House and Senate conferees have completed work on the FY 2004 Interior Appropriations Bill. Under this compromise legislation, the U.S. Geological Survey will receive $949.7 million for surveys, investigations, and research. The Bush Administration requested $895.5 million. Last year's budget was $919.3 million. The increase amounts to $30.4 million, or 3.3%.
The FY 2004 conference report does not provide figures for the six USGS programs. What follows is language from House Report 108-330 that was approved on Tuesday. This report also listed funding for many projects by name. Readers interested in these projects should view the report, accessible at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cp108/cp108query.html Note that the U.S. Geological Survey will be listed twice; see the second listing for specific projects.
"The conference agreement provides $949,686,000 for surveys, investigations, and research instead of $935,660,000 as proposed by the House and $928,864,000 as proposed by the Senate.
"Changes to the House for national mapping programs include an increase of $2,795,000 for information technology and decreases of $1,500,000 for geospatial one-stop, and $625,000 for the national map.
"The managers are aware of the recent malfunction of scanning equipment onboard the Landsat 7 earth observing satellite and the disappointing failure to correct the problem. This failure has resulted in degraded data collected by the satellite. The managers recognize the significance of Landsat data to many activities, including agricultural monitoring and research, environmental monitoring, and regional planning, to name a few. The managers understand that, although the data has relatively small gaps, the remainder of each image has data of original quality and hence will remain useful for many of the activities they currently support. The managers believe that the Survey should take a proactive approach where Federal agencies are concerned, particularly the Departments of Agriculture and Defense, to try to secure data purchase agreements now in order to have a stable funding source. In addition, the managers expect the Survey to investigate and document the current level of interest from the user community for continued data purchases. The Survey should conduct data sales in the near term and, based on this, estimate potential annual revenues that may be derived from this source. This analysis will provide the basis for subsequent recommendations regarding the types and amounts of funding necessary to continue operation of Landsat 7. The managers also expect the Survey, Federal agencies, and other users needing medium resolution data to work together to determine how the degraded Landsat data can best meet their needs prior to seeking data from alternative sources. To the degree that Landsat data does meet the needs of Federal agencies, the managers encourage them to use the Survey as the provider of this data.
"The managers are supportive of the Survey's efforts to manage more efficiently the growing volume of collected, archived, and distributed data at the EROS Data Center. Accordingly, the managers support efforts by the Survey to convert its archived remote sensing data to a modern disk based storage system. The managers believe that such a conversion will accommodate the growing volume of data, and provide access to users more efficiently and at lower costs. Finally, the managers support implementation of a continuity of operations capability utilizing 'remote mirroring' technology."
Specific projects are then listed. The report then states:
"The managers are aware that the request for the Survey's facilities budget activity may not contain sufficient funding for rent and operations and maintenance for some of the Survey's science centers. The managers understand that this is due, in part, to insufficient funds being transferred when this budget activity line was created in fiscal year 2000. The managers remain concerned about this situation and direct the Survey to develop a funding strategy by March 15, 2004, to resolve this issue and avoid jeopardizing ongoing science programs.
"The managers have restored $3,013,000 in streamlining reductions proposed in the Administration's budget request. The survey is directed to spread these funds to the program areas based on a pro rata distribution."