Changes at USGS

By Adena Schutzberg

In mid-January Karen Siderelis, Associate Director of Geospatial Information at USGS, sent out a memo outlining changes planned for the next two years.The mapping divisions (now numbering five) will be consolidated into the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center (NGTOC).Max Ethridge, based at the Rolla, Missouri division, serving as Regional Geographer for the Central Region, has been named acting director of the NGTOC.Where the NGTOC will be based is not yet decided.

Rolla, and the five other locations, in Virginia, South Dakota, Colorado and California, and perhaps others, are in the running. Ethridge explained the consolidation was needed because of the variety of private sector maps and new technologies which I suspect include The National Map.

Two teams are exploring what and where NGTOC will be.One focuses on which responsibilities and programs the center will support.A second is studying the number of staff needed for those tasks.

USGS has been trimming staff and using consultant more and more in recent years.A recent "buyout" was extended to the end of February those who might wish to leave in the near term.A bonus of $25,000 sweetens the deal.While USGS has maintained funding for about a decade, salaries have not risen with inflation.

This past week, U.S.Representative Jo Ann Emerson has sent a letter to Director of the United States Geological Survey Dr.Charles Groat asking for Rolla's center to continue, either as NGTOC or as it is.See also the article in the Rolla Daily News.

The changes are worth careful watch as the number of civilian geospatial jobs may drop with the consolidation.It's possible some staff may be assigned to other federal geospatial programs but my fear is simply that the number of defense/intelligence geospatial jobs may far overshadow civilian ones.That will mean a more limited path for those looking into public service in geospatial in the federal government.

Published Wednesday, February 16th, 2005

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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