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View Diary: USGS water data under sequester threat (19 comments)

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  •  The management of USGS has been great - (9+ / 0-)

    doing the best to provide managers and staff as much information as they can. As a field-science-based agency, we do have expenses we can juggle in the short term (travel, equipment, training) in the short term to minimize the number of sequester days (we're down to nine).

    But they are also being honest with us that this level of funding may be the new normal, requiring a significant re-scoping of our entire agency's portfolio of what we do. We can't persist these cuts very long without doing major damage to our mission unless we re-scope our mission.

    (I have to say that over my career, we already have done this many times, including major cuts to geologic mapping and cartography activities. It's part of the biz. But this is truly new territory for us.)

    Given the USGS is one of America's best investments, as the world's most trusted earth science organization, and a great place to work as a scientist. Needless to say, this situation is pretty demoralizing toward the end of one's career.

    >>> import moderateRepublican ImportError: No module named moderateRepublican

    by robbinsdale radical on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 06:03:33 PM PDT

    •  that is sad (3+ / 0-)

      I am a petrologist actually (though noone knows). "I feel your pain" LOL, no seriously I do. I loved field work (after I had hated it as a student). If you at the USGS have to scale down, that is a loss for your nation.
      It is sad to hear your tale.

      Frankly, I´m casting about, but I don´t really find a reason for hope.

    •  Yeah, just as I predicted in a list of examples (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      robbinsdale radical

      given in "Go for it!" and "Since the Clinton era shutdown . . ." where I mention what I think is a serious problem. The general public is often clueless about what we feds do (did in my case and it was not public) partly because they see the commercial results.

      Without the true equivalent of the U.K.'s Crown Copyright they see weather guys and gals on TV or the Weather Channel as the source, not just a commercialized delivery system that relies on the government observation and modeling system. They see "Channel X radar" when it is really NOAA radar. They see commercial companies printing folios of charts with advertising of marinas and such with little or no realization the really expensive part is the survey and compilation of those waters by NOAA. They don't realize that if we shut down all these government assets the guts would be ripped out of all sorts of vital systems and commerce would begin suffering severely.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 09:36:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Both great comments worth reading (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pelagicray

        Thanks for sharing them.

        We really depend on Federal employees for so many things.

        Perhaps the fact that no one is aware of the value of what we do is partly due to the restrictions put on us by the Hatch Act, which warns us from visible participation in any political campaigns or activities.

        The Hatch Act is not quite as bad as it seems when you get into the details, but it has the effect of chilling political speech by those that know how important Federal services are.  I wonder if that was Sen. Hatch's intention.

        •  Hatch Act isn't the problem with the public's (0+ / 0-)

          general ignorance of what federal agencies do that affect their daily lives.

          I worked most of my years under a stricter version of the act, passed in 1939, than most young feds know and the public knew much more of what agencies did. For example in my early years any political bumper sticker on a personal vehicle that was ever parked in an agency lot was a no-no. Now, with some restriction, that is not prohibited. The growing ignorance among the public corresponded with some loosening of Hatch Act restrictions of that sort.

          The real problem in my opinion is a combination of two major factors. First, we are generations removed from the Great Depression and WW II during which the public paid lots of attention to what the federal government was doing. Second, culminating with the Regan years, the message of private commerce became so ascendent that the a combination of public focus, agency reluctance and technology began to obscure vital activities.

          A good example is weather. I have run across more than a few people expressing the view that they get their weather from the Weather Channel or "TV X Weather" and see no reason for a National Weather Service. Some of the TP/GOP in Tornado Alley advocate elimination of the Department of Commerce, where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its NWS reside. They apparently have no clue that their commercial sources get their weather from NWS! The fools have a clueless ideology and appear to think that the Weather Channel or their television network could afford the radar and observation systems on which they depend.

          So, in "National Weather Service cutting back on hiring, spending" we get:

          According to Sobien, one sequestration proposal floated by NWS involves reducing the frequency and number of soundings, or weather balloons. The data from these soundings are important inputs for weather prediction models.

          “It [the sounding reduction] would result in up to a 30 percent decrease in forecast accuracy,” Sobien said. “The cost to the country [of the reduced forecast accuracy] would be exponentially higher and could cost lives.”

          Cut the NWS observation and modeling system and those commercial outlets would indeed become "weather guessers"! Now, if they were required by law, an equivalent of the Crown Copyright notice provision, that they in every case clearly state the source of the data they are presenting things might be a bit different.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 07:08:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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