In Reply Refer To:
Mail Stop 409
June 27, 2012
WATER MISSION AREA MEMORANDUM NO. 12.02
Subject: Hydrologic Activities Supported by the Cooperative Water Program
This memorandum reiterates Water Mission Area (WMA) (formerly Water Resources Discipline) policy on hydrologic activities supported by the Cooperative Water Program (CWP). It supersedes Water Resource Memorandum 84.21.
Criteria and guidelines to be considered in decisions by Water Science Centers to pursue joint hydrologic activities are categorized by (1) Legal and Administrative Constraints; (2) Policy; and (3) Mission, Priorities, and Information Value. Reference to existing companion CWP policies is included in this memorandum, such as the long-standing and firm WMA policy on Avoiding Competition with the Private Sector (Memorandum 12.01).
All CWP activities and information must contribute to the overall mission of the WMA and USGS to foster an improved understanding of the Nation's water resources. CWP priority activities related to data collection and interpretative studies and research are specified in annual Program Guidance (for FY12). Program priorities are selected in large part because they are aligned with the WMA national interests, core mission, and science strategies, and because they remain responsive to needs of States, Tribes, municipalities and other localities. Because hydrologic and climatic conditions, water issues, and public awareness of water issues change, CWP activities and priorities can change over time and therefore are reviewed on an annual basis.
The WMA remains committed to meeting the needs of its funding partners while maintaining significant technical leadership, innovation, and hydrologic expertise ofbenefit to stakeholders across the Nation.
William H. Werkheiser //s//
Associate Director for Water
Distribution: A, B, WSCs
This memorandum supersedes WRD Memorandum 84.21, which superseded WRD Memorandum 83.052 and WRD Memorandum 81.053.
Hydrologic Activities Supported by the Cooperative Water Program
Criteria and guidelines to be considered in decisions by WSCs to pursue joint hydrologic activities with local, State, and Tribal Cooperators are categorized by
(1) Legal and Administrative Constraints; (2) Policy; and
(3) Mission, Priorities, and Information Value
These criteria and guidelines should be considered when developing collaborative work under the
Cooperative Water Program (CWP) regardless of the funding mechanism or funding situation, including
50-50 matched funds, Federal funds against direct services credit, or 100-percent repay.
Legal and Administrative Constraints
USGS appropriations language (2013 Budget Justification) (p. D-2) states "That no part of this appropriation shall be used to pay more than one-half the cost of topographic mapping or water resources data collection and investigations carried on in cooperation with States and municipalities." This is adopted from the Organic Act of March 3, 1879, which established the U.S. Geological survey, as cited in Title 43, Chapter 2, 50 (43. U.S.C. 50). (A full listing of USGS appropriations and citations is available at:
Title 43, Chapter 2, 31 (43.U.S.C. 31) prohibits the undertaking of work for private parties or corporations. By extension, this restriction can be applied to Joint Funding Agreements through the CWP with private parties or corporations.
Appropriation language reflecting the intent of Congress refers to "...water-resources investigations carried on in cooperation with States or municipalities." This has been interpreted to mean an agency or entity having taxing authority or a public institution that is an integral part of such tax-levying entity. An entity that does not meet such a definition would not be eligible to enter into a Joint Funding Agreement.
Cooperative Goint) funding cannot be used for hydrologic activities outside the United States and its associated commonwealths and trust territories. In general, USGS has no authority to use federally appropriated funds to do work in other countries, including Canada, unless the
Secretary determines that work abroad is in the national interest.
Hydrologic investigations cannot violate existing laws or statutes. For example, investigations that might have significant adverse effects on public health and safety, such as the introduction of toxic or hazardous materials as hydrologic tracers, or adversely affect endangered or threatened species, should be rejected. Investigations that would adversely affect national landmarks, antiquities, or archeological sites should be rejected.
Cooperating agencies-state, Tribal, municipal, county, and interstate - As specified in Water Resources Discipline Memorandum 2001.05, it is the responsibility of the Water Science Center negotiating an agreement to make sure the cooperating agency is a State, Tribal, municipal, or county agency having taxing authority, or is an entity thereof, such as a State university. Privately endowed universities do not qualify. Cooperation with consortiums consisting only of State or local agencies that are funded by State or local agencies is allowable. However, work with consortiums that are a mix of State or local agencies and private organizations or consist only of private organizations is not allowed under the Cooperative Water Program. In situations where the water resource in question is part of a regional hydrologic flow system that has trans-boundary or inter-jurisdictional water management issues, it is desirable to have all affected parties participating in th.e development of the proposed effort. When full participation by all affected parties is not possible, the USGS must rely on its assessment ofthe jurisdictional responsibility of the Cooperator and the scientific value of the data or investigation to decide whether to enter into a JFA.
Source of funds - It is the policy of the USGS that State or local funds matched by USGS are funds under the control of the State, Tribal, or local cooperating agency that signs a JFA. The USGS has no authority to audit or question the source of the funds (such as funds derived from other Federal sources) offered by the cooperating agency (as specified in Water Resources Discipline Memorandum 2001.05). A fundamental assumption ofthe JFA is that, in execution of this agreement between equal partners, the USGS is conforming to all applicable Federal regulations and the cooperating agency is conforming to all applicable State and local regulations.
Non-standard Joint Funding Agreements - Cooperators may require non-standard Joint Funding Agreements (JFA). Specific guidance on non-standard JFAs is provided in Water Resources Discipline Memorandum 2000.08. Although such guidance is more than a decade old and refers to old organizational structures and syntax, it remains relevant and must be followed by Water Science Centers to assure adherence to CWP policies EXCEPT that non-standard JFAs are to be reviewed and signed by the respective Regional Area Executive Office. Non standard JFAs do not go to the Associate Director for Water for signature.
Private Sector - Proposed joint work through the CWP must not compete with the private sector as defmed in the long-standing and firm WMA policy (WMA Memorandum 12.01, Avoiding Competition with the Private Sector).Work for private organizations cannot be done under the Cooperative Water Program but may be pursued other ways within USGS, such as defmed in the U.S. Geological Survey Manual 500.2.1 under "Work for Non-Federal Agencies" and in the Technology Transfer Handbook on the internet at: http://www.usgs.gov/tech-transfer/handbk.html.
Two specifics to note: First, work for private organizations can be administered through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), which is a written agreement between a private company and a government agency to work together on a project. Created as a result of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. §3710a), as amended by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986, a CRADA allows the Federal government and non-Federal partners to optimize their resources, share technical expertise in a protected environment, share intellectual property emerging from the effort, and speed the commercialization of federally developed technology. Technical Assistance Agreements are used to specify statements of work, terms, benefits to USGS and the collaborator, and other considerations.
Second, USGS allows agreements between USGS and private parties in support of hydrologic data collection (as authorized under the GIFT Authority Statute, 43 U.S.C. §§36a, 36b, and 36c). The agreement type, called the "National Water Information System Collaborative Agreement" allows private companies and other non-governmental entities to support the operation of stream gages, observation wells, and other hydrologic data collection activities. The agreement must comply with WMA Memorandum 12.01, Avoiding Competition with the Private Sector.The activity must be of benefit to the public and data collected must contribute to the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) database.
Information access - Work conducted under a JFA should not be undertaken in which resulting data and reports cannot be made public (except perhaps under certain court-ordered situations or under special situations negotiated with and specifically approved by the Associate Director for Water). Results of CWP projects and data-collection activities must be made available to the public in published media consistent with USGS policy. Water data collected by the USGS are to be entered into the National Water Information System (NWIS) database. This requirement applies to site information, streamflow, groundwater levels, water quality, water use, and biological data. (WRD Policy Memo 2008.01, Accepting Furnished Records; Guidelines for Ensuring the Quality of Information Dissemination to the Public.)
Safety - CWP activities that would place USGS employees in an unsafe environment should be rejected. USGS policies and procedures should be followed, as specified by the Bureau (http://intemal.usgs.gov/ops/safetynet/index.htrnl) and within individual Water Science Centers.
Mission, Priorities, and Information Value
Proposed work and information must contribute to the overall mission of the WMA to foster an improved understanding of the Nation's water resources. Hydrologic information must meet USGS standards, be collected or generated in an unbiased, objective manner, and address a clear public need. Otherwise, proposed work may be more appropriate within the purview of the private sector or another governmental agency.
Activities that produce little hydrologic information should be rejected, including joint work dominated by design, engineering or economics. For example, proposed work with a State Highway Department to explore site-specific engineering geology necessary for highway design, but without hydrologic implications, should be rejected.
Activities that duplicate known facts or existing information should be rejected. This does not apply to monitoring and assessment to track conditions over time.
CWP data collection and interpretative studies and research should be aligned with CWP priorities as specified in annual Program Guidance. Program priorities are selected in large part because they remain responsive to the needs of localities, States, and Tribes, and because they are aligned with the WMA national interest, core mission, and science strategies. FY12 guidance, for example, states that data-collection and interpretative activities ofhighest priority are those that (1) contribute to hazard mitigation to protect lives and property (such as related to floods or droughts), and, (2) sustain water availability-quantity and quality- associated with meeting water demands across the Nation (including those for drinking, irrigation, industry, energy, and ecosystem health).
If a proposal for new work does not fall within this realm, it should be examined critically for exclusion.
Proposals that integrate across and leverage resources across other WMA Programs and USGS Mission Areas are highly encouraged.