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How USGS Accomplishes The International Mission

Over the past 50 years, USGS has provided technical assistance to more than 100 countries and hosted thousands of visiting scientists. The nature of the assistance includes short- and long-term assignments both of USGS personnel to scientific projects abroad and of foreign scientists and technicians to USGS activities in the U.S.

The USGS Office of International Programs accomplishes the international mission of USGS in four main subject areas.


Global Science

The USGS Office of International Programs supports activities that enable USGS scientists to contribute to efforts to address global scientific, natural resource, and environmental issues by:

  • Developing global reference data sets for use by scientists investigating regional and global environmental trends;
  • Conducting studies of historic climatic and ecological changes in the geologic record to help understand the likely consequences of future climate change in ecosystems at different latitudes; and
  • Representing the U.S. Government in organizations such as the World Meteorological Organization and the International Hydrologic Program.


Fundamental Domestic Missions

The USGS Office of International Programs supports activities that improve the effectiveness of USGS and other federal agencies in carrying out their fundamental domestic missions by: 

  • Obtaining scientific knowledge, insights, and data needed by domestic programs, such as knowledge of hydrologic, geologic, and biologic systems as well as mapping, remote sensing, and GIS technologies;
  • Coordinating studies to support increased cooperation in managing migratory species (including migratory birds, fish, Arctic mammals, sea turtles), non-native invasive species, and shared (transboundary) ecosystems;
  • Participating in international scientific professional societies; and
  • Adding to the knowledge and skills base of USGS scientists.


Foreign Policy and National Security 

The USGS Office of International Programs supports activities that further U.S. foreign policy and national security interests by:

  • Providing information and technical assistance in responding to catastrophic earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, and droughts in foreign countries;
  • Providing technical assistance in the assessment of ecosystems, water, energy, and mineral resources, and in the development of data and information standards and regional data-sharing networks;
  • Providing technical assistance to international organizations in documenting, managing, and integrating data and information;
  • Using scientific cooperation to create non-threatening environments to facilitate communication and negotiation among resource managers;
  • Coordinating multilateral sharing projects to ameliorate regional conflicts through the sharing of data and scientific expertise; and
  • Conducting studies to control the spread and reduce the impacts of non-native invasive plants, animals, and pathogens that have been introduced into the U.S.


Economic Competitiveness

The USGS Office of International Programs supports activities that promote the competitiveness of the U.S. private sector in the global economy by:

  • Introducing and encouraging the use of U.S. equipment and software;
  • Building regional and global databases; 
  • Encouraging foreign governments to share data on natural hazards, ecosystems, energy and mineral deposits, geology, land use, and water resources;
  • Facilitating contacts between U.S. companies and foreign counterparts; and
  • Developing and disseminating standards and procedures for data and information processing and distribution, mapping, and hydrologic and geologic data collection and processing.