Detailed Information on the
US Geological Survey - Water Resources Research Assessment

Program Code 10002370
Program Title US Geological Survey - Water Resources Research
Department Name Department of the Interior
Agency/Bureau Name United States Geological Survey
Program Type(s) Research and Development Program
Assessment Year 2004
Assessment Rating Moderately Effective
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 100%
Strategic Planning 90%
Program Management 88%
Program Results/Accountability 53%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $142
FY2008 $143
FY2009 $129

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Outline program of study by the USGS Ground-Water Resources Program to improve our estimates of regional ground-water availability across the Nation.

Action taken, but not completed The report that outlines the program of study was written and the manuscript was reviewed by 3 USGS technical experts with minor modifications. On target for completion of follow-up action and associated milestones.

Publish technical information to support the Mississippi River Basin/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force and U.S. EPA plan to target federal funding that will reduce nitrogen and phosphorus in 100 Mississippi River Basin watersheds.

Action taken, but not completed USGS, EPA, and State partners refined the plans for publication of technical information to support the Hypoxia Task Force, recommending that recently available USGS land use/land cover and USDA nutrient (fertilizer) data be included in the model and analysis. These new data will be included, and the analyses and writing of the report remain on track. On target for completion of follow-up action and associated milestones.

Convert USGS streamgage stations to high data rate radio transmission capability.

Action taken, but not completed Conversion of each station requires the purchase of a $4700 transmitter. To meet the FY 2008 goal of 400 installations, USGS Water Science Centers are continually converting streamgage stations to high data rate radio transmission capability using funding from Federal appropriations and from State and local partners who support the USGS streamgage network. On target for completion of follow-up action and associated milestones.

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Work with other Federal agencies on a multi-year plan to coordinate water research and, where possible, develop shared water research performance measures by August 2005.

Completed The USGS has completed this OMB recommendation.

Develop a schedule for regular, independent reviews of the entire water resources research program.

Completed This recommendation was combined with Water Information Collection and Dissemination recommendation number 4 above, per discussion with OMB.

Working with other federal agencies on a multi-year plan to coordinate water research and develop shared water research performance measures across agencies.

Completed The USGS has completed this OMB followup action.

Planning regular, independent reviews of the entire water resources research program

Completed NOTE??THIS IS THE SAME ACTION AS DESCRIBED ABOVE IN Water Information PART. The USGS has completed this OMB followup action, as noted above.

Work with the National Academy to facilitate drafting of the first independent, holistic review of the Water Resources programs.

Completed National Academy of Science team met with USGS scientists in Sacramento in Feb. to discuss WRD activities in the CA Water Science Center & in the National Research Program based in Menlo Park.NAS team meeting w/USGS scientists in Denver in June to review CR WRD programs in their ongoing review.NAS WSTB WRD review committee is on schedule.Final information-collection briefing/meeting occurred October 11 2007, in DC with senior USGS & DOI officials.The NAS report publication is expected in 2008.

USGS will work with the CENR Subcommittee on Water Availability and Quality (SWAQ) to develop a strategy for federal science and technology to support US water availability and quality.

Completed The draft report, A Strategy for Federal Science and Technology to Support U.S. Water Availability and Quality, was approved by CENR & sent to OMB on January 12, 2007.On June 15, 2007, OMB provided editorial review comments to OSTP.The SWAQ report, "A Strategy for Federal Science and Technology to Support Water Availability and Quality in the United States", has been approved & is available to the public on the internet.On September 28th, 2007 SWAQ reported annual progress to CENR.

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Long-term Outcome

Measure: % of US with ground water quality status and trends information to support resource management decisions

Explanation:The measure indicates what % of aquifers have essential indicators of ground water quality across the nation.

Year Target Actual
2004 0% 31%
2005 39% rebaselined 39%
2006 45% 58%
2007 51% 68%
2008 70%
2009 70%
2010 70%
2011 70%
2012 70%
Long-term Outcome

Measure: % of States with web based Streamflow statistics tool to support water management decisions.

Explanation:The measure indicates where ungaged areas have information necessary to make management decisions about ecosystem management, industrial effluent or flood hazards

Year Target Actual
2004 4% baseline 4%
2005 11% 10%
2006 18% 14%
2007 20% 18%
2008 26%
2009 26%
2010 26%
2011 28%
2012 30%
Long-term Outcome

Measure: % of US with ground water availability status and trends information to support resource management decisions

Explanation:Indicates how much of the country has key water availability indicators needed by managers.

Year Target Actual
2004 5% 5%
2005 7% 7%
2006 8% 8%
2007 9% 9%
2008 11%
2009 12%
2010 12%
2011 12%
2012 12%
Long-term Outcome

Measure: % of targeted contaminants for which methods are developed to assess potential environmental and human health significance

Explanation:Measure indicates whether information is availabe to managers to understand risk of emerging toxic contaminants

Year Target Actual
2004 10% 10%
2005 20% 20%
2006 30% 85%
2007 33% 41%
2008 33%
2009 33%
2010 33%
2011 33%
2012 33%
Annual Efficiency

Measure: Average cost per analytical result, adjusted for inflation, is stable or declining over a five-year period

Explanation:The measures indicates how well USGS is controlling costs at water quality lab which provides lab work for 20% of all water research activities.

Year Target Actual
2004 $8.64 $8.64
2005 $8.64 $8.63
2006 $8.64 $8.34
2007 $8.64 $8.08
2008 $8.64
2009 $9.15
2010 $9.15
2011 $9.15
2012 $9.15
Long-term Outcome

Measure: % improvement in accuracy of watershed SPARROW model prediction for total nitrogen and total phosphorus measured as reduced error

Explanation:Improvement in accuracy of the model imrpoves the ability of water management agencies to characterize the conditions of river reaches and evaluate the success of pollution control efforts.

Year Target Actual
2004 40% 40%
2005 36% 31%
2006 32% 24%
2007 32% 20%
2008 20%
2009 20%
2010 20%
2011 20%
2012 20%
Annual Output

Measure: #of systematic analyses and investigations delivered to customers

Explanation:Measure indicates the # of priority analyses were completed (usually 2 year efforts)

Year Target Actual
2002 457 441
2003 385 421
2004 425 415
2005 425 423
2006 419 401
2007 416 1,095
2008 1030
2009 926
2010 901
2011 878
2012 855

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: The U.S. Geological Survey has the principal responsibility within the Federal Government to provide the water resource information and understanding needed by others to achieve the best use and management of the Nation's water resources. To accomplish this mission, the Water Resources Discipline, in cooperation with state, local, and other Federal agencies: ' Conducts water-resources appraisals describing the occurrence, availability, and physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of surface and ground water. ' Conducts basic and problem-oriented hydrologic and related research that aids in alleviating water resources problems and provides an understanding of hydrologic systems sufficient to predict their response to natural or human-caused stress. ' Provides scientific and technical assistance in hydrologic fields to other Federal, State, and local agencies, to licensees of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and to international agencies on behalf of the Department of State.

Evidence: Legislative mandates (1.1A): The Organic Act of March 3, 1879, established the USGS. This section provides that the USGS is directed to classify public lands and examine the geological structure, mineral resources, and products within and outside the national domain. Additional legislation includes 9 authorizations pertaining to research and investigations, from 15U.S.C.2901,2908, through P.L.106-498 (reference: FY2005 Budget Justifications, p.73-85).

YES 20%

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest or need?

Explanation: Cost effective decisions about water resources management must be based on sound understanding of hydrologic processes so that outcomes of those decisions can be effectively predicted. The fundamental decisions concern water supplies, flood hazard reduction, water quality protection or water quality cleanup'but also include decisions about capital investments, operations, or regulation. Poor understanding of the hydrologic system and poor predictions of the outcomes of decisions can lead to the over-development or under-design of facilities as well as the creation of regulatory policies that are not effective or have undesired consequences. Decision support is needed by Federal, state or local agencies, the private sector, and the public. Issues include: ' Flooding is the number one natural hazard for the Nation with respect to property damage and loss of life. Floods pose significant risk to millions Americans in every state & territory and cause annual direct losses of $5 billion per year (ref. US Army Corps of Engineers). ' Efficient remediation of contaminated ground water is a national priority. Expenditures for clean up may exceed $ 750 billion per year. (NRC 1994, "Alternatives for Ground Water Cleanup", "The potential costs of these remedial activities may be as large as $750 billion in 1993 dollars to be spent over the next 20-30 years.", page vii). ' Salt-water intrusion threatens the availability of drinking water to many coastal communities. WRD research has developed 3-dimensional numerical models of density-dependent flow and transport that are helping communities manage coastal ground-water systems to minimize effects of salt-water intrusion.

Evidence: The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Research Council (NRC) conducts periodic reviews of WRD research priorities and approaches. Several recent reviews of USGS activities provide evidence to support the role of USGS in addressing National water problems and guidance for improvement. ' NRC 2002, 'Opportunities to Improve the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Assessment Program'. ' NRC 2001, 'Future Roles and Opportunities for the U.S. Geological Survey'. ' NRC 2000, 'Investigating Groundwater Systems on Regional and National Scales'. ' NRC 1999, 'Hydrologic Hazards Science at the U.S. Geological Survey'. ' NRC 1997, ' Watershed Research in the U.S. Geological Survey'. ' NRC 1996, "Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of the USGS'.

YES 20%

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any other Federal, state, local or private effort?

Explanation: The WRD research role is clearly defined and unique from other Federal, state, local, or private entities. Several inter-agency coordinating committees guarantee that duplication of effort is minimized. The USGS Director, WRD Associate Director, and WRD Chief Scientist regularly meet with their counterparts and water managers in other Federal agencies and associations to assure complementary roles among agencies. WRD research fills a unique niche within the water-research community through two essential aspects of its infrastructure: (1) Long-term stability: the ability to implement long-term field-based approaches, including maintenance of long-term field research laboratories, coordination of large interdisciplinary research teams, and provision of long-term support for methods and models that are developed for and provided to stakeholders across the Nation; and (2) National consistency: development and use of reliable and consistent research methods and water data collection on extensive regional and national networks.

Evidence: WRD coordinates closely with other Federal agencies to avoid duplication of effort. Examples of this include a USGS-EPA MOU, regular meetings with the NWS, cooperative agreements and a new MOU with the USACoE. The WRD Associate Director is the Co-Chair of the Subcommittee on Water Availability and Quality (SWAQ) and WRD is the convener of Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) http://water.usgs.gov/wicp/acwi/. USGS co-chairs the National Water Quality Monitoring Council (NWQMC). ' SWAQ Charter: March 2003, defines Subcommittee on Water Availability and Quality, composed of 14 Federal science agencies, plus Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of Management and Budget, and Council on Environmental Quality. ' ACWI Charter: http://water.usgs.gov/wicp/acwi/a_charter.html ' USGS Press Release, October 18, 2002--USGS Introduces A Web-Searchable Database of Environmental Methods:

YES 20%

Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?

Explanation: WRD research programs continually strive to improve research through comments input from major users of WRD science products as well as independent reviews of WRD by the National Academy of Science to seek advice on further improvement. WRD employs an expert federal workforce with extensive experience in the hydrologic sciences. A world-class water-quality laboratory is operated at the regional USGS center, Denver, where costs are shared with all WRD programs, and the program has three research centers with staff located in Reston, VA, Denver, CO, and Menlo Park, CA, where interaction with other USGS programs and other federal agencies is facilitated. While there are no major program flaws in WRD research, the goals of the 6 water research budget line items could be better integrated at the Discipline level. The USGS water reserach programs have been added in a piecemeal fashion as needs arose rather than in a strategic framework to address water information for the nation. Previous to the PART review, the lack of long term measureable goals and performance measures indicate this lack of coordination. As a result it was difficult to measure and clearly explain the impact of the all water resources research at USGS.

Evidence: Program 5-yr plans define goals mission and long term goals, partners and customers of each WRD research program (all 5-year plans on web at: http://water.usgs.gov/usgs/prgmplans/). Quarterly WRD Senior Staff meeting discuss program directions (see example agenda). The annual Research Committee Meeting and the smaller Watershed Research Meeting also help set science directions and review current research activities (see example agendas). The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Research Council, reviews have been used to increase WRD research efficiency through recommendations for enhancement and change of scientific management and direction. For example, Envisioning the Agenda for Water Resources Research in the Twenty-First Century (2001). Examines the future of the nation's water resources and the appropriate research needed to achieve long-term sustainability. Watershed Research in the U.S. Geological Survey, (1997).

YES 20%

Is the program effectively targeted, so that resources will reach intended beneficiaries and/or otherwise address the program's purpose directly?

Explanation: WRD research program 5-year plans describe science goals and the intended beneficiaries. Regardless of the nature of the various WRD Programs, the beneficiaries are ultimately the same and include: 1) general public'citizens who request information about local water-related issues such as hazards, water quality, ground-water levels, etc.; 2) private consultants and engineers'who request information such as ground-water levels, surface-water flows, peak-flow data, ground-water levels, etc.; 3) State water-management agencies'who enter into cooperative funding agreements to study water-resources problems and trends; 4) Federal environmental and other agencies'who request water-resources information of all types and enter into reimbursable agreements to study particular large-scale water-resources problems. Each of the Water Research Program elements address a subset of the water science research issues that have specific scientific characteristics and specific beneficiaries. This breakdown enables USGS to target resources to the intended purpose and beneficiary. While the program can demonstrate that specific beneficiary groups are well targeted, it is not always clear what the benefits are from a national/federal perspective.

Evidence: Two examples of stakeholder participation are provided for the NAWQA and TOXICS Programs: ' NAWQA Program: The program has a National Liaison committee made up of representatives from USGS, other Federal agency, and state organizations, and each of the Programs 42 Study Units (local study areas) have Study Unit liaison committees (with similar membership composition) Each meet at least annually to coordinate with beneficiary priorities and needs. ' Toxics Program: Other reviews utilized to increase effectiveness and value to beneficiaries include: ' Assessment of Water Resources Research. ' Studies on Hydrologic Science. ' Cooperative Water Program Task Force Review, 1999: http://water.usgs.gov/coop/review.html

YES 20%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 100%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Explanation: WRD worked with DOI and OMB to develop a set of specific performance measures. These measures are based on the USGS Strategic Plan, WRD strategic planning, and WRD program goals described in each of the WRD Program 5-year plans. The measures are described in the PART 'Performance Measures' section. Unlike previous measures which focused on outputs such as the number o investigations, the new measures focus on acheivement of information products by theme: such as high-priority location- and topic-based synthesis activities.

Evidence: The FY2005 Budget Justifications, page 364 The Strategic Directions for the Water Resources Division, 1998-2008 lists performance measures and priority issues under the 'Strategic directions in WRD scientific activities' section (p. 6).

YES 10%

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Explanation: Long-term measures, noted in 2.1 above, have targets and timeframes and described in the PART 'Performance Measures' section. These have been developed with input from OMB and DOI during the PART process.

Evidence: The FY2005 Budget Justifications, page 364 The Strategic Directions for the Water Resources Division, 1998-2008 lists performance measures and priority issues under the 'Strategic directions in WRD scientific activities' section (p. 6).

YES 10%

Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that can demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term goals?

Explanation: WRD has established new annual performance measures to quantify progress towards long-term goals. These measures are updated and refined from long-standing goals outlined in WRD program plans. The annual measures pertain to the improvement and enhancement of the research produced by WRD programs, including the quantification of scientific products such as peer-reviewed literature, hydrologic models, laboratory and field analytical methods, technical transfer activities, and topical regional/national synthesis products.

Evidence: The FY2005 Budget Justifications, page 364 The Strategic Directions for the Water Resources Division, 1998-2008 lists performance measures and priority issues under the 'Strategic directions in WRD scientific activities' section (p. 6).

YES 10%

Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets for its annual measures?

Explanation: As described under the performance measures tab, baselines are established for some annual measures and will be established in FY2004 for those measures that have been defined in consultation with DOI and OMB during the PART process. Some baselines and targets are described and updated in GPRA plans, program 5-year plans, and in the Strategic Directions for the Water Resources Division, 1998-2008. Additionally, GPRA baselines and targets are shown in the FY2005 Budget justification. Many WRD projects are funded by multiple sources, so that baselines and targets are set for the WRD as a whole, not for individual programs.

Evidence: The FY2005 Budget Justifications, page 364 The Strategic Directions for the Water Resources Division, 1998-2008 lists performance measures and priority issues under the 'Strategic directions in WRD scientific activities' section (p. 6).

YES 10%

Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?

Explanation: WRD research programs commit the USGS and partnering government agencies to combination of annual and multi-year contractual agreements to maintain collaborative and other hydrologic research goals. Program 5-year plans list goals, and individual project proposals specify purpose and objective of each project. USGS builds relationships with partners having complementary goals (e.g., state water-management agencies for investigation and interpretation of water resources-related problems, USEPA and state equivalents for water-quality models and interpretation) to leverage resources/expertise. Cooperative agreements with more than 1,400 cooperators total, (cooperators not differentiated between data collection and research). state and local government agencies across the Nation entail close coordination through regular reviews and annual reports.

Evidence: WRD Five-Year Plans [please refer to WRD/ICD 1.4]WRD District Strategic Reviews (see representative example) [please refer to WRD/ICD 1.4]Annual WRD District Program Reviews (conducted by WRD Regional offices to determine operational/financial status of District office, including the names of each Federal and state cooperative agency, cost and nature of annual program with each, status of reports and products planned for delivery to partners)MOUs, CRADA's, and IAG's: see USGS-NWS [please refer to WRD/Research 1.3]Examples of Criteria, procedures, and guidance for WRD Project Proposal development [please refer to WRD/ICD 2.RD1]WRD Western Region: wwwrcamnl.wr.usgs.gov/uo/proposals/Programs/Western_Region_Programs.html; WRD Western Region URL with specific instructions for preparing proposals: wwwrcamnl.wr.usgs.gov/uo/adm/Policies/Prog_Plans-Pol_on_Prep_Submssn_Proj_Proposal.html; WRD Central Region: wwwrcolka.cr.usgs.gov/uo/proposals/CRproposalweb.html; WRD Eastern Region: water.usgs.gov/usgs/orh/nrwww/prog-dev/proposals.html

YES 10%

Are independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: Numerous independent reviews of WRD have been conducted by the National Academy of Science to seek advice on improvement of WRD research programs. Although not on a fixed schedule, these reviews have been conducted regularly during the past 10 years and are ongoing. The reviews are requested by USGS on an ad hoc basis when feedback is needed and the scope is defined for each review in accordance with emerging and ongoing science priorities. However, It has been over 10 years since there was a holistic review of all the elements in the Water resources research program. USGS scientists and managers meet with NAS committees to provide information and status of WRD programs. NAS committees travel to WRD District offices, field sites, laboratories, regional centers, and the USGS National Center to evaluate all aspects of WRD research programs. For example, five times since 1985, the NAWQA Program has participated in independent reviews of their Program plans and accomplishments. Each review was conducted by committees of experts assembled by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. The most recent review was published in 2002, and covered accomplishments of NAWQA over the years 1993 to 2000. The review also evaluated plans for Program research expected to cover the period 2001 to 2011. However, It has been over 10 years since there was a holistic review of all the elements in the Water resources research program.

Evidence: Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) [please refer to WRD/ICD 1.4] or http://water.usgs.gov/wicp/acwi/ Review of Cooperative Water Program (CWP) [please refer to WRD/Research 1.5] or (http://water.usgs.gov/coop/review.html). NRC, 2002, 'Opportunities to Improve the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Assessment Program' , National Academy Press, page 3. NRC, 1996, 'Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of the U.S. Geological Survey', National Academy Press, page 2. Other NRC reviews: ' Watershed Research in the U.S. Geological Survey (1997) ' Investigating Groundwater Systems on Regional and National Scales (2000)

YES 10%

Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Explanation: The budget justifications provide links to annual goals but it is difficult to determine the effects on long term goals. GPRA tables are not well linked to the text of justifications for long term goals.

Evidence: FY2005 Budget Justifications: identifies the linkage between the accomplishments and the performance measures/outputs in the DOI strategic plan that are tracked as part of GPRA. NSIP p. 411, Coop Water Program p. 433, HNA p. 421.

NO 0%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?

Explanation: The subactivities of water reserach progams have taken steps to correct strategic planning deficiencies identified by external reviews. Regarding other strategic planning issues, WRD has been more effective. The Cooperative Water Program, which represents about a third of the entire WRD program was reviewed and a list of 32 findings was provided to the USGS and each finding was addressed. A 1991 review of the Water research program indicated that more direction needed to be set at the Associate director level to ensure that high priority needs are addressed and for development of budgets. USGS has made steps in this direction but more progress could be made.

Evidence: FY2005 Budget Justifications: includes table with accomplishments and the performance measures/outputs in the DOI strategic plan that are tracked as part of GPRA (Coop Water Program p. 433, HNA p. 421), but are not clearly linked to the budget. Cooperative Water Program Task Force Review findings [please refer to WRD/Research 1.5] or http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/circ/circ1192/html/finding.html

YES 10%

If applicable, does the program assess and compare the potential benefits of efforts within the program to other efforts that have similar goals?

Explanation: WRD research programs have a long-term, national-scale interest in development and maintenance of water resources investigations, research, and hydrologic models for the well being of the public and the Nation. No other Federal agency or Federally-funded program has been given this mission, which was assigned to the USGS through the Organic Act of 1879. No private entities satisfy the public interest component of WRD research in which all products such as hydrologic models and laboratory methods enter the public domain and are available to any and all users. Most research funded through universities is supported by the NSF, whose RFP's are typically highly topical and focused. Although some NSF RFP's call for hydrologic research at the national and/or long-term scale, NSF-supported researchers must turn to Federal agencies such as the USGS for the long-term data sets. Non-federal agencies do not have the standards and practices in place to consistently collect and archive data and study results for mult-decadal to century time scales. This is the Federal role. The NSF-funded LTER is focused on a narrow set of mainly ecological disciplines by definition. Furthermore, the LTER is a set of 24 study sites and cannot be used to study or understand the hydrological issues that face the Nation. As stated in the DOI Manual, the mission of the USGS is to 'serve the Nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.

Evidence: WRD/ICD 1.1]. Establishes unique role of USGS and directed USGS to classify public lands and examine the geological structure, mineral resources, and products within and outside the national domain. (DOI Manual, Chapter 1 [please refer to WRD/ICD 1.3] or http://elips.doi.gov/elips/release/3304.htm) LTER home page: defines the program--http://lternet.edu/

YES 10%

Does the program use a prioritization process to guide budget requests and funding decisions?

Explanation: If there is a change in funding, WRD bases research program enhancement or reduction decisions on national plans and guidance such as 1) the Report to Congress, Concepts for National Assessment of Water Availability and Use USGS Circular 1223; 2) The National Water-Quality Assessment Program-Entering a new decade of investigations. Additionally, the USGS has a drafted a Bureau-level science planning handbook, which demonstrates the relationships between the annual Regional Executive Program Coordinator meeting, Regional meetings with DOI Bureaus and other stakeholders as elements that contribute to the WRD budget and science prioritization process. The elements of water research program trade off priorities within their elements but it is not as apparent how priorities are weighed and decisions made at the discipline level.

Evidence: DOI Strategic Plan USGS Strategic Plan Strategic Directions for the Water Resources Division, 1998-2008 WRD Five Year Plans Director's Annual Guidance Director's Annual Program Direction Memo Cooperative Water Program memorandum

YES 10%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 90%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score

Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?

Explanation: USGS WRD research programs regularly collect performance information through customer and partner reviews and surveys. Feedback is incorporated into program plans and specific actions are taken in response. The performance information seems largely to improvements in process and can not be directly linked to outcomes. In developing the annual priorities for the Cooperative Water Program, the USGS refers to its directions from Congress and the Administration, needs expressed by cooperators at the state, regional, and national levels, and our own assessment of the nation's needs for water-resources information.

Evidence: USGS Strategic Plan showing long term goals, measures, and annual GPRA targets (pp 9-15). GPRA update memo for FY02. GPRA Reports for FY03 and example of quarterly verification. Directors 03 Listening Session Report showing recommendations and actions taken. USGS Planning Model process showing performance requirements in program five-year plans and collecting performance information in BASIS+ system . Strategic Directions for the Water Resources Division, 1998-2008 The DOI and Bureau Strategic Plans include partner and customer reviewed long term goals, annual performance measures, and GPRA measures. Progress on GPRA are verified quarterly and reported and updated annually. The USGS Director convenes annual listening sessions, recording needs of partners and informing them of response. The NAS/NRC reviews 5 year plans, utilizing review teams composed of scientists and stakeholders. All projects are required to record detailed workplans, progress and products, and budgets by object class in the Bureau wide system BASIS+.

YES 12%

Are Federal managers and program partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: There is currently not a direct likage betweensater district manager's performance goals to for the entire water discipline to ensure that priorities are met and to understand the tradeoffs of decisions made at the local level. USGS does use some mechanisms to hold senior management and program partners accountable for performance through performance evaluation, management process controls, and performance guidance provided in agreements, contracts, and grants. Measures for GPRA, financial management, and the Presidents Management Agenda are in all USGS SES performance agreements. Regional Executives and Program Coordinators are accountable for achieving performance as part of the USGS Planning Model and as part of their performance agreements. While SES level managers have GPRA annual goals incorporated into their annual plans, starting in 2004 Water district managers began including performance standards in their performance plans which link their individual performance with the achievement of program goals. At the end of FY04 and beyond it will be possible to assess whether this information is used to ensure accountability. While partners and cost sharing agreements include performance information they are not clearly linked to achievement of water discipline performance goals.

Evidence: SES Performance Plan Guidance and Trujillo MemoSES performance agreement, genericUSGS Planning Model responsibilities list (p.4-7). USGS Policy Manual: Contract and agency agreement requirements www.usgs.gov/usgs-manual/toc.html

NO 0%

Are funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose?

Explanation: The USGS has an established budget, allocation, and spending process that includes annual planning, quarterly and monthly reviews, and review of any funds allocation change over 25K. It has implemented management controls and measures to ensure dollars are allocated and obligated in a timely manner and spent for intended purposes. Budget planning to object class is done in the BASIS+ system, which ties budget to intended use. Allocation tables are constructed from BASIS+ and FFS is used to provide monthly and quarterly spending information by object class, to review obligation and debt, and take corrective action. Projects and their budgets are reviewed monthly by line managers and annually by Programs. Changes of over 25K are reviewed by both regional line managers and Programs as they occur. The Bureau conducts quarterly review of status of funds against performance measures. A certified Contracting Officer's Representative annually reviews and verifies contract funds are obligated and spent for intended purposes. A list of findings and USGS responses is available on line in the USGS FY 2003 Annual Financial Report. See page 27. http://pubs.usgs.gov/03financial/

Evidence: USGS Budgeting and Finance diagram. Allocation Process Memo showing appropriation actions and requirements. Program and admin office allocation tables to cost centers, projects, and accounts. Spending progress by object class for all USGS for 2nd and 3rd quarters. Summary of Program quarterly obligations for FY03 Final spending report for all FY03 Programs. Instructional Memos APS-2003-11-13 USGS FY 2003 Annual Financial Report http://pubs.usgs.gov/03financial/

YES 12%

Does the program have procedures (e.g. competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, appropriate incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?

Explanation: WRD research has developed an efficiency measures during the PART process which is in the measures section, a baseline and targets must still be developed for this measure.

Evidence: See PART measures section.

YES 12%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: WRD research programs work collaboratively with federal, state, and local governments, industry, and academia towards the achievement of complimentary goals. Major partners are identified in program Five-Year Plans and include, but are not limited to, NWS, DOD, NSF, DOE, EPA, BLM, and DOI, state and local resource agencies, and major consortia of academic, governmental, and industry groups. In general, USGS provides the broad scientific framework that provides context and support for partners to conduct work on a more specific or local basis. USGS establishes roles and responsibilities with partners through cooperative agreements, Memoranda of Understanding, and Interagency Agreements. For example, the NAWQA Program has as part of its strategic plan, to deliver data and information useful to policy and decision makers. As a result, each study unit and at the national level there are NAWQA Liaison Committees. These Committees have included more than 1000 organizations and agencies at all levels of government across the US, with interest and responsibility for water resource and water quality management.

Evidence: Effective collaboration between WRD research programs and others is evidenced by working agreements such as MOU's Interagency Agreements, and JFA's, that that WRD has with others. An example of this type of partnership is WRD scientific collaboration with NSF-funded programs such as the LTER whereby scientists share data and data collection efforts such as meteorological stations and field experiments (see NRP WEBB program: http://water.usgs.gov/webb/). Another example is the sharing of long-term WRD precipitation data sets, which are often unpublished, with the NOAA-NWS for development of the NOAA Technical Report 42 series (Precipitation accumulation and return frequency). In these types of relationships, WRD plays a distinct and complimentary role. WRD cooperative working relationships benefit both parties, and WRD scientists gain access to data, knowledge, and expertise as well as funding.

YES 12%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: USGS has: taken corrective actions for IT security (target date 6/30/04); taken necessary steps to ensure that all staff performing accounting functions comply with Circ. A-123; performed appropriate reviews of the financial statements; developed procedures to ensure that accounting adjustments are handled properly; established policies and procedures for proper accounting for all property; established inventory controls to ensure compliance with SFFAS No. 3; and has in place a model for maintaining WCF investments. USGS exceeded DOI's goal for electronic funds transfer compliance, consistent with the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, and promptly paid its invoices, again exceeding DOI's goal of 97% (consistent with the Prompt Payment Act). For the revenue cycle control issue, USGS has implemented a corrective action plan and is having monthly reviews conducted by cost center managers. The USGS project management system, BASIS+ is set up to reflect financial transactions in system on a 24 hour update cycle. BASIS+ has new report types that permit regular budget execution reports and review of transactions at all levels of financial management, from the individual WRD District office, to USGS Headquarters. Regular review of transactions is carried out by financial management officers.

Evidence: FY 2003 Independent Auditors' Report (Dec 9, 2003) USGS Status of FY 2002 Findings (Sept 30, 2003) Bureau annual planning process documentation

YES 12%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?

Explanation: The USGS has taken significant steps to resolve management deficiencies. Through the USGS Geographic Information Office (GIO), Chief Technology Office, the USGS has taken steps to improve IT systems controls (resulting in better security and management of critical infrastructures). The USGS has strengthened its financial management organization and leadership by establishing a Deputy CFO with full authority and responsibility for overseeing all financial management activities and filled key positions for skilled supervisory and operating accountants. USGS has established a training program for its professional and administrative staff on proper accounting procedures. USGS has established stronger policies and procedures for improved controls over financial reporting. Through use of BASIS+ WRD coordinates annual planning and budget/program execution as part of the Bureau's program planning model To receive Certification and Accreditation (C&A), WRD addressed the Performance Objectives and Milestones identified by the Bureau Security Manager. NWIS met the identified requirements to receive C&A this year. Financial management problems have been identified by an independent auditing company. USGS responses and corrective actions are described and addressed in the FY2003 Annual Financial Report.

Evidence: USGS FY 2003 Annual Financial Report http://pubs.usgs.gov/03financial/ FY 2003 Independent Auditors' Report (Dec 9, 2003) USGS Status of FY 2002 Findings (Sept 30, 2003) Bureau annual planning process documentation

YES 12%

For R&D programs other than competitive grants programs, does the program allocate funds and use management processes that maintain program quality?

Explanation: WRD research programs have several mechanisms to maintain program quality. In the NRP, all scientists are required to regularly submit RSR's/RGEG packages for scientific peer review. The system is used to examine strengths and weaknesses in scientific achievement (publication record and scientific contribution to the Bureau), scientific methodology, progress on goals, use of funds. Reviews are conducted by scientific peers and WRD management. In the Cooperative Water program, project proposals are developed by WRD District scientists and submitted for approval through a multi-level process that includes scientific discipline specialists, managers, and program officers at the District and WRD Regional office level. Only those proposals that satisfy program goals, and meet high standards for scientific merit, planning, budgeting, and product, are funded. The Toxics program process for allocating funding telescopes down from funding targets for the Program goals and objectives in the Program 5-Year Plan (which defines budget targets) to the annual allocations which incorporate evaluation of accomplishments and progress as well as competition for supplemental funding. The quality of Program products are maintained by a review structure that evaluates the relevance and effectiveness of project plans and is supported by specific performance measures that address peer review. The NAWQA program requires annual work plans be developed for all activities of the Program. Work plans are reviewed at the local, regional and national levels. Plans are adjusted based on past performance to account for influences of capability and environmental conditions encountered. Annual work plan guidance is based on the Programs 5-year plans and long-term NAWQA plan. WRD research programs have several additional mechanisms to maintain program quality. These include: 1) regular reviews of project-level financial transactions by District Administrative Officer; 2) reviews of District financial transactions by Regional Management Officers; reviews of Regional financial transactions by Headquarters financial officers. In research funded by the Cooperative Water program, research project proposals are developed by WRD District scientists and submitted for approval through a multi-level process The proposals are first prepared by project or hydrologic investigation section chiefs in the Districts, then reviewed and approved by the District Technical Specialist (for Ground Water, Water Quality, or Surface Water), then the District Chief. Projects involving both data collection and research are approved at the Regional level. Criteria for approval include satisfaction of partnership goals, maintenance of long-term records, maintenance of adequate geographic coverage, meeting needs for support of water-resources management decisions, and consistency with WRD science goals. Project proposals are reviewed for technical merit, acceptable time-line planning, appropriate budgeting and staffing, and final products. Project proposals that do not satisfy all criteria are returned to the author for corrections and revisions and are not approved unless all criteria are satisfied.

Evidence: RGE guidance memo Annual Cooperative Water Program memo Program 5-year plans

YES 12%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 88%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term performance goals?

Explanation: Past measures, though inadequate, indicate that progress was made. New long term measures were developed during the PART process. USGS lacks an adequate measure to indicate the status of water quality monitoring.



Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Explanation: Earlier performance measures were very input orientied and it was difficult to determine how they contribute to long term goals, however WRD regularly achieved its annual performance goals.



Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year?

Explanation: A new efficiency measure was developed in the PART process against which improved effectiveness and efficiences can be measured in the future. Anecodtal information show efficiencies were achieved., through collaborative effort with EPA on a water information web portal.



Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., with similar purpose and goals?

Explanation: The program did not receive an outright "yes" for this question because there are no known surveys or analyses that directly compare the performance of the Water Resources Program with other water research programs operated by other governmental or educational entities. Because the program is a recognized leader in water information, however, it warrants a score of "large extent." Water information activities in the private sector (site specific) and in other agencies (National Weather Service (NWS, Corps of Engineers, EPA) looks to the WRD for direction and standards through cooperation. The NWS operates a small precipitation monitoring network (with only limited real-time data collection/transmittal capability) for forecasting and reporting on weather conditions. Additionally, like the NWS, the WRD reports streamflow on a 24x7 basis, and reports must be accurate and timely. Unlike the NWS, the USGS provides calibrated estimates of mean daily streamflow when measured data are unavailable for any reason.

Evidence: NAS review: Investigating Groundwater Systems on Regional and National Scales (2000) NAS review: Opportunities to Improve the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Assessment Program (2001) These NAS reviews outline future directions for WRD research and highlight unique aspects of USGS WRD research: national scope, long-term data sets, and goals with federal (public) interest.


Do independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?

Explanation: Independent review of WRD research programs by the NAS document that the programs are effective and achieving results. Additional indication of the effectiveness of WRD research programs is the feedback received in the form of e-mail and letters acknowledging the value, breadth and scope of use of WRD research program products. A large extent is awarded because few reviews have looked at the effectiveness of WRD programs holistically. Those that have looked at WRD holistically note that Water resource programs would be more effective if clear policy direction was set at the top.

Evidence: NRC, 2002, 'Opportunities to Improve the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Assessment Program', National Academy Press, page 3.NRC, 1996, 'Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of the U.S. Geological Survey', National Academy Press, page 1. See NRC commentary in response to question 2.6 and the external Coop Program review, and the EPA award mentioned above.

Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 53%

Last updated: 09062008.2004SPR