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308.74 – USGS Fundamental Science Practices Advisory Council



Issuance Number:      308.74

Subject:                         USGS Fundamental Science Practices Advisory Council

Issuance Date:             2/10/2022

Expiration Date:          2/3/2025

Responsible Office:     Office of the Director

Instruction:  This revises Survey Manual (SM) chapter 308.75, dated April 24, 2012, to include a name change from Committee to Council, update functions and reporting structure, and expand the number of Co-Chairs.

Approving Official:      /s/ Roseann Gonzales-Schreiner

                                         Deputy Director for Administration and Policy


1.    Purpose and Scope.  

A.  This chapter serves as the Charter for the Fundamental Science Practices Advisory Council (FSPAC), originally established in January 2009.  The updates include a name change from Committee to Council, and modifications to its purpose, functions, and membership regarding FSPAC’s role in implementation of USGS Fundamental Science Practices (FSP).

B.  The purpose of the FSPAC is to help ensure best practices for how USGS science is planned, conducted, and disseminated in accordance with USGS FSP policy and guidance. The FSPAC is the Bureau’s standing Council tasked to provide advice and recommendations to USGS leadership and others regarding FSP.  The FSPAC develops new FSP policy and guidance, serves in an advisory role to the entire Bureau, and proposes modifications to existing policy and guidance for consideration by the USGS Executive Leadership Team (ELT) in carrying out the USGS mission.  The FSPAC also responds to ELT requests for development of new, or modification of existing, policy and guidance related to FSP.  The FSPAC is an internal USGS advisory body—it is not a formal committee convened under the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

C.  FSP requirements apply to all aspects of Bureau scientific processes—from planning research studies to release of the resulting scientific information products as defined in SM 502.1.  A list of all FSP and related policies is available.

2.    Functions.  The FSPAC provides recommendations and guidance to USGS managers and employees to resolve FSP and related issues to help ensure that the Bureau continues to produce high-quality, objective science information products.  The Council charge and responsibilities include the following: 

A.  Serves as the authoritative body for USGS leadership, scientists, and other employees on FSP policy and procedures.

B.  Receives special FSP topic assignments from the ELT through the FSPAC Co-Chairs and develops recommendations for solutions.  FSPAC also independently addresses other topics it determines are needed.

C.  Reviews all Bureau science-related policies to:

(1)  ensure compliance and consistency with FSP requirements,

(2)  avoid recommending or advocating a prescribed public policy, and

(3)  ensure policies are free of political interference or outside influence.

D.  Develops, recommends, and fosters the implementation of FSP policies.

E.  Develops and maintains guidance and procedures that supplement FSP requirements on the internal FSP website and the public FSP website.  This content is reviewed on a continuing basis and updated as necessary in support of the USGS mission.

F.  Addresses questions, concerns, and issues sent to GS-FSPAC by managers, scientists, and others regarding FSP, and develops recommendations for resolution.

G.  Recommends or develops mechanisms for communications and training to increase broad awareness and understanding of FSP.

H.  Promotes close coordination across the Bureau, as appropriate, so that USGS, Department of the Interior and other Federal requirements are factored into recommendations and decisions.

I.  Develops FSPAC subcommittees to address FSP topics as needed.

3.    Membership.

A.  FSPAC membership is deliberately broad to benefit from various perspectives across the Bureau.  Three USGS executives Co-Chair the FSPAC.  The USGS Chief Scientist serves as a permanent Co-Chair.  An Associate Director (AD) and a Regional Director (RD) serve 3-year-minimum Co-Chair terms, which are staggered to preserve continuity.  Membership of the Council includes Science Center Directors; scientists; a Bureau Approving Official; and a Publishing Manager.  FSPAC members are nominated by ELT members or FSPAC members, with concurrence by their supervisor and the FSPAC Co-Chairs.  FSPAC members are selected for their expertise in specific functional areas.  The FSPAC AD and RD Co-Chairs are also appointed by the ELT.  

B.  FSPAC members serve minimum terms of 2 or 3 years, staggered for continuity; however, the members may be reappointed to serve extended or subsequent terms or members rotating out of a position may recommend a replacement, with majority concurrence of FSPAC membership and respective ELT members.  Membership is reviewed by the FSPAC every 2 years and adjusted as needed to maintain optimum expertise and participation.

4.    Subcommittees.  The FSPAC oversees both permanent and ad hoc subcommittees who work under the Council to address specific FSP related topics or issues.  Subcommittees have a lead or co-leads appointed by FSPAC or the subcommittee members.  Subcommittee members may be within FSPAC or subject matter experts outside the FSPAC and represent a balanced view of the topics and issues to be addressed.  Within subcommittees, working groups may be formed to specifically focus on aspects of the subcommittee charge and these working groups report to the subcommittee leads under which they are nested.  Ad hoc subcommittees and working groups disband upon completion of their charge but may reconvene to address additional concerns arising related to the previously covered issues.

5.    Staff Support.  The USGS Office of Science Quality and Integrity (OSQI) is responsible for maintaining FSP-related policies in consultation with the ELT and FSPAC and provides infrastructural staff support to the FSPAC.  The OSQI Director appoints permanent or temporary support staff, determining their term of service.  The FSPAC Co-Chairs may appoint additional support staff as needed.

6.    Meetings.  Meetings are held monthly or at the discretion of the FSPAC Co-Chairs. Subcommittee meeting frequency is varied and arranged by the subcommittee lead or co-leads.

7.    Reporting.  The FSPAC Co-Chairs report to the ELT.

8.    Termination Date/Sunset Review.  The FSPAC is a permanent internal USGS Council with no termination date unless otherwise decided by the ELT.