Doing Business With U.S. Geological Survey

General Info on USGS<@VM>The CIO file: Karen Siderelis


Decision Analysis

Value: Not available

Status: RFP expected in August

Purpose: A small-business set-aside contract to provide support in the organization, development, integration and coordination of interdisciplinary research teams at the Yucca Mountain Project Branch. Yucca Mountain is a potential storage site for radioactive waste.

Global Seismic Network Recompete
Value: $11 million
Status: RFP expected in June 2005
Purpose: Provide technical support services for the Seismological Data Systems Network, a global network that gathers and disseminates data on seismic activity. Current contract holder is Honeywell Inc.

Source: Input

Things to note

Approaching the agency for business is easy, beginning with "Contracts and Grants" under "About Us" on the homepage ( The Web site is quite thorough about what USGS is looking to do, including a forecast of what the Interior Department plans to spend money on this year (; a warning about the Central Contractor Registration requirement (; and the agency's business and economic development goals, including doing business with small businesses, 8(a)s and HUBZone participants ( By all means, start here.

The fiscal 2004 budget reflects some reductions as well. There is $2.8 million less for lower priority mapping research, and the National Mapping program has $4.4 million less for collecting data for the National Map. USGS is moving away from data collection and dissemination and toward making geospatial data and information easy to get for the public and decision-makers.

Under the President's Management Agenda, the agency is seeking a $1.5 million increase in the fiscal 2004 budget for continued development of the Geospatial One-Stop e-gov initiative. This is a grant program to improve the participation of local, state and tribal governments, academics and the private sector in making geospatial data more accessible and usable. Such data is helpful in urban planning, land management and environment studies, among other uses.

An interesting fact: USGS provided the training in geology for the first astronauts to visit the moon.

U.S. Geological Survey

National Center

12201 Sunrise Valley Drive

Reston, VA 20192

(703) 648-4000

Founded: 1879

Director: Chip Groat

Employees: About 10,000

What it does: The Web site says it best: "USGS provides scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy and mineral resources; and enhance and protect quality of life." It concentrates on four areas: natural hazards, resources, the environment and information and data management. It works with more than 2,000 state, local and tribal government agencies, the academic community and other federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.

Major subagencies: USGS is part of the Interior Department and is its only science agency. It is a nonregulatory agency. There are three main offices: the Eastern region and headquarters, the Central region and the Western region. There are about 400 offices throughout the United States and in assorted foreign countries.

Number Crunching

2004 budget request: $895.5 million

2003 budget: $919.3 million

In the Bush administration's fiscal 2004 budget request, $2.3 million is slated for the National Biological Information Infrastructure, a collaborative program with state and resource management agencies to improve access to data and information on the nation's biological resources. There is a $3 million increase for America View, a program of public access to remotely sensed data, and $800,000 for the Urban Dynamics Program, which studies urbanization and its impact on the surrounding environment. The budget also includes $4 million for conversion from wideband radio to digital narrowband radio used in natural hazards networks, radio telemetry for wildlife and global positioning satellites.

Karen Siderelis


Full title: Geographic information officer

Took the job: December 2000

Hometown: Rome, Ga.

Family: Married

Hobbies: "A number of things." She and her husband are avid hikers. Also enjoys reading and gardening.

Currently reading: "Not Without Peril: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Misadventure on the Presidential Range of New Hampshire" by Nicholas Howe. Siderelis and her husband recently hiked in New Hampshire's White Mountains for two weeks. They tried to hike to the top of each Presidential Peak.

Alma mater: Bachelor's degree in education, master's degree in park management, both from the University of Georgia

WT: Your title, geographic information officer, is different from that of other CIOs. Is your job very different from that of a typical CIO?

Siderelis: I think it is. It includes every function that most CIOs have; but in addition, I have more responsibilities dealing with scientific data holding and knowledge management than some of my peers. I also have responsibility for what we call information services, and it includes things such as our libraries, public information centers, and the scientific publishing process. I don't do the publishing, but I sort of have responsibility for publishing policy, which overlaps to some extent with data quality and those kinds of things.

WT: What do you look for in companies with which you are thinking of doing business?

Siderelis: Typically the CIO would look to a company that has a good track record, some longevity, is a market leader, has performed well over some period of time. ?. We are also looking for companies that are into innovation and sort of out-of-the-box solutions to things we're doing. You don't often find that all in one company.

WT: A year from now, where do you see USGS's technology capabilities?

Siderelis: One of our goals is to bring some enterprise approaches to our information technology to reduce costs and provide a greater benefit to the programs.

We've developed is a vision statement for our office to bring a more integrated environment to USGS to make it easier for scientific programs to work together.

One other thing I'd like to see in the next couple years is that programs perceive us as adding value to what they do as opposed to being a resource drain.

The last thing I'd like to see ? is some, at least a case or two, in which we've actually collaborated with a program to modernize or develop an information system or capability that they couldn't do without the CIO's office ? enter into a real, true partnership to do that.

For more of the interview with Karen Siderelis, go to and type in 110 in the Quickfind box.

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