems and the call for better integration of data and effort. Ensuring that USGS data and information are being used optimally and are available in appropriately scaled formats was an issue for many customers. Specific examples include: Innovative products like the daily streamflow conditions map, and whether it communicates sufficient information for a municipality to decide to switch from a surface- to a ground-water supply in a drought; critical data sets, like the 12-digit hydrologic unit code, which is desperately needed by customers, or a national topographic base for flood models used in the building industries, or a soils data base, which is needed by agriculture, building, and emergency communities; and emerging applications, such as wind hazards, remote sensing for biological monitoring, and the next generation of GIS tools for decision-support systems. Customers would like to see management implications iterated in USGS reports and other products.

Public land management needs to be informed by solid science and long-term monitoring. Several customers stressed the important role of USGS in providing science support to the Department of the Interior land management bureaus. Those bureaus want to be seen as priority customers for USGS and stressed that while integrated science is a valuable goal, the real value exists in maintaining discipline expertise and strong program components that then constitute that integrated whole. Non-DOI customers recognized the role of USGS in providing DOI science support but want to be sure that it is coordinated and non-competing: other DOI bureaus should not do the science and monitoring that USGS can better do, and other organizations should not have to deal separately with DOI bureaus.

The need for continued and vigorous monitoring across the scientific spectrum, the integration of the monitoring data, and the application of technology to enhance the data and its utility were all seen as key directions by customers in dealing with issues in ecosystems and land-surface changes. Additional aspects of information, the USGS knowledge base, and technology are dealt with in a later section of the summary.

Changes in land use and land cover, whether it was the fragmented nature of many park holdings, the switch from agricultural to suburban use, or the heightened concerns of urbanization, were all cited as critical areas for scientific research and monitoring. Data on soils and vegetation patterns were called for. Urban issues in particular were seen as pressing, including urban hazards mapping, urban parks or parks that adjoin urban areas, artificial recharge of ground water in growth corridors, and urban coastal stresses of population and changing climate with regard to such issues as water supply and saltwater intrusion on species and crops.

Environment and Human Health

Eloquent testimony was given to the issue of public health, for which more science, conducted in a systematic manner and from which better information is gathered and available, is desperately needed. The happenstance manner in which new drugs are discovered in the natural world, for example, was cited as a call to arms for a more organized and systematic approach to handling scientific information that enables health researchers to ask questions of the data and generate answers. In turn, the health community can be an effective advocate for the value of environmental science in the public health and policy arena. Health-related stressors to the environment were cited by many customers, from animal-feeding operations, to wildlife and water-borne diseases, to emerging pathogens, to the presence of antibiotics in water resources, to new mixtures of chemical pollutants and their implications, to endocrine disruption, and climatic perturbations. The scientific knowledge that is locked away in ecosystems -- for public health, for mitigating wildlife diseases, for promoting a healthy diversity of species -- is seen as the key to opening the doorway to a sustainable and healthy future for the changing world in which we live. Early warnings from biological systems and the more sensitive organisms will enable public officials to respond in proactive ways that will be far better for human health than if they wait for problems to appear and then decide that a program was not doing what it should -- the reactive approach to human health. Healthy watersheds, healthy habitats, and healthy and diverse species, which have implications for healthy people and healthy economies, were all seen as the beneficiaries of good science.

Living Resources

Customers generally saw living resources not as a separate subject but as an integral component of all scientific investigations. One customer put it very well: "People need to be sensitized to the issue of biocomplexity -- it's not just simply the environment." Several repeated the catch phrase that the 21st century will be the "Century of Biology." The bird conservation community, in particular, was especially vocal on the role of USGS and the importance of attention being paid to non-human living resources. The migratory bird initiative is seen as an unparalleled opportunity to address many key issues, and customers felt that the time is right for the success of such an initiative -- bird issues are being seen as larger issues of environmental health and as critical biomarkers. Scientific verification and documentation of the effects of pesticides on birds is needed, as well as using that information on mitigation efforts and regulations. Water assessment and monitoring should be brought more into the broader risk assessment process and USGS water-quality information on mixtures of contaminants and metabolites is needed. Increased resources for monitoring and research are needed, especially for migratory birds for which the DOI has a stewardship responsibility. Monitoring was stressed as more than getting the counts of species right; it should also consider issues such as water quality and the effects of chronic exposures to heavy metals or organic pollutants. A second priority set forth was to look at habitat requirements as part of the monitoring effort -- using birds to monitor habitat quality and using habitat quality to monitor abundance and distribution of all species, not just birds. There also needs to be renewed partnering and integration of science support with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Gap Analysis Program (GAP) was cited as being key to thinking about not just where rare and endangered species are but also where remaining and intact functional landscapes exist. Fisheries issues also span many areas of USGS science, including rivers, ground water, coasts, habitat, and environmental health. Because of the fragmented nature of governmental agencies that have responsibilities related to fish, fish habitat, commercial fisheries, and endangered fish species, partnerships and integration of effort are seen as paramount to success in dealing this these issues. There needs to be a multi-species and systematic approach. All USGS disciplines have important roles to play. The USGS must move beyond a site-by-site approach to looking at the larger regional landscape, as well as how to measure and monitor things on a fragmented landscape. A general and impassioned cry was heard for science-based land management, especially on Federal lands; science efforts need to be integrated and coordinated among agencies -- the tasks are too critical and the resources too few for there not to be good cooperation. A strong Endangered Species Act and the protection of those species are high on many agendas. USGS is seen as playing an invaluable role in building new tools for ecological risk assessment. Translating science and its implications into management and conservation programs was cited as a critical need.

Energy

Energy -- the adequate supply of resources to meet societal needs and the associated impacts of energy development and use on the environment, species, and health -- was discussed by several customers. Effects of oil and gas development on a variety of species; implications on water quality of coal-bed methane use; polluted water and cleanup of abandoned mine lands; hydrocarbon impacts on recreational waters; the continued need for and value of USGS mineral assessments and minerals production information; energy by-products and environmental implications, such as radioactive waste disposal and heavy-metal contamination; remediation approaches that can be tested in one coal-producing area and applied to others; and the environmental information need for the relicensing of hydropower dams show the diversity of issues covered by energy. The recent USGS world energy assessment was cited as an excellent product and a reminder of the important role the USGS plays as an impartial source of information on many issues. The university community raised the issue of USGS efforts that are focused on mineral and energy assessment to the detriment of basic research. The private sector sees mineral commodity and production data as priority and primary products of USGS and an area to which adequate staff should be devoted. The USGS national geologic map data base and its widespread availability was commended and should be expanded to include international mapping data. The energy community is interested to know what USGS is doing in the area of carbon sequestration.

Ground Water

Ground water was on the minds of many customers. USGS is seen as having an important and somewhat unique role in ground water. No one else has the kind and breadth of ground-water data that USGS does. USGS should be doing the ground-water science "up front" before regulations are developed. Concern was expressed that further budget constraints might erode ground-water monitoring, which, in concert with the USGS streamgaging network, is seen as being of vital importance to the well-being of the entire country. The number of USGS monitoring wells should be increased, as should direct, if not real-time, access to that data. Ground water and surface water must be viewed as a system, rather than as separate resources, a concept borne out by the USGS publication on the same subject, which was heralded as setting a new standard. And while we may understand the relationship between surface and ground water, we do not fully understand the implications of that relationship. Using watershed as an approach in monitoring, in management, and in data gathering and presentation was frequently cited. Customers see the value in USGS water quality work, but want to see it balanced with efforts expended on water quantity and supply issues -- whether ground or surface water. New remote sensing technologies that can provide a better understanding of subsidence and other ground-water issues should be explored. Science that integrates geology and biology into ground-water issues is needed. Dealing with development issues and population growth would benefit immeasurably from mapping ground water and bedrock. Reuse of ground water and wastewater and the pathways for emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals raises many questions that need to be answered with science. Knowledge about pathways in karst terrains and fractured bedrock is needed, not only for the migration of contaminants but in being able to forecast water yields. More than one customer cited the need for a better understanding of karst terrains and the processes both under the surface and on the surface. Animal feeding operations, ground water in drought, fractured bedrock studies in other locales, recharge zones for well-head protection strategies, the role of wetlands in habitat and species diversity and health -- were all mentioned as issues or places where USGS and its ground water science expertise were needed. Socioeconomic issues of the value of water in society, which relates to both ground and surface water, was raised as a potential subject for greater USGS involvement and collaborative investigations.

Rivers

The USGS streamgaging network and its many uses were singled out by many customers as one of the most valuable efforts and products of the USGS. Many expressed concern about any further erosion to the streamgaging network and voiced support for reinstating stations or bringing new stations online. Customers also expressed their wish to be involved in making decisions on the selection of new streamflow-gaging stations and the reactivation of others. Cooperative work on delineation of hydrologic unit codes to the finer scale was cited as critical to having a common set of watersheds to track what is happening on the landscape. Streamflow and river-based information was cited as important to flood and flood mapping efforts, to quantifying water yield from national forests and grasslands, to snow surveys, to riparian issues, to contamination transport, to climate variability studies. The recreational community emphatically endorsed USGS streamflow data as information that saves lives as well as making for a more enjoyable recreational experience, whether it is whitewater rafting, canoeing, or fishing. The recreation community also cited a need for high-quality digital elevation data along riverbanks, combined with hydrologic modeling information as a natural partnership of USGS mapping and water science, National Weather Service forecasting, and Federal Emergency Management Agency flood-plain mapping. At the coastal/land interface, information is needed about freshwater flow to estuaries, saltwater intrusion, how interbasin transfers affect fish habitat, and how changing water quality affects species health. The bird conservation community expressed interest in and a need for water quality information, as well as a better understanding of riverine environments in looking at habitat impacts and species health and diversity. All customers are looking to USGS to provide the science to inform decisionmaking about -- combinations of pesticides and their breakdown products, endocrine disruptors, pharmaceuticals, toxic contaminants and the whole broad spectrum of water-quality issues as they impact species, habitat, health, the economy, and public policy. Several customers spoke to issues regarding restoration of the biological health of the Missouri River and to the critical need for science and resources to address and resolve conflicts between environmental concerns and traditional economic activities and uses of the river. The non-governmental and governmental communities alike see rivers as an integrating component of the scientific landscape.

Hazards

If a count were to be made of the number of times any one future science direction was mentioned, hazards would be the definite winner among USGS customers. Whether it is the visibility of the subject, the way in which customers were sought for the listening sessions, or the pervasive nature of the topic, every customer spoke to some notion of hazards. Taken in its broadest definition, hazards includes not only those of geologic and atmospheric processes, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, wildfires, tsunamis, and wind; but also those where human actions and interactions exacerbate hazards such as growth in coastal, urban, and fire-prone areas. Hazards affect safety and economic issues not only of people but of plant and animal species and habitat as well. One customer said that the traditional beneficiaries of USGS hazards studies have been expanded beyond life safety issues of disaster planning and building code development to those of the pocketbooks of many millions of property owners in seismically active areas of the country. Many customers spoke of coasts and hazards in the same breath. Rapid assessments of storm damage, short-term and long-term changes in shorelines, and analyses of relative sea-level rise on shoreline response were coastal engineering issues raised as needing USGS input. Geologic mapping was seen as a critical data set underlying efforts in floods, earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes, and other environmental impacts of hazards. Economic and social impacts of the devastation on both coasts to commercial fisheries, from natural and human-caused hazards were cited. Customers told the USGS that natural hazards present a good opportunity to make the link between science and society. Several customers cited the newly formed Natural Hazards Caucus on Capitol Hill as an effective tool in this regard. Hazards are also seen as having an "advantage" in public policy in that there are hazards in every State. Several customers spoke to the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) as an effort that they supported wholeheartedly, and one which would provide critically needed ground-shaking data. An improved understanding of soils, related to ground motion, was requested. Characterizing and mapping wind hazards was cited as a need. USGS should find derivative markets for its hazards information, including the insurance, risk, and even banking industries. New technology applications, including new satellite and remote sensing tools, were called for in post-flood ecological work, hurricane wind damage, beach profiling for hurricane tracking, and impacts of fire on animal populations. Existing USGS hazards-related products and partnerships were endorsed by many customers, often in exclamatory terms, and, again, the credible, scientifically defendable nature of USGS work was cited as an asset. USGS seismic hazards maps are critical to Federal Emergency Management Agency mitigation efforts and are the basis for building codes for the entire country. The airline industry commended USGS efforts in developing systems to alert pilots and air-traffic control centers to hazards from volcanic ash. USGS work with other hazards agencies in a variety of partnership and information-supplying capacities was lauded as essential to the ability of those entities doing their jobs well. Long-term and integrated partnerships of Federal, State, and private sector interests in California related to earthquakes were mentioned in particular. Hazards are clearly seen as a mandatory future science direction of USGS.

Invasive Species

The problem of invasive species was on the mind of several key customers. The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) was seen as a critical tool in dealing with invasive species -- the need for accurate information and monitoring data. Invasive weeds and species are particularly high on the list of DOI land management agencies, as well as other Federal agencies that have a role in managing lands or waters. The threats from non-native species that customers identified included detrimental effects to wildlife and grazing animal forage, diminished visual quality, and reduced land value. Scientific information is needed on the dynamics of invasive weed populations, treatment options, site restoration, and management implications of treatment and restoration approaches. Dealing with invasive species is a priority research area in rangeland health. Prescribed fire as a tool for dealing with invasive weeds while not eliminating native species -- and whether to immediately re-seed with desirable species -- calls for more research and additional data on soils and climate. It is not just an issue of treating the known exotics, but also doing assessment work using an exotic species ranking strategy to maximize the dollars spent on invasives.

Information

Because so many customers spoke to issues related to information and information technology, we have brought these comments together in a single section. The overall topic of information was certainly one that resonated with customers. One customer expressed it as a unifying theme for the USGS. Information, data, maps, and imagery, however, were seen as tools and technology by which to accomplish the work of the major science themes, not as ends in and of themselves. It is with that pervasive and yet utilitarian view of information that customer comments have been summarized.

Information -- how to access it, how it is handled, how to communicate its availability, how to deal with the immense amounts of it available -- were all questions that customers are wrestling with. The need for an overall information infrastructure to handle the increasing amounts and increasing complexity of the data sets and information available, as well as the need for integration, interoperability, standards, metadata, etc., was a frequent appeal. The organization of biological information into a seamless integrated information environment or infrastructure was an absolute necessity for many customers and, in addition to hazards, probably brought the most number of customers to the USGS table to speak. The existing NBII and the next-generation NBII were evoked as critical tools to deal with the many issues of living resources, as well as aspects of disease and human health. Customers across the spectrum talked about information and technology issues, whether it was pulling information together in a GIS approach for a national shoreline study, digitizing museum holdings that are going untapped for lack of access, or improving river forecast models. While many customers see the Internet -- and the wonderful access to many holdings of the USGS that it has afforded -- as a great trend, they are concerned that too many organizations feel that once they have posted information on the web their job is done. The passive nature of the web -- you have to know what you want and where it is -- coupled with the vast amounts of data now available, demand that extra attention be paid to communication and information transfer. Many customers stressed that additional energy and resources need to be given to transferring and translating USGS information to customers and helping them to understand how to use and apply the science in their work. Language -- what words are chosen and the import of those words -- was given special attention by several customers. On the subject of restoration for example, it was proffered that perhaps "enhancement" would be a better, and less contentious, word. We should be careful about language, one customer said, "it should be the language that is understood by the communities that are involved and information should be distributed to a broader audience than we are accustomed." This is especially true of allied and derivative users of USGS information, who may not be trained in the same scientific disciplines, but who need scientific data to better accomplish their work in land management, in risk assessment, in engineering design, in health-related fields, in insurance, in the social sciences. USGS was cautioned not to view information as only data and technology but to remember the human component as well; information needs to be gotten back down to the ground level where it is needed, and people need help in understanding and using scientific information.

Customers see scientific information as essential to effective public policy. Many stressed the need to have science, technology, and information linked and integrated in order to make the best decisions for society's future. Getting the information into the hands of those who need it was of paramount importance to all customers. Cooperation, partnerships, and outsourcing were all offered as necessary components in dealing with the wealth of data available and the challenges of managing and communicating that wealth. The USGS cannot do it alone, nor should a Federal agency try to do it all, several customers cautioned. The private sector, as well as trade associations and professional societies, can provide value-added services.

Partnerships and Cooperation

Customers attach value to their work with the USGS. There was an almost universal call for more -- and better -- partnering and cooperation with USGS. Science support to DOI bureaus and how those bureaus are viewed as primary customers of USGS is of issue. The USGS should work to eliminate perceptions of competition with the private sector and focus on its inherently governmental role. The "value added" role of the private sector in enhancing USGS efforts should be explored. Non-government organizations, trade associations, professional societies, and other derivative markets should be investigated more fully for how partnerships and cooperative ventures might be handled. The university community would like to explore additional opportunities for working together with USGS and its workforce. And as the USGS workforce continues to age and becomes smaller, cooperation, partnering, and outsourcing, whether to the private sector or to the universities, will all be pathways to explore. In their work with USGS, cooperators want to have a say in what is done; they want to be at the table in making decisions.

USGS Workforce

The aging of the USGS workforce was raised as an issue by some customers, several of whom are facing the same graying of essential skill holders in their own organizations. The USGS was urged to find ways to take advantage of the skills and expertise of its scientific workforce before it was too late. Hiring and mentoring of young professionals by experienced staff was encouraged. Other workforce issues raised were how others conduct research grade evaluations and use customer evaluations to judge scientific productivity, rewarding scientists who get involved in planning, an ongoing OPM core competency review [not known of by USGS], and training issues. The exchange of training opportunities was suggested with other scientists coming to USGS training and USGS scientists availing themselves of such training as that in presenting expert witness testimony. Many customers cited the skill, competence, and dedication of USGS employees as being key to our success. The good reputation that USGS enjoys in the eyes of its customers is clearly the result of the day-to-day work and interactions of its workforce.

USGS Organization

The USGS should keep a focus on its core expertise and its core areas. The long-term data available from the USGS is one of its greatest assets. The quality of USGS data is its benchmark. The impartial, unbiased nature of USGS science and its consequent utility in many areas is highly valued. As one customer put it, "In contentious issues, USGS data are one thing that opposing factions can agree on." Many customers spoke in support of increased integration of the work of the USGS science disciplines. The USGS was encouraged to increase its organizational flexibility to be able to respond quickly when needs arise, such as was done in response to Hurricane Mitch. On more prosaic issues, the cost of working with USGS was echoed in several sectors -- charges for data that had been free, the high indirect costs charged to cooperators, and inconsistencies in charges.

Education

While not presented by USGS as a future science direction, several customers spoke to the need for the USGS to have a role in education. Education meant different things to different customers. Some spoke of the need to educate Congress and other policy makers on the uses of science in developing effective legislation and regulations. For others it was ensuring that the general public and the K-12 community know about the earth and life sciences through direct commitments of the USGS. Still others saw the role of USGS as providing for linkages with the educational community, whether it was the interaction of USGS scientists who are housed on university campuses, cooperation with institutes and centers on campuses, grants programs, or providing opportunities for USGS to impact the professional advancement of young scientists. Cooperation with universities, as well as with professional societies, was seen as an effective avenue to accomplishing many of these objectives. The new technologies and the integration of scientific information with other data sets are seen as another opportunity for education, from ensuring that teachers even at the high-school level are skilled in GIS, to remote-sensing applications in innovative areas, to bridging computer sciences with the physical and life sciences.


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