June, 2007

Dear Colleagues:

As you receive news about the major funding shortfall and the tough financial situation that is impacting the U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP) and the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program – U.S. Implementing Organization (IODP-USIO), please know that the U.S. Advisory Committee for Scientific Ocean Drilling (USAC) is interested in hearing your concerns and suggestions.

For background please see JOI President Steve Bohlen’s article in the Spring 2007 issue of JOI News. This short letter is to let you know that USAC’s top priority is to advocate on behalf of the U.S. ocean drilling community for a program that fully supports our research. USAC is working on three general areas:

  • USAC’s primary focus is on the future: Our July meeting will be in great part dedicated to developing plans to promote continued and increased funding of activities related to the IODP. Clearly, we need to be part of a national movement to increase the NSF budget.
  • USAC is assessing how USSSP and IODP-USIO are adjusting to the new budget realities and will provide input to promote maximum scientific outcome. Last year, USAC formulated a new science support model that included a large increase in the level of support provided to scientists. The new model was included in USSSP’s proposal to NSF, but a few months ago we were informed that the USSSP total budget for years 4-10 was cut by 35% from the budget proposed. As such, the support model that Catherine O’Riordan presents in her letter to you is not what we had asked for, but it was formulated in consultation with USAC, and our focus has been to maximize direct support of scientists within the constraints of a greatly reduced budget.
  • USAC will facilitate increased communication and exchange of information between U.S. scientists and USSSP, IODP, and USIO, particularly at this time when there are so many changes and the need to think and plan ahead.

We will be sending out information after our July USAC meeting with suggestions on how our community can organize itself to more strongly promote IODP, and will be asking for your feedback and, maybe more importantly, your help.

Thanks to all of you that have called me up and sent me e-mail messages with your concerns and suggestions! For those of you that haven’t, consider this an open invitation to contact me, or any USAC member, with your input at any time.

Best Regards,

Christina Ravelo

Contact Information for USAC Members