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Cooperative Matching Funds

Policies and Guidance for Avoiding Competition with the Private Sector in USGS Water Programs

An important part of the mission of the U.S. Geological Survey is to continually assess the water resources of the nation. To carry out this part of its mission, the USGS has historically worked closely with water-resource agencies at all levels of government in setting priorities for its work and in funding its activities. In working closely with its many stakeholders, the USGS often addresses issues which have significant private sector involvement, as well. We understand that the expertise and capabilities of the hydrologic consulting community continue to evolve, and the emphasis on the privatization and outsourcing of work previously done by Federal agencies is increasing. Within this changing technical and political environment, it is important for the USGS to continually assess what activities are appropriate in fulfilling its mission and which are more appropriate for the commercial consulting firms in order to avoid competition with the private sector. In general, if the project provides services readily available from the private sector and is driven solely by an operational need of the cooperator to meet an agency-specific requirement (such as a design or permit application), the USGS should not undertake it.

An External Task Force Review of the Cooperative Matching Funds Program completed in 1999 provided several recommendations to Water Programs related to competition (USGS Circular 1192, p. 19). One of those recommendations related specifically to a changing technical climate.

Convene ad hoc committees by project type, composed of private sector, other agencies, and Cooperators, to resolve emerging competition issues, and to help determine what types of projects are appropriate for the USGS to undertake.

To address this recommendation, we are convening roundtable ‘listening sessions’ with wide participation at major national conferences involving topical areas where competition could be a potential issue. The results of these listening sessions are being used to develop guidance documents for our field offices that support and clarify the USGS policy on avoiding competition in relation to specific activities.

What follows is a listing of resource documents on policies, guidance, and future plans for addressing issues related to competition. Comments and questions on this information can be directed to Ward Staubitz, National Coordinator for the Cooperative Matching Funds Program, at or 703/648-5061.

Existing Documents:

Planned Documents:

  • Guidance memorandum on Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) – planned for release in 2004
  • Guidance memorandum on Aquifer Storage and Recovery – planned for release in 2004


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