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SPECIAL UPDATE: President's FY 2005 Budget Request
Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

(Posted 3-15-04)


This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.

IN A NUTSHELL: Under the FY 2005 budget request recently submitted by the Bush Administration, funding for the U.S. Geological Survey would decline 1.9% or $18.2 million. USGS currently receives $938.0 million, which would drop to $919.8 million for the 2005 fiscal year.

In a budget document USGS Director Charles Groat stated: "In FY 2005, we will put emphasis on providing science to help meet other DOI bureaus' natural resource management needs and on the President's Management Agenda. Our efforts for 2005 will focus on water availability and invasive species, as well as our response to natural hazards, all of which are issues of critical importance to land and resource managers and to all Americans. We will continue to provide timely, objective scientific information to other Federal agencies, state and local partners and stakeholders to address critical societal issues. We will also enhance activities associated with financial management and information technology security."

USGS has released an outline of its FY 2005 budget request categorized by activity/subactivity/program element that can be viewed at http://www.usgs.gov/budget/2005/fy05_pres_budget_request.html.

Below is a discussion of funding levels important to the geosciences. Note that while almost all of the accounts decline, the USGS proposes a new line item called Enterprise Information for which $45.2 million is requested. The line item "consolidates funding of all bureauwide information functions (technology, management, and service) that were previously distributed among several USGS office and budget structure items." Since this new structure represents, to varying degrees, changes in program activity, it cannot be determined how actual funding for each program might change.

Department of the Interior (DOI):

Total funding request for the Department of the Interior (DOI) comes to $11 billion, a 2.8% increase from the FY2004 funding level and the "largest presidential request in the Department's history". Among the agency's priorities is supporting cooperative conservation, accelerating Indian trust reform, reforming the Abandoned Mine Lands program, implementing the Healthy Forests Initiative, addressing the National Park Service's maintenance backlog and enhancing the education of American Indian children.

Funding for the Minerals Management Service (MMS) is up just about 5% for a total requested level of $179 million. The Outer Continental Shelf Resource Evaluation program is also up 5% to $146.1 million.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has requested $1.7 billion, a 2% cut from last year's allocation. Funding for BLM energy and mineral programs has decreased 3% from last year's allocation, giving a total of $104 million for these activities. However, the leasing of gas fields will raise an additional $4.0 million in revenue, keeping the total budget at the 2004 enacted level.

The National Park Service (NPS) is slated for an increase of just under 5%, for a total request of $2.4 billion. Resource stewardship geologic resources funding within NPS will stay the same at $2.7 million. Within this account, NPS budget documents outline a monitoring program for water quality in the parks and an "inventory and monitoring program for park vital signs" which will increase 8% to $41 million. Also with the resource stewardship account is the water quality monitoring program that will see a 5% increase to $12.6 million.

More information on the DOI budget request is available at http://www.doi.gov/budget/toc.html.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS):

Looking at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as a whole, almost every major program area has had funding decreases, and the FY 2005 budget represents a step backward from FY 2004 levels. The total request is $920 million, down 2.5% from the FY 2004 level of $944 million.

In all cases, the many increases and decreases described here do not take into account the uncontrollable costs (salaries, maintenance, etc.) that increase each year and cut into funds available for actual program activities. This year there have been reductions across many programs, and targets some specific programs such as mineral resources (down almost $7 million) and cooperative topographic mapping (down $3 million). USGS Director Charles (Chip) Groat told EOS that "We are not seeing the big program gashes that we had before." Groat attributes this change partly to better internal management and information technology improvements. The budget winners were water availability, invasive species and natural hazards. The Enterprise Information budget, a new program for FY05, would receive funding from each division of the agency to total $45 million, and will consolidate funding for technology, management and information throughout the agency.

Geologic Programs
Overall, geologic programs would receive $220.8 million, a 5% decrease from last year's enacted level. In addition to cutting funds for mineral resource assessments and seismic networks as described below, the request also calls for the survey's energy resources program to use existing funds to provide scientific information regarding methane hydrates to the Minerals Management Service.

The biggest hit in the geologic discipline goes to the Mineral Resources Program, which would receive a $7 million decrease after flat funding last year. The FY 2004 request would have cut $9.1 million from the program, but funding was restored by Congress in the final budget. The proposed cuts transfer over $3 million to the new enterprise information budget and an $11 million reduction for earmarks.

The Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) will be funded at a flat rate from FY04 appropriation, in contrast to the $2 million cut requested in last year's presidential budget. The program has never come close to the funding levels called for in the last reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP). That legislation, signed into law in November 2000, authorized $170 million over five years.

Water Programs
Overall, water programs would receive $202.7 million, still down 6.2% from last year's allocation. The Water Resources Research Institutes, which were zeroed out in the president's FY 2003 and FY 2004 requests would be cut again by $6.4 million this year. The water resources program would also receive $1 million for research into the water quality in the Klamath basin

The National Water-Quality Assessment program requested an increase of $200,000, its first increase since FY 1999. The Ground Water Resources Program would increase by $800,000 for a water availability and use initiative. The Toxic Substances Hydrology Program would decline by $518,000 to $12.64 million, which is far less drastic than last year when cutbacks were proposed and a transfer of what remained to the National Science Foundation.

Mapping Programs
Overall, mapping programs would receive $118.9 million, down 7.8% from last year's allocation. The budget request includes an $8.6 million transfer to the Enterprise Information program and a $1.9 million decrease for the National Map a program to create a comprehensive geographic information data base which incorporates elevation data, orthophotography, hydrology and other information. According to EOS, National Map program director Barbara Ryan said "that cut arrests the development of the National Map."

Biological Programs
Biology is also marked for a small decrease from last year's allocation. Totaling $167.6 million, biology programs would receive increases for finding solutions and assisting the mitigation of biological resource problems facing Federal agencies and State, local and tribal governments. The budget proposes transferring $2.9 million to the Enterprise Information program and a $2.8 million reduction in fire science. Some of the fire science programs will be funded by the Wildland Fire Management account.

To keep up-to-date with the latest information about how Congress plans to fund these programs within the Department of the Interior, click on http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_interior.html.

Special update prepared by Emily M. Lehr, AGI Government Affairs Program and Gayle Levy, AGI/AAPG 2004 Spring Semester Intern.

Sources: Agency budget documents, American Institute of Physics, Environment and Energy Daily, Greenwire, The Washington Post

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted March 15, 2004


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