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2006 Customer Listening Session: Conclusion

In general, the customers at the listening session expressed support for the purposes behind USGS's science strategy, acknowledging that USGS cannot pursue every important topic and supporting the Survey's approach to strategically select priority areas.Participants emphasized investing in a strategic way across disciplines and programs, thinking in terms of such cross-cutting themes as the need to strengthen predictive/modeling tools, improving methods and the "cyber-infrastructure" for integrating information across multiple temporal and spatial scales, supporting innovation both in science and in society (e.g., new and emerging technologies), and the importance of baseline information and long-term data sets. USGS should also consider strategic investments in its workforce and infrastructure that support cross-cutting priorities.

Participants did not raise significant problems or gaps with the science questions, focusing instead more on the criteria for USGS to consider when making strategic choices among them. Some participants suggested that these questions could be refined to be more appropriate to USGS priorities and unique role.

At the close of the session, USGS executive leadership and the SST reflected on the key messages USGS heard throughout the day from the customers and stakeholders and noted that the conversation mirrored many of the Survey's internal discussions about strategic choices. They acknowledged comments about the importance of baseline data, long-term data sets and asking questions that reflect an understanding of geologic time for energy, water and ecosystem needs, while also hearing the need for strong, integrative research and analysis capabilities and science that provides new understanding applicable to solving societal issues. Specific examples included water for ecosystem needs, predicting and getting ahead of invasive species problems, forecasting of ecological outcomes, and supporting new and emerging energy technologies with the science both behind making them work and understanding their ecosystem impacts.The team also heard suggestions that the USGS leverage its role as an independent science agency, increasing its attention to improving methods for forecasting possible environmental outcomes, presenting information in ways usable to decision makers, and focusing on what other agencies do not do. They heard many comments around the challenge of the interconnectedness of science and how to take advantage of that for addressing societal needs. Finally, the importance of partnerships with a variety of other agencies and organizations was also noted as a strong message to USGS.

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