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SM 800.1, International Activities and Collaboration



Issuance Number:    800.1

Subject:                          International Activities and Collaboration

Expiration Date:       4/5/2029

Responsible Office:  Office of International Programs

Instruction:                This is a new Survey Manual (SM) chapter.

Approving Official:   William L. Cunningham

                                      Director, Office of International Programs



1.     Purpose and Scope.  This SM chapter provides guidance for U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) employees regarding international science activities, collaborations, international travel, and hosting foreign visitors. 

2.    Authority.  Authorities allowing USGS participation in international science activities and collaborations include but are not limited to the following:

A.  The Act of September 5, 1962 (76 Stat.427; 43 United States Code (U.S.C.) 31(b)) authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, exercised through the USGS, to formally carry out international activities. 

B.  National Environmental Policy Act, Section 102, (42 U.S.C. 4332(F)) authorizes Federal agencies to lend appropriate support to programs that maximize international cooperation in preventing a decline in the quality of the world environment, when consistent with United States (U.S.) foreign policy. 

C.  The Foreign Assistance Act (FAA):

(1)  Section 2357 of Title 22 (Section 607a of the FAA) authorizes any U.S. agency, upon approval of the Agency for International Development (USAID), to furnish services to friendly countries, international organizations, and voluntary organizations, on an advance of funds or reimbursable basis.

(2)  Section 2357 of Title 22 (Section 607a of the FAA) authorizes any U.S. agency, upon approval of USAID, to furnish services to friendly countries, international organizations, and voluntary organizations, on an advance of funds or reimbursable basis.

(3)  Sections 2387-2390 of Title 22 (Sections 627-630 of the FAA) authorize any agency to assign, detail, or otherwise make available its employees to a foreign government or international organization. 

(4)  Section 2392 (Section 632 of the FAA) authorizes USAID to transfer funds to any U.S. agency for the procurement of commodities or services in order to provide assistance in foreign countries.

(5)  Section 302 (Special FAA of 1986, Assistance to Preserve Biological Diversity (22 U.S.C. 2151q)) authorizes assistance to other countries to protect and maintain wildlife habitat and to develop sound wildlife management and plant conservation programs.

D.  Annexes I and II of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was signed by the U.S. on June 12, 1992, and ratified by the U.S. on October 15, 1992.  The purpose of the Framework Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. 

E.  Convention to Combat Desertification, ratified by the U.S. in 2000, is intended to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid lands throughout the world through effective action at all levels.

F.  Examination of geological structure, mineral resources, and products outside national domain (43 U.S.C. 31(b)), authorizes USGS to “examine the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain” in areas “outside the national domain where determined by the Secretary to be in the national interest.”  This authority enables USGS, in conjunction with the international authorities on supplies of goods and services, to craft cooperative agreements with international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) or arrangements with Foreign Government Entities to carry out mutually beneficial projects within the scope of the USGS mission to assess and study the national domain.  These include, for example, projects establishing and maintaining earthquake monitoring stations, mapping of hydrological resources, mapping of mineral deposits and (or) vegetative changes, and monitoring effects of climate change.

G.  Collection, Evaluation and Analysis of Information Concerning Mineral Occurrence, Production, and Use (30 U.S.C. 1601-1605), emphasizes the Department of the Interior’s (DOI’s) responsibility, as a “responsible department,” to assess the mineral resources of the Nation.  The provisions also require the President to coordinate departmental and agency promotion of cooperative research and development programs with other nations for the equitable and frugal use of materials and energy; promotion and encouragement of private enterprise in the development of economically sound and stable domestic materials industries; and facilitation of the availability and development of domestic resources to meet critical materials needs.

H.  Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 (42 U.S.C. 7704(b)(3)), directs the USGS to conduct earthquake-related research focused on the assessment of earthquake hazards and risks, monitoring of seismic activity, and improvement of earthquake predictions.  As part of its research efforts, the Director of the USGS operates a forum for international exchange of earthquake information.  Additionally, the USGS has the authority, working with other agencies, to coordinate activities with earthquake hazards reduction efforts in other countries to ensure that U.S. earthquake hazard reduction efforts benefit from relevant information and advances in those countries. 

I.  Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (16 U.S.C. 703-712) allows USGS to conduct global investigations needed to inform the conservation of migratory birds protected under the Act and related disease transmission across international borders.

J.  Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544) allows USGS to conduct global investigations necessary to inform DOI resource management decisions and recovery planning for protected fauna and flora.

K.  International Participation in Scientific, Technical, and Cultural Activities (22 U.S.C. 2451-2460), Sections of the State Department’s Mutual Education and Cultural Exchange Program, authorize U.S. representation at international non-governmental scientific and technical meetings, permit U.S. Government agencies to accept foreign nationals for training or other meetings in and out of the U.S., and permit interchanges with other countries of scientists and experts in environmental science and management with approval of the Department of State.

L.  Assignment of Government Employees to Requesting Countries, Use of Facilities and Personnel of Other Governments, and Provision of Technical and Other Services to Foreign Governments (22 U.S.C. 1451, 1456 and 1457), authorizes the Department of State to assign for service, at a foreign government’s request, U.S. Government employees who have special scientific and technical qualifications; the Department of State to use services, facilities, and personnel of other government agencies on a reimbursable basis; and a government agency to perform technical or other services for the government of another country upon terms satisfactory to the Department of State and the head of the government agency.

M.  Detail of Personnel to International Organizations (5 U.S.C. 3343, Pub. L. No. 85-795), The Federal Employees International Organization Service Act, authorizes the head of an agency to detail an employee to an international organization for a period of up to 5 years, extendable for up to an additional 3 years under special circumstances. 

N.  The Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 and U.S. Presidential Decision Directive/National Science and Technology Council-3, as amended on October 16, 2000, authorizes the USGS to establish a fee structure to enable it to administer all operations in support of a global network of cooperating ground receiving stations for direct reception of data from the Landsat missions.

3.    References.  

A.  USGS Financial Operating Procedures (FOP), Chapter 4, Accepting Funds from Outside the U.S. Geological Survey (various sections including 4.12 International Agreements; 4.3 Federal Agreements; 4.4 Standard and Non-Standard Joint Funding Agreements; 4.15 Non-Federal Travel Agreement).

B.  USGS FOP, Chapter 26, Travel (section 6: Sponsoring Foreign Visitor(s))

C.  SM 205.13, Delegations of Authority to Enter into Agreements and to Accept Contributions

D.  SM 500.2, Policy on Work for Non-Federal Agencies

E.  SM 500.3, Policy on Work for Other Federal Agencies

4.    Policy.  

A.  Any international activities and collaboration with a partner outside of the USGS that is not initiated by the Office of International Programs (OIP) must be communicated to OIP, preferably in advance of USGS participation in the activity or collaboration. OIP Regional Science Advisors can then advise on any existing or potential synergies with ongoing work or on any U.S. Government restrictions to collaborations, such as whether USGS staff can serve as co-authors on a publication or attend meetings with specific partners.

B.  Activities must be compatible with the USGS mission, support scientific understanding, and not adversely affect the scientific integrity of the USGS.  

C.  Activities must not compromise established USGS policies, procedures, or protocols.

D.  An international agreement must be in place before entering into any reimbursable activities with international partners.  The agreement must be signed by both the USGS and the collaborating partner in accordance with SM 205.13, Appendix A. 

E.  All international travel for official government business must be coordinated with OIP’s Branch of International Science Support (BISS).  A Foreign Travel Certification (DI-1175 form) must be completed for all international travel.  The DI-1175 must be submitted at least 60 but no more than 180 days prior to travel to all countries except Canada and Mexico, which require DI-1175 submittal at least 15 days prior to travel.  Limited exceptions exist to the deadline for DI-1175 submittal, such as for travel to respond to international emergencies.  All USGS international travelers must obtain an Official Passport, an approved DI-1175, Department of State Electronic Country Clearance (eCC), and any other destination-specific approvals through OIP before departing for travel. 

5.    Definitions.  

A.  Partners Outside of the USGS.  These include other U.S. Federal Government agencies; state and local government agencies; foreign governments; foreign NGOs; multilateral and intergovernmental organizations (for example, development banks such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank; the United Nations and its various agencies; World Organization for Animal Health); universities; any other NGOs; and both the U.S. and international private sector businesses.   

B.  Other Sovereigns.  For the purposes of international activities and collaborations, this term means any country other than the United States and international organizations recognized by the Department of State.  

C.  International Activities and Collaborations.  These include but are not limited to the following: 

(1)  Any activities or collaborations resulting in reimbursable funding and international agreements such as a Memorandum of Understanding, Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, and Technical Assistance Agreement. 

(2)  Any activities providing, coordinating, and (or) facilitating technical advice and support to other U.S. Government agencies to help them meet their international program objectives; and any activities providing coordinating and facilitating technical advice to any foreign government, multilateral or intergovernmental organization, NGO, and (or) business. 

(3)  Any data-sharing activities either relating to a territory outside of the U.S. or with foreign partners. 

(4)  Any activities representing the USGS and its Director and Deputy Director(s) internationally. 

(5)  Any activities to identify, prioritize, or develop key international opportunities that support domestic and global science goals and address U.S. Government priorities.

(6)  Any activities relating to detailee assignments between the USGS and foreign partner(s) outside of the USGS to support U.S Government priorities and USGS science objectives.

(7)  Any activities that expand engagement with U.S. Government, foreign government, and international NGOs.

(8)  Co-authoring a paper with an international partner.

6.    Responsibilities.  Responsibilities for international activities and collaboration with any partner outside of the USGS, all international travel conducted for business purposes, and hosting foreign visitors are as follows:

A.  International activities and collaboration with a partner outside of the USGS.  Regional Directors, Associate Directors, Office Chiefs, and Science Center Directors are responsible for ensuring their employees comply with all applicable USGS mandates or requirements in addition to the guidance set forth in this SM chapter, including making an OIP Science Advisor aware of their international collaborations so OIP can advise on existing or potential synergies with ongoing work or on any U.S. Government restrictions to collaborations. 

B.  International agreements. 

(1)  For agreements with other sovereigns, OIP has the responsibility for overseeing the drafting, approval, and implementation of any agreements with another sovereign partner.

(2)  For interagency agreements, the home Science Center/Office of the USGS employee engaging with the U.S. Federal Government agency has the responsibility for handling all necessary actions related to the interagency agreement unless previously arranged with OIP.

(3)  For all other agreements, the USGS Office of Policy and Analysis is responsible for agreements that do not fall under the category of ‘other sovereign’ or ‘interagency agreements.’

C.  Reimbursable projects.  Reimbursable projects are generally managed by the home Science Center/Office of the USGS employee leading the collaboration unless otherwise arranged with OIP.  The home Science Center/Office is responsible for all project management and financial activities for the reimbursable project including entering the information into Budget and Science Information System Plus (BASIS+) and Financial and Business Management System (FBMS), handling all suballocations, working with the Office of Accounting and Financial Management for all financial responsibilities including all billing actions, and handling all travel authorizations, bookings, and vouchers for any travel related to the project.

D.  International travel. 

(1)  Associate Directors, Regional Directors, Office Chiefs, and Science Center Directors are responsible for ensuring their employees comply with all guidance set forth in this SM chapter.  They are also responsible for ensuring that all expenses for international travel are covered.

(2)  The USGS employee traveling internationally is responsible for the following:

(a)  Completing the Foreign Travel Certification (DI-1175 form) with all requirements set forth in the form for international travel.

(b)  Working with OIP to obtain and renew an Official Passport, which is required for international travel for official government business.

(c)  Working with OIP to obtain any necessary visas or other State Department and (or) country-specific approvals for travel.

(d)  Working with OIP to obtain Medevac insurance prior to official international travel.

(e)  Clearing any payments from outside sources with the USGS Ethics Team, Departmental Ethics Office, and/or Office of the Solicitor. 

(f)  Complying with all Federal and USGS information technology (IT) requirements for taking government furnished equipment (GFE) on international travel as determined by the office of the Associate Chief Information Officer, including coordinating with the appropriate servicing IT support office prior to and upon returning from travel before reconnecting to the USGS network.

(g)  Completing any State Department requirements for security awareness training.

(h)  For travelers with an active security clearance, coordinating with the USGS Security Office prior to the trip and upon return.

(i)  Complying with any USGS and DOI requirements to obtain advance approval to attend international conferences or conference-like events. 

(3)  The USGS employee and the respective home Science Center/Office are responsible for booking the travel, and for completing the travel authorization and travel voucher.

(4)  OIP is responsible for the following:

(a)  Assisting the USGS employee in obtaining or renewing an Official Passport and any necessary visas.

(b)  Obtaining eCC prior to travel departure. 

(c)  Assisting with the DI-1175 form; providing USGS travel approvals and coordinating with the Department to secure DOI approval.

(d)  Ensuring USGS international travelers comply with all State Department requirements, including Official Passports, Security Training, Medevac insurance, and any country-specific policies, procedures, and requirements.

E.  Hosting foreign visitors.

(1)  OIP is responsible for working with a USGS host to obtain an Exchange Visitor (J-1) Non-Immigrant Visa for foreign visitors to participate in work- and study-based exchange visitor programs in the U.S.  The J-1 Visa provides a legal framework for the USGS to invite foreign visitors to visit USGS facilities to participate in research, hold discussions, or carry out other aspects of projects. 

(2)  The USGS host and the respective home Science Center/Office are responsible for managing all other aspects of invitational travel by foreign visitors, including obtaining visas outside the J-1 Visa program, arranging travel, preparing travel authorizations and public vouchers, complying with all USGS security requirements to allow foreign visitors’ access to government facilities, and coordinating with the USGS Office of Accounting and Financial Management to pay for any part of a foreign visitor’s travel expenses.   

(3)  The USGS Office of Accounting and Financial Management, Travel Management Section, is responsible for administering applications for and issuing a Declining Balance Sponsor Card for a USGS host to pay for a foreign visitor’s travel expenses (where appropriate) and auditing and reconciling public vouchers and Sponsor Card transactions related to foreign visitor travel (USGS FOP, Chapter 26, Section 6).


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