Sunday, July 06, 2008

Merge Earth sciences agencies?

Former heads of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey are recommending that the agencies be merged into a new Earth Systems Science Agency. NOAA and USGS each have responsibility for different areas of earth science, which these leaders argue are better dealt with by a single agency that can cross-pollinate expertise as well as exert more clout in the battle for funding. Former USGS head Charles Groat pointed to the challenges the nation faces in energy and in protecting the environment as rationales for the change, which, practically speaking, would have to be dealt with by the new President after his inauguration in January.
COMMENT: I see the rationale, but let's not be too hasty. Sometimes you can merge two agencies or companies which have built up individual expertise and see it diluted rather than strengthened. Each agency here is very good at what it does, which means the upper-level civil service management is effective. It might be dragged into bureaucratic turf wars and general confusion. So it's an idea to examine carefully.

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