American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program


Minutes for the
Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee Meeting

April 9, 1997
Dallas Hyatt Regency at Reunion, Cottonbowl Room


A cover memo with action items accompanied these draft minutes.

Attendees
Jim Gibbs, Committee Chair
Louis Jacobs, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Nan Lindsley-Griffin, Association for Women Geologists
Brian Cardott, The Society for Organic Petrology
Tom Moore, Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM)
Ed Roy, AGI President
Bill Sax, Duke University Fuqua School of Business
Perry Wigley, Association of American State Geologists
Bob Cowdery, Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists
Jon Price, American Institute of Professional Geologists
Susan Landon, AGI President-Elect
HH Cheng, Soil Science Society of America
Clint Moore, American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Pete Rose, American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Dan Sarewitz, Geological Society of America
Bob Christman, National Association of Geoscience Teachers
Bill Knight, American Institute of Professional Geologists
Mike Holdaway, Mineralogical Society of America
Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs Program
Dave Applegate, AGI Government Affairs Program
Victor van Beuren, AGI Publications
John Dragonetti, AGI Government Affairs Program
Marcus Milling, AGI Executive Director

1.0 Introductions and Preliminary Business
Jim Gibbs welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked them for their attendance. Bob Cowdery announced that he will be leaving as the SIPES GAP Advisory Committee representative and will become the AAPG representative to the Member Society Council.

1.1 Approval of minutes from February 1997 meeting at AGI headquarters in Alexandria

The minutes were approved. Gibbs encouraged all present to review them, if they had not already done so, as a review of member society concerns and program activities.

1.2 Review program finances

Gibbs emphasized that program's goal is to have every society contribute. As of March 19, half of the societies have contributed, and we would like to see if we can increase that percentage. Cowdery noted that SIPES is working on making a contribution, and hopes to be able to do so. Gibbs related how the GAP staff are doing more with less.

1.3 AGI President's remarks

Jim Gibbs introduced Ed Roy, AGI President. Roy thanked the committee members for their participation in this program. The Government Affairs Program is a very important voice for geoscientists in Washington, and this gathering is essential for getting feedback from the member societies. In general, the meetings here in Dallas have been very beneficial in bringing member societies a sense of ownership. He thanked Gibbs for his strong committee leadership.

1.4 AGI Executive Director's remarks/data repository project update

Marcus Milling, AGI Executive Director, reported on the tremendous growth of AGI. In 1992, AGI had 19 member societies, and is now up to 31. AGI is pleased to have AGU re-affiliate. Additionally, the Paleontological Research Institute was elected as a member on Monday April 7. The AGI Foundation is revitalized and looking to support congressional fellows. The Foundation has organized to bring new moneys into the geoscience community and encouraged large service-sector contractors to contribute.

Milling also provided an update on the National Geoscience Data Repository System (NGDRS), a program that grew out of this advisory committee four years ago. Phase III of the project has begun with the awarding of a $1.5 million grant from DOE. Milling met with the ad hoc group on orphaned paleontological collections several days earlier and is working with them to incorporate paleo collections into the NGDRS plans. Phase III initiates data transfers and the launching of a Web-based Geotrek metadata repository. Geotrek will also be available commercially as PetroTrek to provide long-term support for the projectÕs physical transfer of data. The API Exploration Affairs Committee has released a statement in support of the project but suggested that it concentrate on rock core and cuttings first then seismic data and paper records after that. Storage space is a problem, and Milling is trying to identify a contributed facility to accommodate 3-4 million boxes of cores and cuttings in the Houston area.

Holdaway suggested that AGI could encourage companies to donate their data if there could be a six to twelve month waiting period before full public access. Milling replied that he is already involved in such discussions. Jon Price asked if AGI was continuing to seek DOE funds for FY98. Milling responded yes but is hoping to obtain long-term support from companies. Dan Sarewitz asked if there would be a nominal user fees. Milling replied yes and that it would be graduated for universities and industry. Bill Sax asked if a policy existed on what people can do with the samples. Milling also noted that AGI would not run the planned Houston repository and might not even own it.

Jim Gibbs emphasized the importance of AGI remaining financially strong; key to fund-raising; repository project directly out of this committee; program to fund congressional fellows will also come out of this committee; need more scientists in Washington

Milling noted that Government Affairs is a young program, but said wherever I go, the first thing I hear about is GAP. No program has wider support from the member societies. He also stated that GAP needs direction from the advisory committee.

Sarewitz asked if there had been any discussion with USGS Director Eaton about the data repository project. The National Research Council is beginning to gear up on a major USGS review project. The Carnegie commission will come out with brief report on environmental priorities that include data collection and preservation. The USGS can take the lead on development of a National Environmental Database and Library.

Gibbs believes AGI can handle more interns, if more funds available. Landon suggested getting interns with limited exposure to industry to spend a week with a company. Applegate noted that GAP is currently looking to expand the internship program to include semester-long internships, where interns receive credit through university programs. AGI will continue to expand the program with additional member society support.

Bill Knight provided feedback on GAP from membership as being mostly (80%) good. Lou Jacobs responded that AGI as anchor is important, to provide training of how Washington works as a service to societies. He suggested that SVP may be interested in supporting an intern based at AGI, which would be providing a service to member societies by training them on how Washington works and providing an anchor.

2.0 Report on Recent GAP Activities

David Applegate discussed recent GAP activities (For additional information, see attached monthly updates from February to April 1997):

2.1 Report on advisory committees

Following up on a request from the GAP Advisory Committee, Kasey Shewey reported on possibilities for geoscience involvement in federal advisory committees, more specifically EPA and USGS, and noted the strong presence of geoscientists on several committees. Please see the attached memo for more details. Jon Price suggested National Research Council committees, and noted NRC Board on Earth Resources Director Craig Schiffries is fighting a constant battle to have geoscientists on appropriate committees and needs external support. He also explained EPA committees have few geoscientists involved if at all. Wigley will serve on the Water Information Committee; also NAWQA Advisory Committee. He would love to see more geological representation, and is constantly trying to emphasize that geology is important to water quality studies. Holdaway commented that EPA could learn about asbestos and radon from geoscientists. Marcus questioned how can we get on agency mailing lists when they have pending appointments. Sarewitz suggested figuring out which societies have reasonably high-level people at agencies who would know.

3.0 Reports from member societies

Gibbs announced that the agenda for GAP is set by the member societies and their concerns. Christman thanked AGI for its help with Eisenhower grant. Sarewitz announced the GSA Geology & Public Policy committee will have some requests for GAP and that GAP Advisory Committee member Dave Verardo will be the new GSA fellow. He suggested that perhaps GSA and AGI could jointly fund another fellow.

Clint Moore spoke about the efforts of the AAPG Division of Professional Affairs and its Government Affairs Committee, which he chairs. They have formed an Instant Response Committee (IRC) operating over e-mail, a government affairs forum held the day before, and are also working to develop positions on issues important to professional geologists. The feedback from the forum was very helpful on what issues affect the geoscience profession. He will write to AAPG President Bob Cowdery to see if it would be possible to get executive committee approval to support two summer interns.

Cheng spoke about the plant science community interface and their active Washington presence through the AESOP group, emphasizing the need to make those connections. Professional soil scientists need to have information from the geoscience side on water quality problems and land-use issues. The congressional fellows provide a good chance to exchange information. He informed the group of a new coalition called CROPS99, focusing on research on plant sciences to build on the earlier success of animal scientists. He saw potential interaction between geoscience and plant science people, and stated that continuing the liaison is very important Gibbs responded by emphasizing the importance of working with other groups in other industries to form strategic alliances and finding ways to multiply our own activities.

Landon spoke about the Monday afternoon session on "junk science", which she chaired. It was standing-room only crowd with three foci -- fraud and deceit within profession, ill use of science in judicial process, and quality of science that goes into regulatory/ policymaking process in government. She was surprised by the high turnout.

Cowdery will find someone to come to February GAPAC meeting. He reported that before the recent National Association of Professional Landmen meeting, a separate meeting was called to form a council to look at shared issues that AGI would not want to handle, but that do affect engineers and landmen.

Jon Price spoke about GAP's assistance with AIPG's Washington fly-in. Some issues being brought forward will be AGI-wide issues as well as AIPG-specific. Bill Knight reported on the National Conference of State Legislatures, where AIPG is planning to expand their exhibit to include AASG and eventually develop geology pavilion to attract a lot of attention. It will be held in Philadelphia on August 6-9, and many schoolteachers are expected to attend. He welcomes volunteers to help staff the booth. Landon suggested having an earth science pavilion as part of 50th anniversary celebration. The goal is to get the word out with substantive events, and have an Earth Science Week where every earth scientist will have a public appearance. The suggestion was made to build a catalogue of meetings that we should be present at and potentially have a booth. Jon Price emphasized that state issues are very important to the geoscience profession.

Tom Moore could not attend the last SEPM council meeting, but has been forwarding GAP materials to leadership. He suggested getting folks involved within your company as well as within your society to exploit company representatives in Washington. He recently gave input to local science teacher association implementing new state plan for standardized test and curriculum. He encouraged the group to help out there, since geologists don't have an image with the public.

Brian Cardott reported for TSOP, a small society of 200 members worldwide. Since they all work with samples, they are very pleased with data repository program and want to ensure the importance of thin-sections, strue slides, kerogen plugs, isolations, vitrinite plugs, geochemical data.

Nan Lindsley-Griffith stated her society's main purpose is to encourage women to work within the profession. She encouraged societies to nominate women for positions on committees such as Government Affairs. Students showing greater equality but faculty still not showing that diversity -- we need to determine what is happening to the women?

Louis Jacobs was most concerned about the possibility of opening federal public lands to commercial collecting of vertebrate fossils. He would like to build a coalition and consensus within AGI and elsewhere for reasonable management, as it undermines study of terrestrial ecosystems and chronologies and adversely affects museums as well as amateurs. He wants to protect our database on public lands and support AGI efforts to support other databases. There is now time to work with Paleontological Society and Paleontological Research Institution to build consensus within paleontologists as a whole. Jon Price cited a noon discussion at GSA meeting in Denver on this issue, and asked if AGI can help craft pro-active legislation. Holdaway stated MSA would be interested because of similar problems. Dragonetti offered to help out. Jacobs believes we need to diffuse emotion and work toward a stronger overall profession. Gibbs suggested that AGI could provide facilitator in neutral environment. Sarewitz suggested using USGS facilitators, and Landon suggested that a major company might donate a facilitator. Price noted we need to engage land management agencies, and Dragonetti responded that it was tough because they did not have their act together, and lawyers are restricting their comments. Jacobs closed by saving that SVP recognizes challenge ahead to educate others about their position.

4.0 Strategic Planning

Gibbs began the discussion by noting that GAP is now five years old and needs to explore how it should evolve into the twenty-first century. A strategic plan was proposed as a method of determining where we will be going, and we were able to identify a person uniquely well qualified to facilitate the process: Bill Sax, currently a professor dealing with strategic planning at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business and formerly an executive at UNOCAL. Sax noted that he enjoyed working with the helpful GAP staff. In February, he sent out a SWOT analysis memo and received 40-50 responses, the compilation of which was handed out at the meeting. The next step is to determining what is possible to achieve in the short term and what are long-term goals. Sax and Applegate also created a timeline and outline for finishing the strategic plan. The plan, however, is not permanent and will remain a flexible structure. He cited one example of responding to conditions that occur, and determining what is the best way to do it. He suggested developing a database of contacts, based on society members who have personal contacts and updating it every two years. For example, his contacts would include Reps. Bill Archer and David Price.

Gibbs would like to see a set of principles of where GAP attentions are to be concentrated and test our immediate policies against that series of areas envisioned in the strategic plan. GAP has a mission statement, but it needs to be more clearly defined. Sax envisions a great opportunity to expand work through interns and volunteers, and looking for additional sources of money available for certain projects through philanthropic organizations.

GAP is forming a committee to complete the work on the strategic plan, and is looking for volunteers. Questions centered around what types of backgrounds are beneficial, how much of a commitment the job entailed. Applegate agreed a committee job description would prove helpful. AGI will get feedback over the next two weeks then send out SWOTs and outline to member society leadership.

5.0 Next Meeting
The next meeting will take place at the GSA Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City in October. A survey will go out to seek committee input on a preferred meeting date and time.

List of Attached Documents

  • Recent monthly updates on GAP activities
  • Memo from Kasey Shewey on preliminary findings on the involvement of geoscientists in federal advisory committee
  • Letter by AGI President Ed Roy in support of USGS libraries and USGS response
  • Letter by Roy opposing changing the USGS name
  • GAP Advisory Committee updated roster
  • GAP Contributions as of 3/19/97

    Cover Memo Accompanying Minutes

    May 30, 1997

    To: Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee Members and Liaisons
    GAP Advisory Committee Meeting Attendees

    From: Dave Applegate, Director of Government Affairs

    Re: Minutes from April GAP Advisory Committee Meeting

    I am enclosing the minutes and several related documents from the April meeting of the Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee (GAPAC) at the AAPG Annual Convention in Dallas. The minutes will be reviewed at the next committee meeting to be held at the GSA Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City on Saturday afternoon, October 18th (exact time and location to be announced). Please let me know if you have any changes or additions to the minutes. An updated committee roster is also enclosed. The minutes and roster will be posted on the GAPAC home page: .

    Several of the action items from the meeting focused on the strategic planning initiative. We have subsequently mailed out a survey on communications between GAP and the member societies, and we will also be soliciting input from outside the geoscience community on how to make the program as effective as possible. GAP staff will use the responses from the earlier SWOT analyses and the surveys to develop a first draft, which will then be circulated to GAPAC and the member societies for further input. We will ask a targeted group of policy-oriented geoscientists (as identified with the help of this committee) to make a thorough review of the draft and help develop the final draft.

    Action Items from April meeting:


    Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at govt@agiweb.org.

    Contributed by Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs.
    Last updated May 30, 1997

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